I would like to preface that this is not a canonical list of all queer rappers. I have placed emphasis on BIPOC queer rappers. Bias is inevitable, so I have chosen to lean into it and emphasize the rappers who I love the most! Most of these rappers fall under subgenres of rap that are championed by cis women and queer rappers in an effort to blaze distinct trails separate from cishet hip hop.
I have given the spotlight to lesser-known queer artists in the spirit of equity. Notable queer legends that I have omitted from my list despite their suitability include Todrick Hall, Angel Haze, Azealia Banks, Big Freedia, Le1f, Rico Nasty, Cupcakke, and Yo Majesty.
Born Justin Harris in Tallahassee, Florida, they are openly gay and gender non-conforming. They launched their career as a makeup artist for the City Girls and began dropping music on SoundCloud in 2019. Saucy released three albums in 2020 and has just released their fourth album entitled Outside in August 2021. Check out their hit song: Here We Go! For more on Saucy, read here.
Kid Kenn (real name Dontrell) is an openly gay rapper from Southside Chicago’s drill music scene. At just 18 years old, he is the latest spokesperson for so many burgeoning queer youth and his single Good Day should exemplify that. For more on Kidd Kenn, read here.
Aja LaBeija (from The Royal House of LaBeija founded in 1972 by Crystal LaBeija and Lottie LaBeija) made her name known with her drag performances via the popular television show RuPaul’s Drag Race (US). Season 9 showed us Aja’s ability to slay in drag, but it was their post-drag race career that really took Aja to a new level of gender variance in art that has allowed Aja to express a more authentic extension of who they are at their core. This has included accepting themselves as non-binary (she/they pronouns) and as a person of colour with roots in Morocco and Egypt. Black Ariel ft. Widow Von’du, Amira Wang, Kezra Leon is an empowering collection of BIPOC rappers, likely responding to the racist backlash surrounding Halle Bailey’s portrayal of “Black Ariel.” For more on Aja, read here.
With her large black and white curly hair and eye-catching catsuits, Londynn B made her name known through her amazing personality on the premiere season of Rhythm and Flow. She’s most recognized for being an openly lesbian mother from Atlanta, and for her creation and performance of I Can’t Change and Only One which had all the judges astounded. For more on Londynn B, read here.
Jay Will is an openly bisexual rapper. He has noted that getting into the rap scene was hard as a bisexual in Compton. Not surprisingly, the thing that made him more popular, more legible, and more authentic in the rap scene was when he began transforming himself into the drag character Kandie. If Jay Will can’t get their attention, Kandie’s long colourful bundles, long extravagantly detailed nails, and nose ring sure will! Worst Day is a perfect example of his effortless rapping abilities. For more on Kandie, read here.
Quay Dash is a trans rapper from New York City. Her debut (and only) album entitled Transphobic definitely shatters stigma and prejudice around what it means to be a contemporary trans woman! Check out Decline Him, and for more on Quay, read here.
Leikeli47 defines herself publicly as “queer” and is known for their fashionable face-coverings. They wear masks for all professional performances and appearances in an effort to keep the focus on their art rather than their face. In Wash & Set, Leikeli47 pays homage to New York ball culture and is most popular in Brooklyn’s gay club circuit. For more on Leikeli, read here.
Real name Sian Van Der Muelen, Miss Blanks is a rapper from Brisbane, Australia. Since the term “trans” can feel limiting to some people of non-western cultures, Blanks identifies as fa’afafine — a Samoan term signifying a third-gender where, for example, boys who are effeminate will be taught “in the manner of a woman” as per the term translation. Check out her latest single Fly High, and read more about Blanks here.
Controverse is a gay rapper from Brooklyn who released his debut EP entitled Controverse released in 2020. Gotta Get You Home is a perfect combination of rapping and singing, hip hop and R&B. Controverse is still a very new artist and is perhaps only identifying themselves as “controversial” — as made known by his stage name — in relation to heteronormative society. Learn more about him here.
Real name Dainene Alexia Baldwin from Queens, New York City, Dai identifies as queer because the umbrella term allows them to avoid identifying with “just one thing.” Dai Burger’s Bite the Burger is a perfect example of the “raunch” subgenre. Read more about bubbly, colourful Dai here.
Cakes da Killa
Born Rashard Bradshaw, Cakes da Killa is an openly gay man from New Jersey. He often utilizes hip hop, electronic, and house beats to compliment his visceral lyrics — check out Don Dada with Proper Villains. Rashard even auditioned in front of Cardi B, Fat Joe and Jadakiss, and successfully progressed to the cyphers on Rhythm and Flow. If you’re interested in Cakes da Killa’s perspectives on him being the “first gay rapper,” read here. Hint: Cakes da Killa addresses the inherent homophobia in suggesting that no gay rappers have come before him, proceeding to give his respects to his “foremothers,” Le1f and Mykki Blanco.
Mykki Blanco identifies as transgender and uses the pronouns she/her and they/them. They are also openly HIV positive, serving as a strong advocate for sexual health and shattering HIV stigma. It’s Not My Choice ft. Blood Orange is a beautiful example of their work. More on Mykki here. They even had a feature with Teyana Taylor and Kanye West in 2018, where he received no credit or monetary compensation for several years.
Though I have identified Shayna McHayle’s rap persona, Junglepussy, as queer, they really go to all efforts to resist categorization. Arugula should exemplify their efforts. No matter what Junglepussy does, they are authentic to themself! She reminds me of a real-life Mystique — a creature all her own, combining the sexy with the eerie, demonstrating her strong will and inability to be stopped. Read more about Junglepussy here.
Frasqueri identifies as a bisexual Black indigenous Puerto Rican and credits the queer community of New York City for influencing her music. Sugar Honey Iced Tea is such a bop it hurts! Read more about her here.
Published by HOLR Magazine