Full disclosure, when I sought out to write about goldperms, I was very nervous. I’d only heard his name through the grapevine, but gave his EP a listen, and his style reminded me of some of my favorite artists. I’ve never written about a musician before and really only have minimal knowledge about hip hop aside from what I think is dope and is not. I made my way to Tobey Skatepark to meet with him, and come to find out, we have a few things in common. After we gabbed about growing up in suburban Memphis and being made fun of for being “alternative black kids,” we went on to discuss ‘Who is goldperms,’ past, present, and future.
C901: So, goldperms? Is that your real name? I can refer to you solely as that, if you want?
goldperms: *chuckles* Nah, it doesn’t matter. My real name is Kameron Blakely. I got “goldperms” from a rapper, Robb Bank$. It’s alluding to his lyrics “take them golds out yo mouth if they ain’t perms.” I heard that in 2015 and immediately thought, “now that’s pretty hard,” and changed my Instagram handle. Next thing I know, people at the skatepark are saying, “What’s up, goldperms?” It just kinda caught on.
C901: I figured it was some sort of reference, but you can never assume things nowadays. I’d like you to take me back to the beginning, before you became goldperms. How did Kameron Blakey get things started?
I got “goldperms” from a rapper, Robb Bank$. It’s alluding to his lyrics “take them golds out yo mouth if they ain’t perms.” I heard that in 2015 and immediately thought, “now that’s pretty hard,”
goldperms: I’ve always had a thing for music. In elementary school, I played cello in the orchestra, and, man, I was a geek, but thanks to my ADHD, I became obsessed with it. I was big into Yo-Yo Ma, Hanz Zimmer and movie scores, and still am. Come middle school, I went to Cordova Middle, you know the “Dirty Dova,” and that’s when I delved into more indie and punk rock because of who I was around. I didn’t really appeal to the rap of that time. I was hip to the old stuff like Three 6 and Koopsta Knicca, but I was low-key pretentious about mainstream music, as many middle schoolers are. Man, black people used to be on my ass about the music I listened to, coupled with the fact that I wore skinny jeans and rode skateboards.
C901: Shoutout to all of the alternative black kids out there that have come to understand that being black isn’t just one thing. I didn’t start wearing skinny jeans in middle school to be “more white.” Ya girl just had skinny legs!
goldperms: Right?! My black friends would clown on me so hard for listening to bands like Bad Brains, but slick fool, Bad Brains is an all black band, so what are you really saying?
C901: So you started at classical, made your way to rock, and ended up in hip hop? That’s quite the journey.
goldperms: I got more into rap after I discovered Tyler the Creator when I was on my edgy wave. He didn’t sound like anyone I’d heard before, so I started looking into what made his sound his sound. He’s the reason I found out about Stone Throw artists like MF Doom and Quasimoto which led to me discovering NYC artists like MIKE and Medhane. I really wanted to start rapping in 2016, but with my influences being all over the place, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go musically. When I first tried it out, it ended up sounding generic and that’s exactly what I didn’t want it to be. So, I started listening to jazz and other stuff like that. After taking time to listen to artists like Stelvio Cipriani and Cold Train, coupled with the influence of the New York dudes, I was ready to try again.
C901: After finally finding your sound, I bet you were so ready to step to the mic?
goldperms: Ahhh, not exactly. I was self so conscious because, 1) I wasn’t sure how my peers would respond to it, 2) I was terrified that whatever I made was going to drop and then flop, and 3) the stuff I make isn’t necessarily popping- especially down here in the South. Those were the main things holding me back, but low and behold, I made my first song, Bunshin, in October of 2018 after my friend Wayra and I freestyled together. We were just playing around, but then he asked me to jump in the studio with him. After we wrote it, he was like “Ima beat yo ass because you’ve been holding out on us.” I released it and, not even two weeks later, *mimes explosion*. All of a sudden, people were sharing it, both from inside and outside of my circle. It’s still shocking to me. Like, how the hell did I, a rando dude from Memphis, suddenly have a following in cities like Portland, LA, and New York?
C901: Because people dig your sound!
goldperms: Bet! They do and that’s just so wild. My first performance was at The Hi Tone. I was expecting it to be a smaller, more intimate gathering, but man, that shit was packed. I just did my one song and afterwards, it looked like people were leaving. When I asked them where they were going, they said they’d just come to see me. Like what?!
C901: I can only imagine what that did for your confidence as a writer and an artist. Is that what led you to finally release an EP?
goldperms: Well that was in October, and November was a pretty tumultuous time for me. I went through a bad break up and a bad stint with depression. I’ll keep it real. It was really bad. Days with failed suicide attempt type shit. Mentally, I’m straight now, but those following months were not a good time. The EP was my place to translate all of that and I wanted to be strategic with how it was released. I dropped the EP January 21st and that first night it reached 1800 plays. With my first song release, I was like “phew,” but with this… Like ME?? I reached 1800 plays in one night?! I didn’t know what to do. Usually people celebrate, but I’m a very anxious and awkward person. At that point, I was just like, “Oh man, here I go. I’m in this thang!” Like even the fact that Choose901 wanted to interview me is wild. I legit thought your DM came from a fake page.
C901: *laughs* Boo, it’s us.
goldperms: I’m so used to being the background guy giving credit where it’s do, so being in the limelight… this has just been a great opportunity.
C901: And now you’re in the limelight along with hip hop artists who are making a name for themselves both in Memphis and beyond. Sounds like a dream come true.
goldperms: The hip hop scene in Memphis is more underlooked and we’ve definitely had things taken from us. Bigger name artists will look over here and yank without acknowledgment. Many people aren’t delving into the Memphis music scene, so when they hear that I’m from here, they don’t expect it. We’ve got it out here though! You’ve got people like A Weirdo From Memphis, $UNHIRO, and Rudy Rhymer. You’ve got more melodic dudes like Jayvee the Prince and Cameron Bethany. You’ve even got rappers that do EDM type stuff like Qemist. It’s such an immersive culture, and it’s starting to bloom and get recognition. It feels like a renaissance.
I made my first song, Bunshin, in October of 2018 after my friend Wayra and I freestyled together. We were just playing around, but then he asked me to jump in the studio with him. After we wrote it, he was like “Ima beat yo ass because you’ve been holding out on us.” I released it and, not even two weeks later, *mimes explosion*. All of a sudden, people were sharing it, both from inside and outside of my circle. It’s still shocking to me. Like, how the hell did I, a rando dude from Memphis, suddenly have a following in cities like Portland, LA, and New York?
C901: Where do you want it all to go for you?
goldperms: Ah, man! I could elaborate on that for days. I mean, I’m ADHD as hell, so I always have so many ideas. Musically, I have another EP I’m dropping with a local lo-fi label called Grifo Tapes. I’m stoked to start promoting that because the drop is going to be dope! I’m interested in starting my own clothing thing, but ya know, not just making some lame screen print shirts. I’d love to get into cinematography so I can incorporate some of that knowledge into future music videos. Honestly, I’m just an artsy hoe that wants to do it all and is excited to be included. It’s an honor.
Follow along his journey on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and you can see goldperms in action as he presents and performs at Golden Hour, “the first rap show to be thrown at an indoor skatepark in the state of Tennessee,” happening on March 30th at Society Memphis.