Hip hop is a powerful artistic tool for expression. In celebration of Pride we are highlighting some of the LGBTQ performers who’ve chosen hip hop as their canvas. These are MC’s who come out with courage, rocking rhymes with an emphasis on sexual orientation and gender expression. The music blasts a message of empowerment to the communities they represent, from the underground to the mainstream.
Often under fire for lyrically depicting misogyny and homophobia, hip hop may seem like an unlikely medium for LGBT artists, but not so. LGBTQ hip hop has roots in old school classics. Rappers like Queen Latifah, Da Brat, Medusa, Bahamadia and Invincible were showing and proving back in the day without wearing their identity on their sleeve. Those who loved and supported these artists saw the writing on the wall and connected with their art, style and vibes. This began to tear away the fear and open up opportunies for artists like Cazwell, Deadlee and Angel Haze to put their stamp on hip hop.
Early on, in the underground, artists like Tim’m West and Juba Kalamka of DDC were forming scenes. Coming out of the Bay Area, they started one of the first black gay male hip hop groups. They also created the Peace Out festival, originally founded in Oakland then becoming international, a live showcase for celebrating queer hip hop artists.
The Next Generation
A legitimate movement has formed. Pandora created our LGBTQ Hip Hop station so that our listeners can hear music from well-known artists like Azealia Banks and Yo Majesty, plus discover emerging artists like Le1f and Cakes Da Killa. We want to share this music so that new generations of LGBTQ rappers are inspired.
Tune it to LGTBQ Hip Hop to hear these and other artists, growing their community and sound on Pandora.
Artists To Watch For
Big Freedia is the queen of bounce, a subgenre of hip hop originating from New Orleans. Freedia’s popularity exploded with appearances on Jimmy Kimmel, Treme, Voodoo Fest, Outside Lands and a reality-show on Fuse. Taking twerk to the world over the sound of trigger man.
Brooklyn-based MC, Cakes da Killa is rising fast and working hard. He started off in 2013 with The Eulogy released on Mishka Records, then dropped two mixtapes in 2014 under his Hunger Pangs label. In 2015, Cakes comes alive with his EP #IMF, plus collaborations with Shiftee and Moonbase Comander showcasing tales of beauty, lust and late night vibes.
Mykki Blanco gets wavy with several top shelf producers including Brenmar, Flosstradamus, Matrixxman and Sinden. With constant output as a solo artist and guest appearances with Cities Aviv, Basement Jaxx and Cakes Da Killa, Mykki is the MC who’s changing the game.
Azealia Banks keeps it Broke with Expensive Taste, creating a multi genre musical experience to showcase her vocal energy. From electronic soundscapes to Latin rhythm sections over straight up hip hop beats, Azealia’s talent shines on each release.
THEESatisfaction is a hip hop and R&B duo featured on Seattle’s Sub Pop records. Rapper Stasia “Stas” Irons and singer Catherine “Cat” Harris-White were discovered as collaborators with Shabazz Palaces and have gone on to build a large fan base touring and performing the Black Weirdo parties.