For all hip-hop’s tattooed muscle-thugs and booty-shaking bitches, the genre is frightened to death by homos. Combine that with the fact that some find it tough to name any out rapper that isn’t a white guy (like Cazwell, Johnny Dangerous, QBoy, and Soce) and you’ll understand what black homo-hop artists are up against. We’ve rounded up five queer hip-hop artists of color who have more crossover appeal than their campy white counterparts and who’re battling hip-hop homophobia with a potent mix of politics, porn, poetry, funk, rock, and R&B—their off-the-hook tracks will leave you bent for more.
All five should be in heavy rotation.
Origins: 1993 – Washington, DC
Stand-Out Album: The Anthropological Mixtape (2002)
Hear This Now: “Leviticus:Faggot”
The first female artist signed to Madonna’s Maverick record label, German-born bisexual Meshell Ndegeocello (pronounced Mee-shell N-deh-gay-o-chel-o) predates Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill by half a decade and has put out more than both women combined. Ndegeocello doesn’t call herself a hip-hop artist; to her, hip-hop’s a watered-down mainstream derivative that’s hardly countercultural anymore. So instead, she works a postmodern mix of jazz, funk, and rock that’s more Marvin Gaye than Missy Elliot; but don’t let that fool you. She’ll sing about fucking your boyfriend with all the swagger of a pimp then turn around and ponder the dual nature of desire in a gentle upper register.
Origins: 1998 – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Stand-Out Album: Marry Me (2004)
Hear This Now: “Woof!”
An original member of the groundbreaking homohop group Rainbow Flava, Tori Fixx is a grandfather of the queerhop genre, but his songs still sizzle with fresh style and sexual flavor. His 2004 album, Marry Me, not only railed against heartless anti-gay politics, but made monogamy sound sexy and real. Sure, he catches his partner masturbating on couch and leaving skid marks in his underwear, but Tori also devours his body like a soul food buffet. He’s still an active player in the gayhop community—he figures largely into the 2006 homohop documentary Pick Up The Mic and produced queerhop newcomer Johnny Dangerous’ 2006 album, Dangerous Liasons.
Origins: Tampa, Florida – 2006
Stand-Out Album: Futuristically Speaking…Never Be Afraid (2008)
Hear This Now: “Club Action”
Yo Majesty’s female duo may remind you of Salt-N-Pepa and their irresistible bass beats might sound like Basement Jaxx, but they’re not nearly so clean. Jewel B will bare her melon-shaped breasts (link NSFW) for an entire concert and Shunda K will “fuck you like [she’s] got a penis” and then ask “you ever had an orgasm while you piss?” Between their slow reggae jams about getting stoned and wandering the streets and aggressive dance tracks about getting freaky between the sheets, Yo Majesty comes off confident, funny, and smart. They allegedly split after their tour with CSS and The Gossip, but Shunda K still performs their material with unstoppable energy and attitude.
Origins: 2000 – Oakland, California
Stand-Out Album: The Famous Outlaw League of Proto-Negroes (2004)
Hear This Now: “For Colored Boys”
Spoken word musician Tim’m T West lost half his performing gigs when local venue managers discovered he was gay. Out of frustration with a scene that should’ve been more progressive, he founded Deep Dickollective with a fellow Standford PhD student and their friend, Juba Kalamka. Together, their political lyricism pressed the hot buttons of race, queerness, and hip-hop hyper-masculinity with a literary violin rather than a swear-filled beat box. Their group endured eight years and 11 members and gave direction to a new generation of queer hip-hoppers still fighting against institutionalized bigotry.
Origins: 2005 – Los Angeles, California
Stand-Out Album: Not For Non-Profit: The Mixtape (2009)
Hear This Now: “So Magical”
Though Last Offence has got the aggressive manner and hard beats you’ve come to expect from a hip-hopper like Jay-Z, he’s a million times hotter and gayer than Jigga. Alongside his blunt wise-cracks about pounding guys and making asses bleed, he also raps about the so-called Christians that killed men like Harvey Milk and Matthew Shepard. His albums are perfect for working out some good old-fashioned sexual aggression and even better, he’s giving them all away for free on his MySpace blog. They feature the talents Bry’Nt and Nano Reyes and other homohop artists that didn’t make our list.