When you delve into the world of queer Black musicians, it may mean that you’ll uncover a large number of talented folks who haven’t broken into the mainstream just yet — but deserve just as much praise. From rap, soul, and R&B, to punk, jazz, pop, and genres that have yet to be invented. June is Black Music Month and Pride Month — and as it comes to a close, check out these immensely talented queer Black artists and support their work!
XXL 2020 Freshman Class entrant and all-around badass — CHIKA is an extremely talented rapper and songwriter. She’s a soulful and powerful lyricist with music that just makes you feel good. She released her EP Industry Games in 2020 and it earned her nominations from the Grammys and NAACP Image Awards. She’s a bisexual babe and has been making killer music for years — and she’s got one of the cleanest Tiny Desk Concerts yet.
🗣 Listen to: “Can’t Explain It” featuring Charlie Wilson. It’s jam-packed with 90’s soul and aesthetic, and the music video pays homage to A Different World, only gayer.
Joy Oladokun’s blend of Folk, Rock, and R&B music feels like a warm hug. Her latest album in defense of my own happiness (vol. 1), is perfect to cry along to as you look out a rainy window. Her music speaks to her experience as a queer Black woman, and for me feels like a precise summary of what it feels like to not be accepted everywhere you go. She wrote the song “i see america” during the George Floyd protests last year, and it’s a powerful song that examines grappling with racism while living in America.
🗣 Listen to: “taking the heat.” A remarkable analysis of what it feels like to have the weight of the world on your shoulders while everyone else seems fine. A universal feeling that Joy expresses flawlessly.
Syd rose to fame as a member of Odd Future and later went on to form her own band, The Internet. Her debut solo album, Fin, released in 2017 and is full of bops. Syd’s vocals are silky smooth and Fin showcased a distinctive and focused style unlike anything we’ve heard from her before.
🗣 Listen to: Syd’s latest track “Missing Out.” Her first solo single since 2017, it’s a slow-burning melody about getting over an ex.
Quay Dash is not to be fucked with. Her 2017 EP Transphobic, showcases Quay’s masterful flow and instructs us to bow down before the true Queen. The album also puts bigots in their place, making it clear that oppression and hate won’t stop her from making music or being herself. “I’m black, I’m trans, and I can actually rap. Plus, I’m pretty… When you have beauty, brains, and talent, that’s some shit they can’t take.”
🗣 Listen to: 2017 single “Queen of This Shit.” It was featured on HBO hit Euphoria and is a hypnotic jam.
Dai Burger has been rapping since 2010! She has appeared in music videos and on stage with Lil Kim, Lil Mama, Soulja Boy, and Beyoncé. Her sophomore album Bite the Burger has a little bit of everything — Rap, Electronica, and even some Punk. The New York rapper stays true to her roots and sticks to the foodie theme in her music. With lyrics like “Vitamin P / P for pussy / P for power / P for pride and prestige” how could you not want to take a bite of Dai Burger?
🗣 Listen to: “Vitamin P.” This song delivers exactly what the girls need.
Lead vocalist and guitarist for rock band Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard is a musical force. She has a strong and expressive tonality in her voice that injects passion and soul right into her music. Her solo debut album, Jamie, is phenomenal and a complete departure from her previous work. Named for her late sister, the album explores many personal and family dramas Howard has dealt with in life. She didn’t realize she was a lesbian until she was 25, when she saw people who were in same-sex relationships that were unabashedly living their lives.
🗣 Listen to: “Stay High.” It’s an airy, subtle song accompanied only by acoustic guitar, and powerful both in voice and theme.
Angel Haze doesn’t hold back when it comes to expression in her music. Angel’s music touches on racism, rape, mental illness, and homophobia, just to name a few. This two-spirit artist is masterful at exploring complex topics and turning thoughts into absolute bangers. Haze’s unapologetic and strong assuredness comes out in lyrics like – “I don’t care what you think about it. This is who I am. And I can either force-feed you this shit or you can take it as you will.”
🗣 Listen to: “Moonrise Kingdom.” A dark, pensively melodic song that easily lends itself to being a rap, but subverts expectations and ultimately strikes hot with impressive pop vocals.
Arlo Parks is a singer-songwriter from London whose debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams released earlier this year, garnering her nominations for the 2021 Brit Awards and peaking at number three on the UK Albums Chart. She came out as bisexual at 17 and has been taking over the world ever since. Her voice is enchanting and buttery smooth, with lyrics that are often poetic and beautifully tender.
🗣 Listen to: “Eugene.” A touching love confession and explores the experience of being queer and falling for your straight best friend —an uncomfortably familiar moment for many of us.
Kehlani’s journey has been so rewarding to watch. They have spoken openly about being homeless and couch surfing, and have come a long way since auditioning for America’s Got Talent. Their 2020 album It Was Good Until It Wasn’t was perfection — and not just because the title perfectly described the year itself. The album really encapsulates the complex emotional struggles of ending a relationship. Kehlani has identified as queer for most of her music career, and earlier this year announced that they are a lesbian.
🗣 Listen to: “Honey.” The 2017 single perfectly showcases Kehlani’s syrupy sweet voice. It makes you wanna find a girlfriend so you can hold up your giant boombox outside her window at 2 a.m. while playing this on repeat.
With more than a decade of writing and co-writing credits, from Ariana’s “Thank U, Next” to Chloe x Halle’s “Do It,” Victoria is certainly an incredibly talented songwriter. She released her first singing project in 2014 with the debut EP Nightmares & Lullabies: Act 1. Listening to her music is refreshing, her soothing and soft voice envelopes you while her lyrics meander through your mind. She publicly came out as bisexual on Twitter in 2018, saying “I came into my own, and I’m going to be true to who I am.”
🗣 Listen to: “Touch Me” featuring Kehlani. This song is easily a new anthem for queer girls everywhere, “..and when you rock them short nails, that’s low key sentimental..” is one of the most perfect song lyrics in existence.
While this list has already been hella long, the amount of queer Black artists and musicians doesn’t stop here. Check out the playlist below for some beautiful music by these beautiful people, and make sure to branch out and discover more talented folks too. Who are your favorite Black queer artists that you’re celebrating this (and every) month?