Thursday, July 12, 2012

Queer Rappers: A Post Inspired by Frank Ocean

originally published at my Media Justice column

This isn’t about coming out stories or labeling Frank Ocean a term he does not identify with (as many folks are doing, he never said he was gay, bisexual, pansexual, heterosexual, he just said he loved another man). Instead I want to create a post that highlights the out queer identified rappers. 

My reason for creating this post is because I think folks are asking the wrong questions when it comes to Frank Ocean’s post about his experiences with love. Folks are often asking why the homophobia and heterosexism in the Hip-Hop genre is present, how it impacts queer rappers, and why queer rappers may not come out. My concern with these queries is that they may isolate and ignore the already out and queer rappers currently. Why don’t folks know of the out queer rappers in the Hip-Hop genre, community, and culture? This is a very different question from “why more rappers won’t/can’t ‘come out’.” 

This is not to say that because queer rappers are queer they must speak about queer issues or be that queer artist. It is an aspect of our identities that impacts our perspectives, however, they are artist in a genre that folks claim is extremely toxic to queer artists without recognizing the queer artist that are surviving and moving the genre forward. So my hope is that this list will evolve, you’ll post your favorites not mentioned here, and we’ll collectively support and purchase their music!

I tapped into my community and asked them who are their favorite out queer rappers. Of course folks may remember this Colorlines article highlighting 8 queer identified people in the Hip-Hop genre.  That list, like this one, is not exhaustive yet these are continuations! Below are some of the folks and artists people in my community and networks have mentioned. When I can I’ll post their videos just be mindful some of the lyrics may not be “safe” to listen to depending on your location.

Let’s start with one degree of separation from Frank Ocean. He is part of the Odd Future crew, which has out queer artist Syd the Kyd. This year Syd the Kyd was featured in LA Weekly and spoke directly about her sexual orientation and thoughts about folks inquiring about it in an interview. If you haven’t seen her video for the track “Cocaine” check it out below where her “love interest” is another woman. Also keep an eye out for the forms of violence that are represented here. 


 is a Hip-Hop duo whose most recent track QueenS lit the internets on fiyah! When you check out the video you’ll see why! Everywhere I looked online for a good 3 weeks this video and song was everywhere and none of us minded at all! Thanks to Malik for being the first person to suggest them for this piece! 


 also suggested Angel Haze whose upcoming album will be released July 17, 2012. Fader magazine highlighted Angel Haze last year in their piece on up and coming artists, be warned the piece reads extremely sexist and condescending! However, her song “New York” does not and check it out below. 


When I asked folks online for suggestions Iyssyboobears said their favorite rapper was Kelow.  The first song and video I heard from Kelow was “Haters”  and right now I’m really loving this song “Uptwnz Finest.” Kelow has a tumblr page that has most up to date videos and fotos. 


Lady Sovereign
  was introduced to me in the early 2000s by my homeboy Jerome, who I have created an imaginary Hip-Hop crew with similar to Wu-Tang where we are the core 2 and have a fluctuating 30+ members. From the UK Lady Sovereign has discussed her queerness openly for years. 


Azealia Banks
  discussed her bisexuality earlier this year and how she’s living life on her own terms and not wanting to be the “lesbian rapper.” It’s really her songs and lyrical content that are grabbing the well deserved attention of many. Her latest song “Liquorice” calls out so much of the fetishization of the Black bodies of women and the men of Color who buy into white supremacy. Check out her video for the song below. 


Israeli-born and Detroit raised rapper Invincible  has shared that she learned English via US Hip-Hop.  Invincible has been put in the same spaces as Lauryn Hill when describing her contributions and flow. She is an activist and openly speaks out about oppressions people all over the world are experiencing and making connections to colonization.  Here’s “Ropes”


invincible | Myspace Music Videos

My homegirl Becky suggested Cazwell. I dig this song “Rice and Beans” because of the simple fact that Eduardo in the video is a LatiNegro!  Ok I also dig that Cazwell talks about how he brought the condoms! And not just that but I also appreciate that although the hook is “take me to your mama’s for dinner” and it assumes that the mama is cooking, I don’t see this as a problem, but rather a way that mama’s of Color support and love their openly queer children and challenges those stereotypes that parents and people of Color are homophobic! 

