The rap music scene is still dominated by men who identify as male, with just over 20% of rappers statistically women, most of whom use she/her pronouns.
Yet gender identity is rapidly diversifying in the genre, with an increasing number of rappers identifying as non-binary or genderfluid.
The non-binary rappers featured in this article can be credited with subverting stereotypes and challenging expectations traditionally placed on artists in the hip-hop scene.
Here are ten non-binary rappers who are breaking the mould.
Lil Uzi Vert
American rapper Lil Uzi Vert Born was raised in Philadelphia and gained worldwide recognition following the release of their commercial mixtape Luv Is Rage in 2015.
For some time, curiosity amongst fan bases began to rise and it was presumed that Uzi would continue to refrain from revealing themselves as non-binary. Yet in July 2022, the rapper finally addressed increasing rumours by using social media platforms and confirmed their gender.
Uzi quietly updated their Instagram bio to include the pronouns they/them, which appeared to suggest the rapper identified as non-binary. Of course, this Instagram bio change didn’t stay quiet for long, as fans spread screenshots over Twitter.
The son of Hollywood A-lister Will Smith and actor Jada Pinkett, Jaden Smith is both an established film actor and rapper, appearing in such films as The Pursuit Of Happiness (2006), The Karate Kid (2010) and After Earth (2013).
Smith loosely labels himself as gender fluid whilst still seemingly using masculine pronouns.
“I’m not gonna be categorised as a human,” Smith explained in one interview. “Oh, humans are supposed to do this or act like this, or people are supposed to act like this, or people are supposed to be this. I’m my own thing.”
Jean Grae, formerly known as What? What?, is something of a cult figure in the world of hip-hop, with a career that started in the early 00s.
In a 2020 Twitter post, from a now-deleted Twitter account, she stated, “Non binary being the closest thing I can choose that fits. I’d rather choose nothing at all. I’m just me. Being.”
She also clarified that she is happy to use she/her pronouns, stating, “Non binary doesn’t mean I automatically use “they/them.” She joked, “Feel free to use: Jean/She/Her/That Motherfucker/The One, The Only. Also ‘The Monarchy'”
Janelle Monae’s music career began back in 2003 with the release of a demo album The Audition. The American rapper and actress has claimed many accolades so far including eight Grammy Award nominations and a Screen Actors Guild Award win.
In April 2022, Monae talked about coming out and in the Los Angeles Times explained she identifies in a gender fluid way with a certain flexibility over how people should label her.
“My pronouns are free-ass motherf*— and they/them, her/she,” the performer said in an interview.
Ashnikko gained notoriety with the release of 2019 single ‘Stupid’ featuring (Yung) Baby Tate. The track achieved viral popularity on video-sharing platform TikTok and eventually certified platinum in both the United States and Canada.
In May 2022, the rapper took to Twitter and posted a casual sounding statement that would explain attitudes towards labelling.
“And to clarify I am pansexual and genderfluid I just didn’t feel ready to tell the internet yet.” Ashnikko tweeted. “But I guess now’s a good time since everyone’s doing a dissection into my sexuality and gender identity.”
Californian Kehlani achieved initial fame as a member of the teen group Poplyfe within the America’s Got Talent process before venturing into solo projects from 2011. The 22-year-old is famous for such hits as ‘Gangsta’, ‘Distraction’ and ‘Good Life.’
In an interview with Byrdie, Kehlani confirmed that they prefer to use they/them pronouns, saying, “I don’t mind when people say ‘she’ at all, but something feels really affirming when people say ‘they.’ It feels like… you really see me.”
Angel Haze began their musical journey in 2012, releasing the mixtape Reservation and later signing a record deal with Universal Republic Records. A year later their debut album Dirty Gold, featuring the singles ‘Echelon (It’s My Way)’ and ‘Battle Cry,’ soon solidified their rise to fame.
Haze recently told Buzzfeed they identify as neither male nor female and confirmed “I feel like my agenderness and my gender identity have evolved.”
Las Vegas born Shamir released his debut EP Northtown in 2014 and the single ‘On the Regular’ both to critical acclaim. Since then he has produced seven independent studio albums and become a real success in the genre.
Shamir used twitter to explain his non-binary stance back in 2015 and passionately suggests he refuses to be labelled.
“Also to those who keep asking,” he tweeted, “I have no gender, no sexuality, and no fucks to give.”
Quay Dash is a transgender American rapper, singer and songwriter who is most known for her album Transphobic which was released in 2016.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, the rapper spoke about a hesitance to be labelled as a gay artist but also insisted on the idea of fluidity in identification.
“I never look at LGBT when I do music. I don’t stick in that box.” Dash revealed. “I’m not putting myself in a box either.”
Sudanese-American singer and actor Dua Saleh released their debut EP Nūr in early 2019 on the Against Giants record label. The work received respectable critical acclaim with the follow-up Rosetta arriving the following year.
Dua Saleh seems keen to be labelled in a variety of different ways rather than being pigeonholed into a single non-binary identity – whilst celebrating the role of sexuality in their art.
“I wouldn’t be as creative if I wasn’t non-binary, trans and queer,” Saleh told Gay Times in 2021.
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- 11 Young Female Rappers You Need To Know
- 20 Transgender Musicians You Need To Know
- 20 Non-Binary Singers & Musicians You Should Know
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