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Queer Hip Hop

Homo Revolution is a national tour of Queer hip hop artists. It’s interesting to reflect on the acts and meanings of queer hip hop as we think about building queer tango.

One of the first observations is that artists have a lot of very different messages around gender and sexuality. Queer hip hop is…. gay people who want to create hip hop…. drag kings and queens who use hip hop images as part of their gender performances… transpeople who want to play with hip hop’s gender constructions…. and so much more…

The second observation is that hip hop is a space and language of joy and play, a space of liberation, which queer artists are expanding on, by challenging its boundaries. When they critique hip hop they are doing so from a position of also loving it and wanting to express themselves within it. But they also need and push it to get bigger.

The third observation is the power of the intensity of gender challenge (is that a gay man or a drag king?), which eventually results in a collapse of categories and an invitation to travel to another place… what that other place is, well, i don’t think we know yet.

We failed to grasp the names of all the performers we saw, but the whole list is at the bottom. Most of them can probably be found on Myspace, others mentioned being part of some kind of interactive function of MTV. We did see 5 of the 8 artists on the tour.

FoxxJazell is an African American high femme (transwoman). She performed with male dancers wearing (awkwardly) underwear. Her lyrics drew attention to gender expectations such as “women you better shake that ass, guys you better earn that cash”. She challenged gender roles in the larger society, and reproduced in hip hop, while also demonstrating the possibility of taking a different route. She played with her power (as a femme? as a gay man?) to reveal hip hop’s objectification by placing men in the role of women dancers, producing pleasure for the audience. In her lyrics, she also asserted the possibility of some women wanting casual sex as agents, rather than victims of male desire (and disempowered victims of prurient onlookers and critics of hip hop).

The next artist was a white person who identified as a gay man and who called out other men for being “low down tricks” because they wanted sex with men but then pretend to be straight.

Later, an African American performer also challenged the exclusion of gay men from hip hop.

Unecc, an African American lesbian artist visually analogous to Supernatural, without at all presenting herself as a man, engaged in the hip hop contest over male sexuality. Yes at 1 am she’s fucking, at 2 am, at 3 am, and still at 4 am, she’s fucking, but she asserts her sexual prowess in ways that her straight male competitors don’t…

To reiterate the earlier points and apply them to tango: It’s important that we understand that critiques of gender roles that we will make as part of queer tango are not anti-tango. We love tango. It is a space of liberation and joy. But we also want and need this space to get bigger. It needs to get bigger so that gay and transpeople can enjoy it. It will also get bigger in its meaning as a space of playful experimentation and challenge, where we may expand the macho and femme fantasies to the point that their absurdity is made plain and their possibilities explode. Not only who is the most macho man? But what does he do?

The artists: DEADLEE, MelAnge, LAVONNE, Bigg Nugg, Shorty Roc, DaLyrical, FoxxJazell, Unecc, CATEYEZ

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