Bear rapper Big Dipper, laughing & sashaying his way through Texas
RICH LOPEZ | Contributing Writer
There are three things someone is quick to notice about Big Dipper — and he’s fully aware of them.
“When people write me up, [they usually describe me] as a ‘gay white rapper,’” he says. “Now they add ‘bear’ in there, too.”
So, make that four things.
In his first trip to Dallas, Big Dipper (he refuses to reveal his real name) will perform during Texas Bear Round-Up as part of the ThrIII fashion show at BearDance. He’ll take to the stage of the Rose Room for the Underwear on the Runway March 14, with additional performances afterward. That will all come while also being in Austin for a stint at South By Southwest. That makes for a busy week for the 28-year-old.
“Yeah I’ll be in Austin all week and fly in to do the shows in Dallas,” he says. “I prefer it to be busy because it just keeps me on the ball.”
It’s also what helps him build his cred. In 2013, he released the EP Thick Life, which made an impression with his provocatively hilarious “Dick Hang Low” video. With that and his previous mixtape (They Ain’t Ready), Dipper is slowly expanding his audience at a pace he is comfortable with.
“I think it can be less stressful that way and if it moved too fast, I fear I’d lose sight of everything I’m doing,” he says. “It’s interesting because I saw 2012 as a big year and then last year [also]. And this year has already started out huge. But I’ll take it any way it comes because it’s exciting to be out in the world.”
With a mostly-theater background, he secretly had dreams of being a hip-hop star. He had the confidence already to be in front of people, but when he dabbled in hip-hop as this character he created, the response snowballed and his dream was becoming a reality.
Although hip-hop and queer music fans haven’t always gone hand-in-hand, Big Dipper sees interesting parallels with them. As a young fan of rap, he admits to feeling uneasy about singing along to Eminem’s homophobic lyrics. But he loved the sound.
“I connected to the music. And queer identity, even in the bear community, is about taking ownership of self, but that’s what hip-hop artists were doing,” he says. “So it made me be able to express who I want to be, and that’s what I do when I record and perform.”
Playing the part was no problem; even if he didn’t look like a rapper, he has the chops. He raps with impressive flow, and the beats along with his humorous sensibilities create quality songs, even if they make for a chuckle sometimes.
“I have the skill but I wasn’t the picture of what you thought of a rapper. You look at Cazwell, and he looks the part,” Dipper says. “I feel like I don’t, even when I perform. I strip and I’m a big chubby dude with hair all over. But it’s that reason bears make space for themselves like the BearDance guys did.”
And with humor at work in his songs, Big Dipper sometimes doesn’t gain the musical respect he deserves. The jokes and gimmicks are his perspective, his personality, but they sometimes get in the way when it comes to how he’s received.
“Yeah, people think I’m a comedian, and I was scared about the humor in the beginning. I just find jokes in the world, and when I put that in my music, I’m being honest. That’s who I am — cracking jokes and being cute,” he says.
Indeed, his appearance has sometimes been more of a sell than the music. “I’ve gotten comments from bears saying they love my videos but watch them on mute,” he admits.
All part of the hustle.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 7, 2014.