The Macklemore and Ryan Lewis marriage equality anthem “Same Love” certainly blew up in 2013 and led to what could possibly be the gayest moment ever at the Grammys.
However, they follow in the long tradition of out LGBT musicians who’ve been both exploring LGBT themes and identity via song and sometimes just having a bit of fun while being out at the same time.
Here are five out LGBT musicians that are definitely worth a listen.
Frank Ocean has still never publicly embraced or even confirmed the B in LGBT, but his admission that an early heartbreaking romantic experience was with a man rocked the music industry in 2012 and set the anticipation for his debut album to a fever pitch. After years of mixtapes and writing for artists like Beyonce, Ocean’s debut Channel Orange arrived and delivered.
The album’s lush melodies and tales of class struggle in his early L.A. days are capped off beautifully with the closer “Forrest Gump,” which has got to be the first explicitly gay love song ever to be released in mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop. Ocean won a Grammy for Channel Orange and is expected to drop his second album sometime in 2014.
Cazwell may not be the first white rapper, or the first gay rapper, or even the first white gay rapper, but he’s the only one we know of. What he lacks in raw lyrical skills he more than makes up with in his humor and tongue-in-cheek delivery.
He’s often shirtless in his videos (if you’re into that kind of thing and we think you are) and includes many local go-go boy fixtures from the NYC gay scene in them. In “Rice and Beans” he professes his love for Latino men while being flanked by, what else, twerking Latino go-go boys. It’s an enterprise that would be vaguely offensive if it weren’t so good natured, totally hot, and strangely innocent.
Former Villanova basketball player turned rapper Will Sheridan mixes hard club beats with an aggressive masculinity and sexuality that makes for something entirely different from the gender-bending motifs of other queer black rappers. His music is dark, sexy, and a little dangerous, made even more so by his imposing 6’8 frame (which, we assure you, is quite the sight in person).
In “S.O.A.P. (Sex On A Platter)” he raps about (what else?) hooking up in the steam room, something which we’re sure none of our readers know anything about. In his live performances, the persona becomes a little more playful. If it all gets a bit too aggressive for you, there’s always this awesome video of him dancing to ‘Yonce’s “Partition.”
In a perfect world, lesbian singer Ariana Castelli‘s single “Love Is Love” would’ve been as big as (if not bigger) than “Same Love.” It’s more fun, more pop, and plays more like a club banger than a maudlin history lesson. The message is simple, direct, and delivered by an out lesbian over a beat that is just ’90s enough to be fashionably retro but not ’90s enough that it sounds dated. Give it a full minute and you’ll be as hooked as we are.
Oh, Azealia Banks, what more is there to say about you? The bisexual rapper blazed onto the scene with viral hit 212 and for a moment was unstoppable. She was a fashion darling, released daring and unconventional videos and mixtapes, the gays loved her, and we all just knew she’d be the next female rapper after Nicki Minaj to become a mainstream superstar.
But that didn’t happen. Because Azaelia likes twitter. A lot. First this happened. Then this. Then there was this and most recently this. We’d rather not write her obituary yet, but with nary a street date in sight for her long delayed debut album Broke With Expensive Taste and a long rumored duet with Lady Gaga nixed because of her “bad attitude” we don’t have high hopes for the future.
Still, we leave you with “Luxury” in the hopes that one day the tart-tongued bi-girl gets it together.