King of Queens
QBoy Reclaims His Throne
By Jamie Booth
QBoy was one of the OG queer rappers who helped to lead, create and shape the sub-genre of hip hop known as homo hop in it’s infancy.
When he first premiered in the late nineties, everyone reacted to QBoy as an oxymoron. International news outlets from The Guardian, to VICE, Dazed & Confused and i:D all wondered the same thing: How can there be a gay rapper? QBoy showed them how with two hit videos: “Q.B.O.Y. (Is Just So Fly)” and the top ten MTV smash, “Coming Out 2 Play”.
But then he disappeared… until now.
We spoke with QBoy from his London home.
What do you think of the term homo hop?
QBoy: The term really started in the nineties, against the backdrop of homophobic gangster rap. At the time, we needed to show that hip-hop had a queer face too. That there were actually some queers who loved and were creating hip-hop. There was a time when gays were very anti-hip hop and hip-hop was anti-gay and homo hop bridged that.
Does the queer hip hop community support one another?
QBoy: The early generation did. Those early days were exciting. We were all together doing something new and trail blazing and we were doing it because we loved it. We never really thought it would take off. Gay people didn’t understand why we loved hip-hop and hip-hop hated us. So we were unified.
Is it the same today?
QBoy: Queer artists coming out today have so much more competition. I’m not sure they share that same camaraderie that we experienced when I first started.
Are you friendly with the gay rapper, Cazwell?
QBoy: I’ve known Cazwell for fifteen years. Before Cazwell was a solo artist, he was in a dope band called Morplay with another rapper, Crasta Yo. I remember reviewing their single ‘Watch My Mouth’ for gayhiphop.com and being truly inspired. Cazwell has my respect for what he has achieved.
What advice would you give him?
QBoy: I wouldn’t dream of giving Cazwell advice. We met up in LA recently and he was looking to make some new music so I suggested a few ideas but advice – what do I know? I am just trying my best like everyone else. He knows what he is doing. He’s a smart, hard working cookie.
What do queer rappers need to do to get on mainstream radio?
QBoy: Mainstream means you are creating a product that everyone wants to buy, and usually that makes it quite beige. Most queer artists are honest in their music and by doing so, they’re making art that is often striking and unique and not beige, boring or conformist at all.
Which of your songs on QING has the most mainstream potential?
QBoy: (Laughing) You’re very obsessed with mainstream! In today’s Internet world, we no longer need to be mainstream to succeed or reach our audience. But if you want to know the songs that are least gay in the lyric content and subject matter, they would be “Music Makes Us Dance” and “Set It Up”. “Set it Up” is about relationships I have had with men but lyrically it’s not sexuality specific.
Is there one track that’s just for the boys?
QBoy: Both “Show Me Your Deck” and “DragOn” has more queer themed content. “DragOn” is a weed smoker’s anthem where I literally talk about stoned sex with hot boys. One of favorite things – not discounting donuts. “Show Me Your Deck” is very much focused on my own experiences on gay hook-up apps.
Which track on the EP tells us the most about QBoy?
QBoy: Everything I do must come from a seed of truth or I just cannot connect with it, so really, all of the songs are true portrayals of my personality. After watching all five videos you might think that I am a Game of Thrones and tracksuit loving, cock-obsessed, socially concerned, cheeky, humorous, spiritual stoner who has experienced some pretty shitty break-ups. And I’d say that is not far off the mark.
For more information on QBoy and his new EP, QING, visit QBOYMUSIC.COM.