Queer Voices in Hip Hop

Cultures, Communities, and Contemporary Performance

Subjects: Music, Popular Music, Sexuality Studies, American Studies
Series: Tracking Pop
Paperback : 9780472055685, 164 pages, 6 x 9, November 2022
Hardcover : 9780472075683, 164 pages, 6 x 9, November 2022
Open Access : 9780472903016, 164 pages, 6 x 9, November 2022

This Open Access edition is made available through funding from the H. Earle Johnson Fund of the Society for American Music and the AMS 75 PAYS Fund of the American Musicological Society, supported in part by the NEH and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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Positions queer and trans hip hop artists within a longer tradition of Black queer music

Table of contents

Introduction “I Don’t Have Any Secrets I Need Kept Anymore”:
Out in Hip Hop
Chapter 1 Hip Hop’s Queer Roots: Disco, House, and Early Hip Hop
Chapter 2 Queer Articulations in Ballroom Rap
Chapter 3 “The Bro Code”: Black Queer Women and Female
Masculinity in Rap
Chapter 4 “Nice For What”: New Orleans Bounce and Disembodied
Queer Voices in the Mainstream
Outro “Call Me By Your Name”: Demarginalizing Queer Hip Hop


Notions of hip hop authenticity, as expressed both within hip hop communities and in the larger American culture, rely on the construction of the rapper as a Black, masculine, heterosexual, cisgender man who enacts a narrative of struggle and success.  In Queer Voices in Hip Hop, Lauron J. Kehrer turns our attention to openly queer and trans rappers and positions them within a longer Black queer musical lineage.  Combining musical, textual, and visual analysis with reception history, this book reclaims queer involvement in hip hop by tracing the genre’s beginnings within Black and Latinx queer music-making practices and spaces, demonstrating that queer and trans rappers draw on Ballroom and other cultural expressions particular to queer and trans communities of color in their work in order to articulate their subject positions. By centering the performances of openly queer and trans artists of color, Queer Voices in Hip Hop reclaims their work as essential to the development and persistence of hip hop in the United States as it tells the story of hip hop’s queer roots.

Lauron J. Kehrer is Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology and Musicology at Western Michigan University.

“With careful attention to musical sound, lyrical content, and cultural context, Lauron J. Kehrer brings the submerged Black queer lineage of hip hop to the surface and shows how Black queer and trans rappers from Big Freedia to Young M.A to Lil Nas X and beyond have pursued their careers while balancing artistic goals and industry expectations.  Queer Voices in Hip Hop is an accessible and insightful read that provides a welcome riposte to the persistent erasure of Black queer people from hip hop history and culture.”

- Maureen Mahon, author of Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll

Queer Voices in Hip Hop resists the demonization of hip hop as a flat, toxically masculine space and the inaccurate gender binary that has had a hold in the field of music research on hip hop and identity performance.”

- Alisha Lola Jones, author of Flaming? The Peculiar Theopolitics of Fire and Desire in Black Male Gospel Performance

"Kehrer's text is necessary addition to hip-hop pedagogy, celebrating the work of gender, queer studies, and music scholars through their interpolation of relevant works to tackle contemporary issues. The text truly focuses on the voices: individuals, their stories and contributions, and their efforts for placemaking and humanizing queer perspectives in hip hop while challenging industry expectations." 
-Notes: the Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association

- Notes: the Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association

Want to listen along? Check out this playlist inspired by the book's music. 
Please see our Fulcrum platform for additional resources related to this title.

Listen: Author Interview on New Books in Music | 02/14/2023 | Link
Read: Q&A on the University of Michigan Press blog | 11/01/2022
Read: Interview with Music Journalism Insider | 09/18/2022