13 QPOC Rappers Dominating the Mic and Your Pride Playlist
Some of the most interesting music today comes from queer rappers and hip-hop artists. But only recently have queer artists been able to take both the genre and their sexuality to the mainstream together.
As innovators of hip-hop, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite queer rappers that we’d also like to see ride the wave of financial success like their straight peers. And if there ever was a time to support queer BIPOC artists, it’s now.
Check out some of our favorite queer rappers below:
1. Big Freedia
Freddie Ross, better known as Big Freedia, is a local New Orleans artist who went worldwide on the back — and the backside — of the late 2000s bounce craze. (If you don’t know what this is, it will all be made clear to you in this video for “Gin in My System.” Now go practice.) Since then Freedia has parlayed the moment into a Fuse reality program, Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce, has appeared on Beyoncé’s Lemonade and has kept a distinct brand of booty-shaking and rump-rolling in the public eye.
2. Frank Ocean
He’s not the first sexually fluid black artist to come down the pike, but in some respects Frank Ocean may be the most significant. We shall see. Other artists rallied around him — particularly Beyoncé and Jay-Z — and his otherworldly hip-hop has connected with millennials of every stripe. But whether it’s “Novacane” or “Bad Religion” or “Solo” you never doubt you’re listening to an artist who likes to push the boundaries of his music as much as he feels the need not to make a secret of his sexuality.
3. Brockhampton / Kevin Abstract
On the strength of 2016’s American Boyfriend — an album that details the trials and tribulations of high-school same-sex lovers — this L.A.-based wunderkind is an artist to watch. On tracks like “Empty” and “Echo” he’s the natural heir to Frank Ocean, only less complicated and less artsy, though that’s not to say his music isn’t artful. And his boy band Brockhampton has released four great albums with several queer bangers.
4. Mykki Blanco
She’s a trans hyphenate — rapper–activist–poet-etc. — with one studio release to her name, a few mixtapes, a few EPs and a point of view that’s changing as quickly as the gender she refuses to define or be defined by. It makes no difference what you call Mykki Blanco. But listen and learn how a trailblazing spirit specifies themself from day to day and turns into the human being of their dreams (“High School Never Ends ft. Woodkid,” “Loner ft. Jean Deaux”).
5. Princess Nokia
Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, better known Princess Nokia has talked about growing up in NYC’s queer community, getting her start performing in gay nightlife. Whether she’s rapping about green eggs and ham in a Matilda-themed music video, or spitting bars about her “little titties and fat belly,” Frasqueri is lyrically visceral. With four studio albums under her belt, and an eclectic mix of rap, emo, and electro, Princess Nokia is the bisexual, gender-nonconforming queen we’ve been waiting for.
6. Young M.A
Young M.A became a household name in 2016 with the release of “OOOUUU,” a brashly lesbian summer bop. She then followed it up with one of the best-delivered freestyles during the BET Awards cyphers. While hip-hop hasn’t necessarily had a shortage of bar-spitting or sexually fluid femcees, none have challenged gender as aggressively as Young M.A. She’ll boastfully get head from any
cheap ho rich bitch.
7. Zebra Katz
Zebra Katz’s breakthrough hit highlighted one of ball culture’s most fundamental pastimes — reading. With dart-like verbal accuracy and a knee-quaking beat, “Ima Read,” featuring Njena Reddd Foxxx, is thought by many to be the first true crossover from the wave of queer rappers during the early 2010s. Zebra Katz has since been featured in Rick Owens’ fashion show, remixed by Grimes and Busta Rhymes, has collaborated with Gorillaz and has gone on tour with Scissor Sisters.
Yaeji grew up a transplant, moving from New York to Atlanta to South Korea to Japan, and eventually back to the United States to study conceptual art and East Asian studies. Now bound to NYC, Yaeji is shifting perceptions of what hip-hop can be. A blend of electronic music and trap beats with hushing vocals, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard anything like her before. Yaeji’s also known to host a queer party called “Curry in No Hurry” in her New York City apartment, where she blasts new music and serves up Japanese-style curry.
9. Tyler, The Creator
Tyler, The Creator started his career as a lyrically-skilled shock rapper (see: ‘‘Yonkers’), which at times, got him in trouble for homophobic and misogynistic language. At that same young age, he also created Odd Future, a hip-hop collective of now-famous performers including Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt and Syd. With the release of his Grammy-nominated album Flower Boy, Tyler the Creator ditched the shock-value bars, for more introspective lyrics, and in the process, he came out to his fans. His Grammy-winning album Igor confirmed his superiority.
10. Cakes da Killa
The rapper born Rashard Bradshaw has one studio album out — Hedonism — and a few mixtapes. He’s one of the bright lights in the still-nascent LGBTQ hip-hop genre, and his flow is rapid-fire. “Gon Blow feat. Rye Rye” will turn your head.
11. Quay Dash
Trans rapper Quay Dash is a force to be reckoned with. The Bronx-born performer is signed under Cunt Mafia’s label, home to many LGBTQ artists. Lively and ferocious, her EP Transphobic makes it clear that she’s wholeheartedly unafraid to be herself. But we think she sums herself up best: “I’m black, I’m trans and I can actually rap. Plus, I’m pretty…” Indeed.
12. Angel Haze
Detroit-born, New York City-based rapper Angel Haze is both pansexual and agender. Hitting the scene fast and hard in the early 2010s, Haze took the arguably queer-baiting Macklemore and Ryan Lewis hit “Same Love” and gave it an authentically queer presence. (Though let it be known the featuring act in the original song, Mary Lambert, is indeed a lesbian). Haze’s latest mixtape, Back to the Woods, has received critical acclaim.
Three mixtapes, two EPs and one full-length put American rapper Khalif Diouf, aka Le1f, into the hip-hop conversation. Yet despite the highlights of that full-length album Riot Boi, homophobia in hip-hop runs deep. Maybe by the time his sophomore record drops — and thanks to the inroads made others — he’ll get the public hearing he deserves.
And If you want to check out even more queer artists, head over to our encyclopedia of LGBTQ musicians.
What do you think of our list of queer rappers and LGBTQ hip-hop artists? Which queer rappers did we miss?