On Tuesday night, at the Orchard Street sports bar Hair of the Dog, Kevin the Human Carpet grinned with unbridled glee as he shimmied himself into his signature rolled-up red rug, ready to be stepped on. Kevin is a longtime New York icon whose frequent presence at insider parties is the stuff of legend.

To book Kevin is to signify your familiarity with cool scenes 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 patch of the Lower East Side that represents, or represented, an extremely generative base for perpetually online young creatives.)

Tuesday marked the release party of Blaketheman1000’s new single, “Dean Kissick,” and the place was packed with music label insiders, art world denizens, Gen Z wannabes, party photographer Cobrasnake and representatives from the hot upstart newspaper The Drunken Canal.

Blaketheman1000 is at a tender stage of his music career. Thoroughly a creature of the downtown set, the rapper and pop artist, given name Blake Ortiz-Gomez, has had impromptu concerts written up in Artnet’sWet Paint” gossip column. He’s also been name-checked alongside Steven Donziger, an environmental lawyer who crusaded against the multinational energy corporation Chevron and who Rolling Stone calls a “hero of the millennial left” (Donziger recently invited Ortiz-Goldberg to perform at an event).

Blaketheman1000’s songs are short and catchy and betray impressive range, evoking everything from 100 Gecs to the pathos of The Strokes. Ortiz-Gomez has decent traction on Spotify, and on YouTube, avid commenters anticipate Blaketheman1000 is going to blow up very, very soon.

When I posted my favorite song of his, “Pixies,” to my Instagram story (sample lyric: “I’m not a Wall Street Adderall addict / I’m a person, you can hold me”), a similarly downtown NYC crypto writer and a celebrated Irish novelist were quick to respond with favorite Blake songs of their own; clearly, he’s got international, if still under-the-radar, reach.

“Dean Kissick,” his new song, is a tongue-in-cheek love letter to the downtown scene, and its title is instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with O’Flaherty’s gallery in the East Village, Christian Lorentzen, Thielbucks, Honor Levy, Mike Crumplar’s Substack or the Acultural Top 100 of 2022.

Kissick is an art critic and cultural commentator whose columns for Spike Magazine are beloved and passed around by the clued-in and Twitter-notorious. When he wrote the song, Ortiz-Goldberg had never met Kissick.

“I liked the rhythm 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 it in my head that Dean Kissick was the intersection of internet rap and New York fine art. He sits in a really interesting spot in the zeitgeist.”

Dean Kissick,” it should be noted, is a banger; squeaky and spritely. “Dean Kissick / I pull up to the club with my girl and five of her friends / I’m not a critic / But if I was I’d say all of them are tens,” Ortiz-Gomez raps.

At the release party, Ruby, who works at an NYC indie rock label and didn’t give her last name, told The Daily Beast that she feels like “Blake’s music has really been passed over in the music journalism sphere, but it’s found its cool, welcoming circle in the art and literary worlds.”

I’m glad it’s not about me, that would be weird. I’m much happier just having my name be appropriated.

Dean Kissick

“I don’t think it’s about me at all, actually,” Kissick, whose recent Spike columns include meditations on ugly crypto art and the 59th Venice Biennale, said of the song to The Daily Beast. “I think it’s just Blake talking about himself in a self-aggrandizing manner, right? I’m very honored, but I also don’t see it as being about me in any way. I’m glad it’s not about me, that would be weird. I’m much happier just having my name be appropriated.”

Whether the song is “about” Kissick or not, what’s undeniable is that both the rapper and the art critic are intrigued by the same question which intrigues me, which is: how do you describe the New York City art scene to someone who’s not a part of it? How do you capture the zeitgeist in words?

“I can’t speak to other places or other times because I’m here and now, but one thing that I really appreciate about the larger arts and culture scene in New York City is I think that people really think that they’re doing something meaningful on some level,” Ortiz-Gomez told The Daily Beast. “I think there’s a collective feeling of some degree of self-importance. Whether it’s arrogant or unwarranted, I don’t even think it matters, because it’s just fun to be in a scene of people who take what they do seriously and take what the people around them do seriously.”

The downtown scene, Kissick said, is “really about the performance of the self, or performance of personality. Blake is making a name for himself in a multimedia way with music, with videos, and he’s making t-shirts and stickers and things like that. And he’s appropriating my name, in this case, as a signifier in the way that rappers do, always throwing in random names and brands and references and that kind of thing, to build your own picture.”

Thus, when you take yourself and everyone around you seriously, perhaps it then follows that the identity you’re working to establish is in fact more open to transmutation and development, rather than less so. If there’s one thing to be learned from The Scene, maybe it’s that.

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