The Queered Origins of Rap

An excerpt from the scholarly composition “Pick My Fruit Out: Queer Rap and Gains for Black Womanhood (2000-2015).” Originally presented in May 2014 at the University at Buffalo Transnational Studies Queer Relativity/Modern Family: Genealogies of Time, Space, and Theory Micro Conference curated by Dr. Christine Varnado.


“The musical biography of Rap is composed of many genres, most notably hymnal Gospel, African oral tradition, and Disco. Historian, Scott Poulson-Bryant argues that disco is foundational to Rap’s membership as queer music. Disco’s position was a jovial soundtrack to the Sexual Revolution increased visibility of othered people especially Blacks who authored the Disco and Funk catalog. Gay/straight/queered people co-mingled in clubs to anthems that graphically and metaphorically described multiple kinds of sex and sexualities. Like Rock, Disco was bedazzled in coded language by multifaceted queer persons of color and opposed previous personifications of Black music that reflected heteronormative coupling with respectable singing/performance for the White Gaze.

Infectious yet rebellious, disco instrumentals were chopped and reincarnated into beats (repeated audible pulsations) which would be foundational for Rap music. Rap is creative vocalization over a beat authored by minoritized groups in marginalized situations. These formative beats of Rap were sampled from queer music, the subject matter and artists of early Rap are queer because they engaged in discourse that argued with the pleasant subject matter of the dominant culture’s music and the hegemonic standard of life and liberty.” (c) Jewel Jevin Brooks

Jewel Brooks is a New York based media critic, anchor and on-air personality. Follow her antics here and her facial expressions here.

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