Written By: Eva Reign
Throughout my life, I have always searched for reflections of self. In my immediate surroundings, I often felt alone and misunderstood, but through various forms of art and media, I began to find myself. Music quickly became one of my main outlets growing up. Even now, I am constantly scouring playlists and music blogs hoping to find my new favorite artist. While my music taste is fairly broad stretching from hip hop to pop-punk to R&B and sometimes even country music, I do find myself gravitating toward artists with similar experiences to my own.
As a kid, all I knew was gospel, smooth jazz, and quiet storm. Like a lot of Black kids growing up, that’s all my parents played on the radio. In middle school, my favorite musicians were Luther Vandross, Sade, Jonathan Butler, and Boney James. While I still love these artists, I’ve since come into my own and found artists who not only have more contemporary sounds but also resonate with me on a deeper level.
Below I’ve compiled a list of my favorite queer and trans artists from some of the best house and club artists of today to some of the fiercest underground rappers and everyone in between. I hope you enjoy these acts as much as I do.
Kehlani, “little story”
For years, I’ve been inspired by Kehlani’s love song-filled albums like You Should Be Here and SweetSexySavage, but their latest offering Blue Water Road takes things to a new level. On the album’s first lead single “little story,” she sings to a former lover, who happens to be a talented writer, asking her to “pick up the pen” and write Kehlani back into her back into their love story. As a writer and proud pansexual woman, this metaphor instantly stood out to me quickly making “little story” one of my favorite songs.
Merci D., “Weight (Remix)”
Boston-based femcee Merci D. has been building up her catalog over the last couple of years with releases like “617” and her first EP “Red Line.” Her rap style consists of heavy lyrical dexterity and club-inspired beats making her one of the most promising rising artists of the genre. Her remix of the 2020 single “Weight” displays her rising power and her claim to the throne with lines such as, “Banjee girl to the cover girl, Merci D. bouta run the world. Call me Dela in charge of the girls. Heavy p**** in with a dainty twirl. Next gen supermodel chick, name a b*tch as hot as this.” Do yourself a favor and check out her EP “Ooze.”
Ms. Boogie, “Fem Queen” (ft. Trannilish)”
An East New York native, fierce raptress, and innovator to hip hop, Ms. Boogie is someone everyone should know. Her music is all about being unapologetic, reclaiming your power, and knowing you’re that girl. “Fem Queen” is one of my personal favorites of Ms. Boogie’s because she calls out the cis men who only date trans women behind closed doors and skirts over the instrumental of Fivio Foreign’s “Big Drip” while she does it.
Kodie Shane, “FACETIME” (ft. Rick Ross)
I first learned about Kodie Shane when I heard her 2019 single “End Like That.” Instantly I was obsessed and had to hear more. Her singing and rap styles are unlike anything else I’ve heard, mainly for her unique voice, but it’s also pretty dope to hear a Black woman use trap-inspired beats to talk about her love for other women.
If you’re looking for your next anthem to blast whenever you’re about to step out on the town, the vivacious and bewitching Trannilish has you covered with “P.H.A.T.” This track exudes nothing but confidence and power over one of the most electrifying beats I’ve heard in years.
Michaela Jaé, “Something To Say”
Michaela Jaé has captured our hearts on FX’s hit series Pose season after season for her portrayal of house mother Blanca before taking home a Golden Globe for the same role. Now she’s stepping up to the mic and blessing us with a bop full of wonder and joy. Her first single “Something To Say” shows off all the chops this triple threat has to offer from her acting to her dancing and the magnetism of her exhilarating voice.
Syd, “Fast Car”
From hit solo singles like “All About Me” to classic, captivating tracks like “Girl” with her band The Internet, Syd is easily one of the most talented songwriters of our time. Her sapphic lyricism and sensual musicality form a poetic cataclysm to R&B and neo-soul. “Fast Car” only elevates these themes to new heights.
Mykki Blanco, “Free Ride”
I’ve followed Mykki Blanco’s career since my days as a budding queerling scrolling through Tumblr, and they’ve never missed a beat. With consistent club bangers like “Haze.Boogie.Life” to bumping bops like “Wish You Would,” Mykki has always delivered, and “Free Ride” is no exception. It’s a fusion of experimental trap beats and a cheerful gospel chorus that’s sure to put a smile on your face.
Honey Dijon, “Love is a State of Mind”
House music is the best music. It’s a blend of techno, gospel, and R&B, and Honey Dijon is a master of the genre. Anyone who knows the genre knows her name so much so that it’s rumored Beyoncé tapped Dijon for her forthcoming album Renaissance. Play “Love is a State of Mind” for clear skin and a full bank account.
Kaytranada, “The Worst in Me” featuring Tinashe
I’m sure you’ve noticed from this list that I love some club music, so naturally, I had to add the king himself, Kaytranada. His music always bangs, but this track with my fave Tinashe is something special. It’s a perfect house record full of hypnotic drums and sultry synths that always has me dancing around my apartment.
Follow Eva Reign on Instagram and Twitter to support all of her upcoming projects, including being the lead of Billy Porter’s highly anticipated directorial debut, ‘Anything’s Possible.’