Queer identity plays a huge role in this week’s Music Monday. We start off with a BANG! featuring Tunde Olaniran’s brilliant “Diamonds,” and keep it coming with Leikeli47 and her gang of tough babes, as well as Jay Boogie and brand new Run The Jewels.
AH MER AH SU
AH MER AH SU is the Oakland-based “poptronic princess,” Star Amerasu. Her Rebecca EP discusses “growing up as a teenage transitioned black trans woman,” which you can hear in songs like “Space” and “Empathy.”
“How many trans women are murdered by men who they have had relations with? It makes me angry, it enrages me that the men who are attracted to us often are the ones sending us to the grave,” Amerasu tells Vice regarding her song “Space.” She discusses tough topics while creating incredibly beautiful, dark pop songs that will have you dancing in shared anger and empathy.
If Star Amerasu sounds familiar, you may have seen her appear in season one of Vice’s Gaycation. In the episode, Amerasu discusses trans issues such as access, housing, trans sex workers and prision. Amerasu clearly paints the way all of these things fit into a vicious cycle and shows how Black trans women are truly the most vulnerable adult population in the U.S.
Jay Boogie describes himself as “recording artist, showgirl, provider, motivational speaker and aspiring philanthropist.” The incredible Brooklyn-based Dominican queer artist is bold and unapologetic with a gorgeously flamboyant style of his own.
“Jay Boogie is just a melting pot of a few of the ‘Boogies’ that I look up to,” he says. “You’ve got Liberace with his legendary boogie-woogie craze and then you have L Boogie — that’s Lauryn Hill. I just want to be inducted into the Boogie family,” Boogie explains to Paper Magazine.
He is also not afraid to discuss gender, sexuality and being a queer rapper in a femme-aggressive world.
“Around the fifth grade, I had a choice. This is the moment where I take this, flip it and dip it and make everyone aware before they’re able to label me, or I’m going to be forever scorned,” Boogie says. “What people call ‘gay’ to me is not so much about sexual orientation — it’s a lifestyle, a social construct and how I express myself. I love who loves me. I’m me-sexual.”
When speaking with Dazed, Boogie was asked how he feels being labeled as “queer hip-hop” rather than “mainstream hip-hop.”
“Of course I want to speak to a larger audience but they have to accept themselves before they accept me. What’s your mission statement? Where does your activism lie? I’ve accepted myself, now it’s time to accept your body.”
The first thing one hears when they flip on a Leikeli47 tune is a fun, presumed-to-be-feminine voice. Leikeli47 raps about women and femmes who take zero shit from the world around them but she herself is an incredible friendly, upbeat, positive person. With a sound that feels akin to early ’00s Missy, M.I.A. and Azealia Banks, the rapper gets bodies moving.
While the music may be straight forward, questions start coming when you watch a video and see the diminutive rapper wearing a variety of balaclavas, hiding her identity.
“It distracts from everything that everybody would normally go to,” she explained to Noisey, “what’s she look like, what’s her shape, her complexion.” The semi-automatic rifles that blanket her visual work are similarly explained away as LKs: “what’s coming out of this gun is love. What’s coming out of that gun is fun music. You hear that boom bap, and you just want more. It’s fun!”
Leikeli47 describes music as an escape that she developed as a kid growing up in New York.
“Just imagine waking up to the things that go on out there,” she says. “You have no way to escape, and you have this beautiful thing called music. It’s just like, man, I’m going to wake up and look out the window and paint that dirty building that everybody looks at, this dusty corner that everybody looks at. I’ma paint this in a way that makes it so beautiful that they’re going to love it. People are going to want to know where I’m from, and they’re going to want to dance to it.”
El Guincho is the project run by sample king Pablo Díaz-Reix. The Spanish musician is from the Canary Islands, off the coast of Morocco. With nods to Afro-beat, dub, tropicalia and rock ‘n’ roll (among many others), Díaz-Reix describes his creation as “space-age exotica.”
His recent album was conceived in a sad and rather unusual situation. After seeing a great deal of commercial success from his previous album, Díaz-Reix received bad news: his mother had lung cancer. He decided to return to the Canary Islands to be with her and help her through the long and arduous path to recovery or passing and found himself hauling drum machines and other small equipment to the hospital so he could work during his mother’s chemo sessions.
Sitting in the hospital with his mother, headphones on, Díaz-Reix created loops that would become the foundation of Hiperasia. Through the process, his loops received a great deal of appreciation from the electronic world. He returned to Barcelona, Spain, to work on a new album after his mother’s death. The title comes from the name of a Chinese dollar store in Madrid, in which he imagined all of the little knick-knacks as different sounds, a metaphor for the many loops created through long hours in the hospital.
“We’re humans,” Díaz-Reix tells Spin. “We need change. We need it to be alive, to breathe. If you spend 15 years sitting in the same chair, watching the same TV show, reading the same books, listening to the same records, you’re probably going to be depressed.”