This mixtape shines a well deserved light on five African hip hop artists who are challenging the heteronormative culture prevalent in much of Africa through their music. In many African countries, such as the ones these artists hail from, it can be dangerous to be openly LGBTQ+. These artists are taking great steps to normalizing the simple fact that love is love, and it isn’t a choice. The first artist on this mixtape is the iconic queer rapper from Cape Flats, South Africa, Dope Saint Jude. She is known for challenging gender roles and for her representation of LGBTQ+ people in her music videos. The music video song on this mixtape “Go High, Go Low” contains exciting visuals as well as artistic scenes and presentation of queer love. The video evokes a sense of proudness in being LGBTQ+, an important message for LGBTQ+ supporters who may be living in an environment where it isn’t acceptable to be yourself. She is of the first African hip hop artists I’ve seen include intimate queer scenes in her music videos. The visibility of queer love is so important because it actively challenges the heteronormative nature of mainstream rap videos.
The next artists featured on this list are FAKA, the group featuring Fela Gucci and Desire Marea from South Africa. They consistently use their art to amplify the voices and culture of queer people. The “Queenie” music video begins with audio of different LGBTQ+ people speaking on their experiences with their sexuality and societal perception. FAKA uses their platform to spread awareness on what it means to be queer. Not only do they celebrate their identity, but they shine light on issues affecting the community. The video features the artists in gender bending outfits with wigs and full makeup looks. This representation is necessary to show the world that it is okay to dress and present oneself as they choose, regardless of the gender they were assigned to at birth. Videos like “Queenie” validate the many LGBTQ+ Africans who often do not see representations of people like themselves in the mainstream media. The music video features a diverse range of nonbinary people, so members of the LGBTQ community such as myself feel represented and uplifted. Queenie is a song on this mixtape that will encourage you to take pride in who you are and remain confident.
Grammo Suspect is one of the only openly lesbian rappers on the scene in Kenya right now. Her new album with songs titled “Our Love is Valid” and “My Identity” speaks about queer relationships. Gramma Suspect is an LGBTQ+ activist and often speaks out on issues affecting the community through rap and spoken word. The chorus of her song “My Identity” highlights the powerful message she delivers in her song, “This is my identity, not a choice, change your mentality. This is my sanity and it’s not a disability” (Grammo Suspect 2017). Although she hasn’t gained mainstream popularity or has the budget to produce an upscale video yet, her message is clear: her sexuality is valid and not a choice. This combats the homophobic narrative that many officials in Kenya use to pass harmful legislation. The invalidation of LGBTQ+ people is a huge issue in Kenya and Grammo Suspect is paving the way for much needed reform.
Much like Grammo Suspect, Mx Blouse is one of very few non binary artists making waves in the African music industry. Mx Blouse is an impressive up and coming artist from South Africa defies gender norms in every aspect of their artistry. Their name Mx Blouse, uses the non binary honorific pronoun in place of ms or mr. Mx Blouse is known for challenging the gender binary in fashion as well. They are often seen wearing dresses, heels, and makeup in addition to the blouses which garnered their namesake. The music video No Match features Mx Blouse rapping in Xhosa in multiple non binary eccentric fashion looks. Mx Blouse challenges gender norms in their identity and style in addition to providing representation for the queer population of South Africa.
The final artist on this list, Angel-Ho is featured on the Dope Saint Jude track, Keep in Touch. Both artists are known for confronting heteronormativity in their music and every day lives. Dope Saint Jude and Angel-Ho both consistently challenge gender norms in their clothing and make up choices. They’ve also both been vocal on gender and sexuality in interviews and social media. The video keep in touch features Dope Saint Jude with a femme love interest which is just another example of the representation of queer love that she is known for. Angel-Ho’s chorus, “we vogue in the morning” gives a shout out to the ballroom culture started by the LGBTQ community.