Now, Cazwell is Polish, so his use of men of Color, Spanglish, and other such forms of cultural production by people of Color may be troubling to some, it may be for me I just haven’t spent enough time engaging with his work to make a full analysis, but I want to put it out there that I do see some things coming up for me. 


The next several artists were suggested by my online Femme’ily

Siya has been around for a minute. This is one of the many artists that I struggled with which video to post here for ya’ll to watch because I really dig all of their videos! So, I decided to start with “I’m Gone” but def check out Siya’s website for other videos as well!


 “Dark York” you may download and get the song &Gomorrah also below. I’m not completely sure if Le1f identifies as a rapper exclusively as he is creating music in ways beyond lyricism. His myspace page identifies his music as concrete jungle, but I think Hip-Hop evolves and is more inclusive than some folks may want to believe.


Sgt Sass
 are a duo from Philidelphia with K.D. and D.T. Formed in 2004 and making music seriously since 2007 and shared that in their song “Faggot Snappin” they desire to embrace and claim a term used by outsiders to harm and isolate them.  In “Faggot Snappin” they say “you know who the f*&% we are we aint scared of none of ya’ll” which I really dig. The video is below.


Benni E
 is from Philadelphia and has been described as the “blood pulsating through” the heart of Philly’s queer Hip-Hop scene.  Below is a video from 2009 in Toronto for the Blockorama Pride event. 


MC Jazz
  from Toronto is an “anti-swagger, political queer Egyptian rapper & poet, who makes you move while you groove to truth. Welcome to the Queer Hip-Hop Movement; MC Jazz's lyrics smash the social, sexual and political limitations of today's Hip-hop. She creates strong messages and promotes inclusive music that speaks for those without a voice. She attacks and tears down stereotypes of "who and what we should be" with a vengeance and brings back the real purpose of the spoken word in Hip-hop. After war, and experiencing daily prejudice based on being the "immigrant", rap and spoken word became MC Jazz's most powerful outlet and means of activism” as her Facebook page states.  In her song “Boys Like This” she addresses the use of the term “faggot” by heterosexual men. Check out the live performance below.


Mykki Blanco
 gives me life on a daily basis! In an Interview feature Mykki speaks of being a Black trans artist and rapper. Below is featured clip that includes an interview and street performance by Mykki. I adore that the young women of Color on the street are loving her and supporting her so openly and completely. 


Zebra Katz who, along with Mykki Blanco have gained the attention of many media outlets, especially the BBC who did a story on both of them and the “rise of queer rap.”  I was introduced to Zebra Katz earlier this year by his song “Ima Read” featuring Njena Reddd Foxxx which is below. For those of you not in the know, to read is something that stems from queer people of Color cultural production and engagement. Maybe you’ve heard some folks say “The library is open.” Zebra Katz and Njena Reddd Foxxx basically close the library. 


Saye Skye
 is a 23 year-old Iranian lesbian rapper and activist. Learn more about her work, life, and hear her music at this interview done September of last year.  Below is one of her songs “Executing Rights” with lyrics in English on the screen.


There were so many more suggestions that came my way by the time this had to be sent to my editor! Here are some links of the ones that made it in before publication but that I didn’t have too much time to research and get information on. I’m sure there will be more and I’ll leave them in the comments!

Big Freedia 






Sissy Nobby


Deep Dickollective 


Yo! Majesty 


Miz Korona




Big Momma


Cakes da Killa


Abstract Random


The Lost Bois


Rainbow Noise 


Mz Jonz  


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