Oakland, CA — Pride Month might be over with, but it is still important to continue listening to LGBTQ+ voices. One of the best ways to understand and empathize with a community is to listen to what the members of that group have to say. This summer, we at YR want to bring these unique voices directly to your Spotify playlists. We have decided that the five we listed in November of last year were simply not enough. So without further ado, here are five more LGBTQ+ artists to listen to.
When you think of music made by drag queens, images of loud, club-ready tracks come to mind. Wisconsin native and winner of "Rupaul's Drag Race All Stars (Season 2)", Trixie Mattel has taken the exact opposite route. His EPs “Two Birds” and “One Stone” consist of folk music tinged with country and blues. His new single “Yellow Cloud” takes a peppy musical direction, but retains the same self-awareness. Not only is he a songwriter and vocalist, but Trixie Mattel also plays three instruments, guitar, clarinet, and autoharp. While Trixie’s other drag work is solely comprised of sardonic comedy, his music discusses topics such as love, friendship and the complicated relationship that the drag persona Trixie Mattel has with her creator, creating the perfect balance of poetry and frankness.
Janelle Monae has been expertly fusing pop, rap, R&B, Afro-futurism storytelling for over a decade now. She is a singer-songwriter, actress, rapper, producer, and the owner of her own record label, Wondaland. Her 2018 venture, a visual album titled “Dirty Computer,” came out to rave reviews. Her concept albums often take place in futuristic yet restrictive worlds. The main characters valiantly fight to be themselves against their surroundings. Her music often explores identity, societal norms and dystopia, yet always maintains an overtone of love, joy and self-empowerment. When listening to her music, it is difficult to decide whether to dance with joy or cry, so I usually end up doing both at the same time.
Trans pop diva Kim Petras’s first hit was the song “I Don’t Want It At All,” an 80s-style summer jam about wanting a boyfriend to buy her copious amounts of nice things. Her most notable trait would have to be the carefree attitude of her music, as well as her stellar vocals. She was born in Cologne, Germany, and first rose to international prominence when she was featured on a German TV documentary as the youngest person ever to go through a medical transition in the country. Kim Petras relocated to LA at the age of 19 to pursue music, and over those years she has accumulated a large handful of singles she categorizes as “Era 1,” and a Halloween themed EP called “Turn Off The Light Vol 1.” Her latest album, “Clarity,” will maintain her bubblegum pop sound while incorporating some elements of R&B.
Angel Haze grew up in a religious community after their single mother was taken in by a preacher of the Apostolic Faith Church, an environment they described as cult-like. When they were 15, their mother left the church and the family moved from Detroit to New York City. They began to pursue rap and creative writing in their teens after being exposed to secular music for the first time and falling in love with it. Angel Haze dropped their first mixtape, “Reservation,” in 2012. Followed almost immediately by an EP called "Classick," which consists of their unique take on five songs from the likes of Lauryn Hill and Lupe Fiasco. The most notable track on "Classick," contains a sample of Eminem's “Cleanin’ Out My Closet,” a gut-wrenching documentation of when they were sexually assaulted as a child. Their sophomore effort featured complex flows supported by heavy atmospheric production, inspired by their Native American roots. Both witty and raw, Haze’s discography chronicles both the highs and lows of their journey, discussing religion, trauma, heartbreak, and renewal.
Laura Jane Grace
The frontperson of two punk rock bands, Against Me! and Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers, Laura Jane Grace transitioned relatively late in her career. She came out and began transitioning in 2012, after having been the frontman in Against Me! for over 10 years. Laura dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to pursue Against Me! which started as a solo project before she met her fellow band members. Their debut, "Reinventing Axel Rose" was released in 2002. Against Me! broke out in 2007 when they were signed to a subsidiary of Warner Music and released the album “New Wave.” Against Me!’s large discography is an ever-evolving blend of social commentary and emotional reflection all backed by loud but melodic punk-rock guitar. Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers is a side project that she started in order to break away from the precedence her long history with Against Me! has set.