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Photo of Le1f performing Photo of Le1f performing

4 Queer Hip Hop Artists Better Than Macklemore

By Asam Ahmad

Photo of Le1f performing

Sometimes American pop culture can feel like an unending cannibalistic orgy where Black and African-American art forms are constantly consumed and regurgitated by White artists for more money, more fame and more credibility. As Jon Caramanica wrote in the New York Times on Monday:

In a nutshell, this is the entire cycle of racial borrowing in an environment of white privilege: black art, white appropriation, white guilt, repeat until there’s nothing left to appropriate.

So instead of writing yet another article debating or debunking Macklemore’s usefulness as an “ally” (lawl), let’s look at 4 queer hip hop artists who have been making music that celebrates queers and their magic long before a pasty white boy came onto the scene:

1. Angel Haze

Detroit native Raykeea Angel Wilson, better known as Angel Haze released her EP Reservation online for free in 2012 before being signed on to Universal Republic Records. Her freestyle (!) version of Same Love is astonishing in its versatility and has a rawness and authenticity that wannabe allies simply cannot communicate.

2. Cakes de Killa

Cakes da Killa is gay. Like, really really gay. Like, spits rhymes like: “Make a nigga take a course in rimming / Eat my shit like a feast and don’t forget the trimmings.” Oh, sorry, is that too frank for y’all? I forgot gay people aren’t supposed to talk about gay sex if we want acceptance. Sorry, not sorry.

3. Le1f

Listening to Le1f for the first time (or for the millionth) is like having your expectations of sonic rhythms and melodies turned on their head. Or, you know, turned really, really queer. His aural creativity is only matched by the brilliance of his rhymes. There’s also the awkward fact that Thrift Shop is basically a lesser imitation of Wut’s thrilling bassline.

4. Mykki Blanco

Mykki Blanco’s existence is like being reminded that there are other magical genderqueer unicorns out there and they don’t all live in the bay area and attend Berkeley. Little known fact: she wrote a short collection of poetry titled “From the Silence of Duchamp to the Noise of Boys” before releasing her EP in 2012. Blanco’s gender presentation sometimes takes attention away from her musical output, but songs like Wavvy clearly show us there is oodles of talent behind the persona.

I hope folks will share and listen to these amazingly gifted artists. I am really sick and tired of well-meaning straight folks telling me about Macklemore when they usually don’t even know any of these queer hip hop artists’ names. If the only reason you care about LGBTQ rights is because a straight white man is telling you to do so, please stop.

This kind of support or “allyship” is meaningless because it renders all of us queers invisible, and perpetuates white and hetero supremacy by letting us know that the only voices you are capable of hearing are the voices of straight white men. You might not know it but we don’t need white straight saviors when we already have so much magic and brilliance to keep us alive.

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Asam Ahmad



pop culture


January 30, 2014

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