On Tuesday night, at the Hair of the Dog sports bar on Orchard Street, Kevin the Human Carpet grinned with unbridled glee as he shuffled himself into his signature rolled red robe, ready to step on it. Kevin is a longtime New York icon whose frequent presence at insider parties is legendary.
Booking Kevin means you’re familiar with cool scenes from the past and present, and Blaketheman1000, an NYC rapper described by one fan as “the Drake of Dimes Square,” certainly possesses this knowledge. (Dimes Square, for the uninitiated, is a small slice of the Lower East Side that represents or has represented an extremely generative base for perpetually online young creatives.)
Tuesday was the release party of Blaketheman1000’s new single, “Dean Kissick”, and the place was packed with music label insiders, art world dwellers, Gen Z wannabes, party photographer Cobrasnake and representatives from the new fledgling newspaper The Drunken Canal.
Blaketheman1000 is in a tender phase of his music career. The rapper and pop artist, by the name of Blake Ortiz-Gomez, an inner-city creature, has had impromptu concerts written in Artnet’s Gossip column “Wet paint”. He has also been named alongside Steven Donziger, an environmental lawyer who led a crusade against the multinational energy company Chevron and who rolling stone calls a “hero of the millennial left” (Donziger recently invited Ortiz-Goldberg to perform at an event).
Short and catchy, Blaketheman1000’s tracks betray an impressive range, evoking everything from 100 Gecs to the pathos of The Strokes. Ortiz-Gomez has quite the grip on Spotify, and on YouTube, enthusiastic commentators expect Blaketheman1000 to explode very, very soon.
When I posted my favorite song of his, “Pixies”, on my Instagram story (sample text: “I’m not a Wall Street Adderall addict / I’m a person, you can hold me”), a similar cryptocurrency in the center of NYC writer and a celebrated Irish novelist responded quickly with their favorite Blake songs; Clearly, he has international, albeit still under the radar, reach.
“Dean Kissick”, his new song, is an ironic love letter to the inner city, and the title is instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with O’Flaherty’s gallery in the East Village, Christian LorentzenThielbok, Honor LevyMike Crumplar’s share pile or the Acultural Top 100 of 2022.
Kissick is an art critic and cultural commentator whose columns for Spike Magazine are loved and passed on by the clued-in and Twitter infamous. When he wrote the song, Ortiz-Goldberg had never met Kissick.
“I loved the beat of his name,” Ortiz-Gomez told The Daily Beast, “and he was posting videos with Drain Gang and posting photos with Kanye, and I really had in my head that Dean Kissick was the intersection of internet rap and New York visual art, it is in a very interesting place in the zeitgeist.”
“Dean Kissick”, it should be noted, is a stunner; squeaky and witty. “Dean Kissick / I go to the club with my girl and five of her friends / I’m not a critic / But if I were I’d say it’s all tens,” raps Ortiz-Gomez.
At the release party, Ruby, who works at an indie rock label in New York and didn’t give her last name, told The Daily Beast that she feels “Blake’s music has really skipped over into music journalism, but it has its cool, welcoming circle in the art and literary world.”
“I’m glad it’s not about me, that would be weird. I am much happier when my name is appropriated.”
— Dean Kissick
“I don’t think it’s really about me at all,” Kissick, whose recent… Peak columns include meditations on ugly crypto art and the 59th Venice Biennale, the song told The Daily Beast. “I think it’s just Blake talking about himself in a self-aggrandizing way, right? I’m very honored, but I don’t see it as something about me either. I’m glad it’s not about me, that would be weird. I am much happier when my name is appropriated.”
Whether the song is “about” Kissick or not, there’s no denying that both the rapper and the art critic are intrigued by the same question that intrigues me, which is, how do you describe the New York City art scene to someone who isn’t part of the? How do you capture the zeitgeist in words?
“I can’t talk to other places or other times because I’m here and now, but one thing that I really appreciate about the greater arts and culture scene in New York City is that I think people really think they’re on to something meaningful. a certain level,” Ortiz-Gomez told The Daily Beast. “I think there’s a collective sense of a certain amount of self-importance. Whether it’s arrogant or unjustified, I don’t even think it matters because it’s just nice to be in a scene of people taking seriously what they do and what the people around them take seriously.”
The downtown scene, Kissick said, “is really about the performance of the self, or the performance of personality. Blake is making a name in a multimedia way with music, with videos, and he makes t-shirts and stickers and things like that. And he appropriates my name, in this case, as a signifier like rappers do, always throwing in random names and brands and references and things like that, to build your own image.”
So if you take yourself and everyone around you seriously, it might follow that the identity you’re trying to establish is in fact Lake open to transmutation and development, rather than less. If there’s one thing to learn from The Scene, it might be that.