Michael Quattlebaum Jr. has done a great many things. He won an Independent Spirit Award at the age of 15, for an experimental theater collective he started in his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. At 16, he stole $100 from his mother’s purse and ran away to New York City, returning home three months later. He received a full-ride scholarship first from the Art Institute of Chicago, and then another from ParsonsÑand between the two lasted three semesters. Moving to New York again in 2008, he made a home in Harlem, and a scene in downtown galleries and nightclubs. In 2010, he created Mykki Blanco.
What began as a confessional video posted to Facebook quickly grew into a dynamic, mesmerizing persona, and within two years Elle magazine had dubbed Blanco “Hip-Hop’s New Queen.” To date she has toured nationally and internationally; been photographed by Terry Richardson; and shared the stage with Björk, Gang Gang Dance, Death Grips and Grimes, all before the release of her debut album (which, rumor has it, will see daylight in 2014). Delivering searing raps with a sinister leaning, Blanco is at once threatening and enticing, party and substance, male and female. She is an explosive figure, and is sure to put on an electrifying show this New Year’s Eve.—Kristen Zwicker
Follow Kristen Zwicker on Twitter: @djdopeshoes