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Music for the Gworls, Gays and Theys

This music era, which is characterised by house, bounce and amapiano as heard on Drake and Bey’s albums, is for the black and queer communities. The noise makers must pipe down
Thu, Jun 23, 2022

The latest music industry conspiracy theory is that Beyoncé and Drake have been in cahoots to not only take over, but switch up the sound of the summer. On 17 June, Drake dropped his seventh studio album, leaving hip-hop heads in a funk… but honestly, never mind all that.

Trading in his signature flows on rap beats for ‘oontz oontz’ bops with borrowed sounds from genres that are predominantly house, bounce and our very own national treasure – amapiano – is a move we can liken to Ye’s transition from Graduation to 808s & Heartbreak. You may not be into it right away as a consumer but eventually, you’ll have to accept that this is the sound of the near future.

PHOTO: Drake - @champagnepapi Instagram

Three days later, in one of the most delicious rollouts we’ve seen in a while, Beyoncé dropped her single Break My Soul ahead of her upcoming seventh studio album Renaissance expected this July.

The song sent fans and listeners into comparison-mode as it set a very similar tone. The genre that historically lends itself to the celebration of Black and Queer culture is preparing us for what we can expect from the next era of commercial music.

While we can welcome it getting the mainstream recognition it deserves thanks to the two industry giants, we would be reckless to neglect the artists who have been married to the music over the years and kept their vows to the bounce sound.

PHOTO: Beyoncé - @BritishVogue Twitter

Originating in the late ‘80s, bounce was a blend of hip-hop music from New York that was fused with the traditional Mardi Gras sounds from New Orleans culture and block parties. It then became one of the city’s biggest exports with artists like Big Freedia as one of the notable faces of the genre who has coincidentally worked with both artists in recent years.

This is a move that our ears have long been marinated for and we finally made it to the family cookout. Big Freedia was previously featured on Bey’s Formation and Nice for What by Drake. But before that, Freedia can historically go down as one of the artists who made bounce palatable through, not only the music, but also her public persona and reality show, all while consistently being an advocate of the celebration of queer bodies and queer culture.

PHOTO: Big Freedia - @bigfreedia Instagram

Terribly problematic princess Azealia Banks also finds a seat at this table, and rightfully so. It would be unfair to open a discussion on genre-blending without acknowledging how, for years, she has seamlessly flowed on house beats in a way that few others have. Her rhymes are as fluent as her personality is frustrating because the minute you think you can root for her, she opens her mouth online or onstage and then it’s all downhill from there.

That said, there were moments where she was a hill worth dying on. Her 1991 EP plays in the background as I write this. Her ability to create a catalogue a decade ago that features songs diverse enough to stand next to the recent drops says something and everything.

With the effortlessly cool visuals to accompany the content, this is an artist who could’ve, would’ve and should’ve soared at a time as exciting as this, but didn’t. Speaking to my editor who echoes that Banks has gotten in her own way, I’m slightly annoyed because 10 years since the release of this project, I’d expect her to have the commercial success of her industry peers like Doja Cat. Even if that wasn’t the case, this definitely would’ve been her moment.

Alas, Beyoncé has come to the rescue by making music for the gworls, gays and theys during pride month and ahead of the summer time. The dance anthem that samples Show Me Love by Robin S and Explode by Big Freedia, arrives right on schedule, encouraging us all to release our stress.

So, get in losers, we’re taking it back to New Orleans.