Tag Archives: HYM

Does Queer Rap Actually Exist?

Queer rap is amazing. From Young M.A to MicahTron to HYM to Dio Ganhdih, the genre is bursting with incredible young lesbian rappers. In the past five years, the queer rap genre has exploded.

So what’s the problem?

“Queer rap” doesn’t exist.

Queer rap isn’t a genre. “Rap” is a genre, “hip-hop” is a genre, “R&B” is a genre, but according to Pitchfork, “queer rap” is a label that homogenizes, stigmatizes and marginalizes rappers who happen to be LGBT.

Popular music website Pitchfork wrote about NYC’s queer rap scene a few years ago. They popularized the term “queer rap.” However, they recently retracted their own article.

The label “queer rap” turns musicians into spectacles.

Queer rappers like Dio Ganhdih and Mykki Blanco aren’t evaluated based on the quality of their work; with songs that are lyrically nuanced and sonically stimulating, their work is obviously stellar. But when people write about queer rap, they don’t write about the structure of the lyrics, the narrative thread of the album or the power of a particular instrumental riff. They write about how crazy it is that someone would rap about two girls kissing. They write about how fascinating it is that Young M.A dresses like a man or that Mykki Blanco defies gender. They turn talented musicians into queer freakshows.

“Queer rap” lumps all gay hip-hop artists into one category.

Labeling someone’s art as “queer rap” invites people to lump together two artists creating completely different types of work just because both artists happen to by LGBT. “Queer rappers” Le1f and Mykki Blanco complain that this happens to them quite frequently. I mean, would you assume that Virginia Woolf and James Baldwin were similar just because they both happened to be queer?

“Queer rap” says that sexuality is the most important thing about a musician.

Labeling someone’s work as “queer rap” also broadcast’s the rapper’s sexuality to world, turning off potential listeners before they even play the song. If someone is straight, he or she will probably not give queer rap a chance. This destroys chances for thousands of artists.

Case in point, the biggest queer rapper of our time is Frank Ocean. But he achieved fame because he stayed in the closet until after his first album became a hit. If his music had been labeled “queer rap” from the beginning, few people would have given him a chance.

So what’s the solution? Should we hide that a rapper is queer? Of course not.

But should we lump all rappers together under the “queer rap” umbrella? No. Let’s learn to evaluate them based on their musical merits first.

HYM and Kalypxo Make Queer, Feminist Rap

We take female and gay rapper to the next level.”

That’s the description of the hot new music video Who Dat? from queer rap duo HYM and Kalypxo, who are self-described “young ambitious humyns intent on changing the music industry.”

HYM is unabashedly queer and gender non-conforming, while Kalypxo is a fierce feminist full of self-assurance. Together they make queer, alt-punk rap that challenges gender norms, heterosexuality and everything you thought you knew about hip-hop.

Kalypxo takes her name from Calypso of Homer’s The Odyssey. In The Odyssey, Calypso is a nymph who dwells on the island of Ogygia and falls in love with hero Odysseus. Calypso held Odysseus captive for years until Zeus eventually intervened. According to Posture Mag, this story represents the inextricability of pain and pleasure.

These two themes are vital to Kalypxo’s work, which addresses love, power and the struggles of being a black woman today.

HYM’s name comes from the genderqueer Powerpuff Girls villain who wore stilettos and make-up. While Powerpuff Girls has been called a sucker punch to transgender women, HYM has found empowerment through the androgynous character. HYM replaced the “I” in “him” with a “Y” in order to give the name “a more feminine feel.”‘

Kalypxo and HYM teamed up in order to challenge the largely masculine, largely heterosexual, largely cisgender hip-hop industry. HYM says,

It’s time for the industry to have more openly gay people and more women in the spotlight. I feel like it’s time to understand that ‘gay rappers’ and ‘female rappers’ are just rappers.”

Together, they aim to bring complex lyricism back to music and revive the feel of the old school ’80s and ’90s music. They spend hours poring over each lyric and every detail of their music videos. Says HYM,

We dissect everything. We want to evolve and create.”

For queer-positive, gender-bending hip hop, check out the official Who Dat video.