keep hip hop queer

For my mixtape project, I chose “Keeping Queerness Visible from Artists of South Africa.” As the world becomes more and more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s important that queer people across the globe take up the spaces they weren’t previously allowed or seen in. Hip hop is notoriously trans and homophobic, so the courage of these artists and queer artists across the world to be a representation for their demographic is incredible. It is also imperative as ally’s that people continue to highlight and promote queer voices in every space to continue the worldwide acceptance of the community.

Throughout the mixtape we listen to five queer artists in South Africa that have made great strides for the LGBTQ+ community. From queer liberation to the lack of safety for queer people walking down the street, this mixtape gives an honest representation of the queer experience in South Africa.

The first song on the mixtape is “Out of My Face” by Umlilo. This is another liberating queer anthem that is an homage to queer balls and communities. The music is reminiscent of a retro ballroom banger while the lyrics express the power and joy of the queer identity. Umlilo stated, “It will certainly make people think twice about what they think they know. They can’t get rid of us, we will only multiply and take over the world.” “Out of My Face” is truly a celebration of queerness that allows queer people to feel liberated in their identity.

The second song is by Dope Saint Jude. Her latest single “Go High Go Low” is an anthem of her life as a gay woman. It is a story of triumph and bringing yourself up from the rubble. “Go High Go Low” is not only an anthem for Dope Saint Jude but also for queer people everywhere as it expresses how it is possible to break through each hardship you face as long as you keep fighting for yourself. It also acknowledges that as a queer person you do get knocked down which gives a voice to queer people everywhere that experience this often. The song, however, leaves you with hope and joy as you feel proud to be a queer person and know that you can make it through any tribulation you face.

The third song on the mixtape is “Is’phukphuku” by MX Blouse. This song is described by the queer, gender non-conforming artist themselves as ” a track about freedom, and I am calling it a love letter to all lovers of freedom.” “Is’phukphuku” goes beyond queerness, it’s a song for anyone who hasn’t felt free. It’s for women who have been victims of patriarchy, for trans women who have had so few choices in their lives they’ve felt like their stuck in a box, for non-binary or gender non-conforming people who aren’t recognized as people, or for queer people who constantly fight for their rights to love. It’s a song for all that discusses these spaces where freedom lacks while also liberating the visibility and identity of these groups. The song is about revolution and emerging victorious from these wars.

The fourth song on the mixtape is “Nguban’ Ozosnqanda” by Mr. Allofit. This song speaks about the struggles that Black queer femmes go through. From the song title to the last note on the record, Mr. Allofit proudly delivers with a bravado that provokes the listener’s swagger. The struggles of Black queer femmes are highlighted while also encouraging queer listeners to be exactly who they and be unapologetic about it. “Nguban’ Ozosnqanda” is a song about the power of community and an homage to the queer people that are oppressed by their government. The queer community has a strength that extends across the earth and this song helps connect them.

The final song is by the blazing force that is FAKA. “Uyang’khumbula,” is “an ode to all the queer and femme bodies that have to navigate violence ekasi, an ode to those we’ve lost to hate crimes. This was a voetsek to all the model c’ness that erases disenfranchised black queer [people],” as stated by the members of FAKA. Queer, transgender, and non-binary or gender non-conforming people have been and continue to be erased from countless narratives. “Uyang’khumbula” is a song that helps these people feel seen while demanding queer visibility.

Each of these songs work cohesively to keep queerness visible in South Africa. I hope you enjoy the mixtape!

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