By Freddie Jacob
Pride month may be behind us, but every day is a good day to advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
Happiness, joy, love, vibe, reflection, and sorrow are emotions that transcend time and season. Music is the greatest vehicle for conveying emotion, and in this regard, LGBTQ+ artistes have always used art and music to defy social norms and protest cis-heteronormativity. Music has always been a necessary tool for revolution, especially for queer folks who are music lovers and even artistes themselves.
Afrocritik in collaboration with Bitch Radio has curated a list of 10 queer songs that cut across multiple genres, ranging from funk to pop, trance and RnB. This list is specifically curated with a view to reiterate support for queer rights and freedom in Nigeria, celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, and make queer Nigerians dance.
1. You’re The One – KAYTRANADA (featuring Syd)
“You know I want you, baby, you know I do
I’ll give you my heart and the rest is up to you”
KAYTRANADA is a gay Haitian-Canadian record producer and DJ, he has won two Grammy awards to his name. “You’re The One” is the 11th song off his 2016 debut studio album 99.9%, released in 2016. The song includes vocals from Syd, a gay American singer-songwriter who is a member of the band The Internet. “You’re The One” is a feel-good, catchy, disco-influenced track that exudes harmony with echoes of happy love.
2. Sun Goes Down – Lil Nas X
“I wanna run away
Don’t wanna lie, I don’t want a life”
Unlike the jolly smash hit ‘Montero (Call Me by your name)’, Lil Nas X expresses his past depressive suicidal thoughts, loneliness, and struggle to accept his identity in an emotional song that has a running time of 148 seconds. In the song’s music video, he is depicted as his own guardian angel and pillar of hope; his future self reminds his past teen self that there is more to life than dying. while also highlighting that his musical ability gave him a place to belong.
“Sun Goes Down” could pass for almost every queer person’s anthem, especially for queer people in countries where queer identity is persecuted and criminalized. It also resonates with queer teens who struggle with their identity and find it difficult to fit into Nigerian society.
3. They/Them – Atlas
“You know it’s they/them, as in me and most of mine
Some identical identity, I keep ‘em close beside”
Atlas is a nonbinary rapper who addresses their gender identity and defiance to cis-heteronormativity and binary gender rhetoric in their track “They/Them”, the third song on their album Flowers.
4. Baby Can I Hold You – Tracy Chapman
“Baby, can I hold you tonight?
Maybe if I told you the right words”
‘Baby Can I Hold You’ is the third single released in 1988 by award-winning singer and songwriter Tracy Chapman. This song is a melodic love ballad, whose lyrics flow from the perspective of someone ruing a failed relationship, and wishing that they had used the right words to express their emotions correctly.
5. Make Me Feel – Janelle Monae
As the lead single off her third studio album, Dirty Computer (released in 2018), this song is a sensual funk tune with high-octane energy. The music video, which features actress Tessa Thompson, showcases the colors of the bisexual flag. Sultry, explicit and irreverent, this track easily works as an anthem for bisexuality.
6. Rainbow Dragon – Keiynan Lonsdale
“Your open mind ain’t opened right
Cause you still fight
What have we done?”
Keiynan Lonsdale is not only our kid flash, he is also our rainbow dragon who released this beautiful and colorful single in 2019. In an interview with Pride, he describes the song as one born out of the need to rise in confidence, address some insecurities, and release the rage that he had been suppressing for years. He also considers it to be a self-love anthem.
7. Bi Pride – Domo Wilson
“I am bi
And imma rep it to the day I f***n die”
Similar to her song “Bisexual Anthem”, this track celebrates the identity of the songwriter, singer, rapper, and social media personality. In “Bi Pride”, Domo Wilson makes it clear that her bisexuality is valid, and that she’s not speaking from a state of confusion.
8. Go High Go low – Dope Saint Jude
“Yes, we go high
And we go low
And we don’t ever show no signs that we go slow”
Dope Saint Jude is a South African queer rapper and drag king who uses her voice to highlight social and political issues. “Go high go slow” is a song of joy whose sonic rhythm leans towards electro. The music video is shot in Cape Town where she grew up, highlighting the artist’s upbringing and subtly passing several political messages.
9. You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) – Sylvester
Appearing on the openly gay artiste’s 1978 album, Step II, this song is a club-themed single. Sylvester, who was known for his androgynous and flamboyant appearance, churned out several upbeat pop tunes of this nature. As an activist who campaigned against the stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS, he was also a star of rhythm and was dubbed the “Queen of Disco”.
10. Running – Shamir
“Done giving up my light, just to stay in the dark”
Shamir addresses mental health and gender dysphoria via the prism of an unhealthy toxic friendship in this song, deploying a 90s pop style sound for the production dynamics.
So, there you have it, ten sonically nuanced tracks for queer people to absolutely lose themselves this month of July. We definitely recommend queer Nigerians to immerse themselves in these songs and for allies to share them with their queer loved ones and friends.