11 Trailblazing LGBTQ+ Rappers You Should Be Streaming Right Now

For decades, hip-hop has been known for having very little LGBTQ+ representation while elevating homophobic artists like DaBaby. But in recent years, LGBTQ+ rappers have been slowly, but surely, changing hip-hop through their music and activism. The success of artists like Lil Nas X comes after years of many LGBTQ+ rappers struggling to be taken as serious equals next to their cis and straight counterparts. To celebrate the contributions of these trailblazers, we're taking a look at a couple of LGBTQ+ rappers — past and present — who have changed the genre and are actively trying to make it more inclusive.

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Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X first broke down doors in the music industry when his debut single, "Old Town Road," set a new record for most weeks spent atop the Billboard Hot 100 and earned him two Grammy Awards and a historic CMA Award. But his music isn't just for his LGBTQ+ fans — he also makes it for himself. In his single "Sun Goes Down," Lil Nas X grapples with the depression he felt when he was younger because of his sexuality. Meanwhile, "Industry Baby," his new collab with Jack Harlow, was dedicated to the Lil Nas X who doubted himself after the success of "Old Town Road."

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Queen Latifah

Ever since she first burst onto the hip-hop scene three decades ago, Queen Latifah has done just about everything in entertainment. She's been a rapper, an actor, a producer, a talk-show host, and, more recently, the star of the CBS drama The Equalizer. While she's preferred to keep her private life out of the spotlight for most of her career, Latifah recently celebrated Pride on stage at the BET Awards by lovingly thanking long-term partner Eboni Nichols and their son, Rebel.

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Chika has known from the beginning of her career that she might be too much for some people. The self-proclaimed "big and Black, gay and vocal" star was nominated for best new artist at the 2021 Grammy Awards and has no intentions of minimizing who she is for anybody.

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Da Brat

Da Brat has been a hip-hop icon for over 25 years. In 2020, she revealed she was in a relationship with social media mogul Jesseca Dupart after keeping her love life private for several years. "I was like, 'Oh s—! I just came out after 20-something years!'" she recalled in an interview with Variety in 2020. "But it feels good to share with the world when you're happy."

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Kevin Abstract

Kevin Abstract rose to fame as a part of the hip-hop group Brockhampton, but he's made a name for himself as a versatile solo artist. After he came out as gay in 2016, he stated in Brockhampton's "Junky" that he would continue to rap about being gay because there aren't enough gay rappers in the industry that are willing to talk about their own experiences.

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Mykki Blanco

Mykki Blanco first started releasing music in the early 2010s and gained mainstream recognition for her ad libs on Teyana Taylor's track "WTP." She disclosed her HIV-positive status in 2015 and has been vocal about fighting the stigma that comes with the diagnosis since then. "F--- stigma and hiding in the dark, this is my real life," she wrote in a Facebook post that same year. "I'm healthy I've toured the world 3 times but [I've] been living in the dark, [it's] time to actually be as punk as I say I am." Today, she identifies as transgender. She started hormone-replacement therapy in 2019.

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Big Freedia

Much like Mykki Blanco, Big Freedia was introduced to mainstream audiences for ad libs on popular tracks like Beyoncé's "Formation" and Drake's "Nice For What." She's well known in the New Orleans bounce music scene and even got to perform with Queen Bey herself during The Formation World Tour. In 2021, she recorded a song in support of activist Gary Chambers's campaign for a Louisiana congressional seat.

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Young M.A

Young M.A has been vocal about her sexuality since she burst onto the scene with her breakout hit "Ooouuu" in 2016. She's spoken honestly about feeling out of place when hiding her sexuality, but uses her music as her way of expressing it artistically. "I was scared to express [my sexuality] to people who are close to me," she said in an interview with The Guardian. "That was me not accepting it yet, even though I knew deep down in my heart that I liked women. . . . Music is my expression. Music is my release. Music is my therapy. This is where I'm going to speak about my sexuality. I've held it in for so long, now I can express it."

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Cakes Da Killa

Cakes Da Killa has been rapping for nearly a decade, but he was introduced to many listeners for the first time in 2019 on Netflix's rap competition show Rhythm + Flow. Many of his songs incorporate beats that are fit for a vogue battle, showing off just how deftly the openly gay rapper can ride any beat.

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Saucy Santana

Saucy Santana is an up-and-coming rapper who rose to prominence alongside his friends City Girls. He became a recurring guest on Love & Hip Hop: Miami, and he's found success with viral hits like "Walk" and "Here We Go." Santana even earned a shout-out from Nicki Minaj, who said during a Clubhouse chat in 2021 that she should've rapped a guest verse on one of his songs.

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You might recognize Aja from RuPaul's Drag Race, but in the years since then, Aja has made a name for themself as a rapper. They've been open about their genderqueer identity and opened many Drag Race fans' minds to the role gender expression plays in one's identity. In 2021, Aja released their sophomore album, Crown, which touches on their own spiritual journey and the religious practice of Santería.