hand job academy's uncle meg on being a genderqueer rapper

doing what she wants to do

Photo by Meg Skaff
Meg Skaff first came to our attention as one-third of Hand Job Academy, the fearless, all-female, Brooklyn-based hip-hop collective who gained Internet notoriety thanks to entertaining songs about periods and Lena Dunham. Skaff, who was born in Virginia and raps under the moniker Uncle Meg, stood out for being a genderqueer rapper, although thanks to barrier-breaking artists like Mykki Blanco and Le1f, that's becoming less and less of a talking point in hip-hop ranks. 
 
In early August, Meg released "Uncle Freestyle," a rapid-fire anthem for not giving a fuck, and a pretty good indication of what we can expect from her debut solo EP, Dangerfield, out September 15. We recently caught up with the rapper to discuss being labeled a genderqueer artist, her stage persona, and her very own Taylor Swift moment. 
 
Do you like being labeled as a genderqueer artist?
I do like being labeled as a genderqueer artist. There are both very feminine and masculine sides of me, and I embrace and love both of them. But I'm not picky at all about my pronouns or how people label me, overall.
 
We're seeing more and more representation of queer and genderqueer artists in the mainstream. Why do you think it's taken so long, and what are the next obstacles to jump over?
I think it's taken so long for generqueer, queer, and trans artists to make their way into the mainstream because there was never a broad public conversation about gender fluidity until recently. I remember growing up down south in a small town as a kid, and I had never even heard of these terms to describe people before. I remember thinking that I felt different as a kid, like I didn't fit. I knew I was a girl, but I wanted to be a boy because I thought you only had two options to choose from. I feel like a lot of times when people see or hear about something out of their norm, they look negatively upon it out of ignorance. And I think that's the next obstacle to jump over. Like those Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costumes going around? That's so fucked and it's a perfect example of hatred out of ignorance. I think slowly but surely, America can get ready to see more and more movements towards LGBTQ and gender equality, and 2015 was a huge year for that with gay marriage being nationally recognized and Miley Cyrus and Caitlyn Jenner coming out.
 
How did you get your start in rapping?
I always listened to hip-hop and rap growing up, and was a pretty musical kid. I played piano and I loved to write stories and poems. Growing up in West Virginia, I never thought that I would turn into a rapper. I met my homies Clara Bizna$$ and Ash Wednesday in 2012 in Brooklyn. They were rappers doing their thing, having a lot of fun, and giving no fucks, which was very inspiring to me. I thought their shit was so original and different from mainstream rap or anything I had ever heard, so I offered to shoot a music video for them, and later I spit a rhyme for them. They thought it was super tight, and the three of us ended up forming Hand Job Academy.
 
What has been the most rewarding experience for you, thus far?
The most rewarding experience for me so far was probably waking up in West Virginia last Thanksgiving to a text message from one of my best friends growing up, and she was like, "OMG! Taylor Swift just Instagrammed your song!!!" I go to Taylor Swift's instagram to see Lena Dunham dancing to our song, "Lena Dunham," and my mind was kind of blown. Like how the hell did they even find that? And then it was on Good Morning America which was tight, but they couldn't say our band's name on air. I didn't care, though—I thought it was hilarious. 
 
How has social media affected or shaped your career and artistic choices?
Social media to most artists is a brand. It's their brand, their aesthetic, it's how they represent themselves to the public. And it's obviously a great tool to use to get your art out to an audience—that's what I use it for. I just try to be myself and have a good, light sense of humor, and if my followers are in to that, that's tight.
 
Where does your stage persona end and your real-life persona begin? Is there even a difference? 
My stage persona is 100 percent me. I have a ton of fun. Uncle Meg is 100 percent me. But it is the half of me that is wild and gives no fucks. I wish I could keep that stage persona 100 percent of the time, but I'm also a very serious and emotional person, as well. With my upcoming EP, Dangerfield, you can hear some of the Uncle Meg that falls in love easily, gets broken easily, and the Uncle Meg that loves to live and get stuck in a fantasy land. I think this is going to be a new side of me that most people haven't seen, because it was so vulnerable for me to write like this up until this point in my creative process. But it's what came out of me at the time, so I decided to be extremely honest and release it.
 
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I don't really know how I would describe my aesthetic, honestly. I just try to be me and be real as hell. I guess some people would describe my aesthetic as quirky and full of humor (or so people have told me). It feels like I'm ever-evolving creatively, and as a human, having good and bad experiences in life that I am super sensitive to, so I have no idea what's going to come out of me next. I kind of just let it happen and go with it.
 
What famous person, dead or living, do most wish you could have as a roommate?
I don't really want a human roommate. I'm very much a loner when I'm at home. When I'm writing and working on music, I like to be totally alone. But if I had to choose a roommate, I'd probably choose an animal, like Garfield or some shit.
 
What is your favorite driving music?
Right now, I love driving to Perfume Genius' "Queen." But I also love blasting dirty-ass Southern hip-hop. 
 
How do you hope to grow as a creative person?
I hope to continue to write meaningful lyrics, but with better punchlines. Like some gnarly-ass, Nicki Minaj-type punchlines, because she can rip on that shit. I've also been producing some of my own tracks, so I hope to continue and get better with that. I produced the beat for "Me, The Demon" on my EP, which was super fun to make. I also hope to continue to open myself to new experiences and allow myself to feel the highs and lows of life, because I write fully from my own experiences.
 
If there was a phrase that you think best sums up your approach to life, what might it be?
I like to approach my life with the saying, "Fuck supply severely depleted," by Clara Bizna$$. I want nothing to feel like it's the end of my world ever again. If shit hits the fan, I want to accept it, brush it off, and learn from it.
 
When are you most relaxed?
I'm most relaxed after sex, haha. The female body is amazing. Duh.