It seems like 2017 has been the year many queer artists have found their voice, and audiences, through their art. Nakhane Toure’s performance in The Wound has drawn plenty of praise and criticism, but the film itself has been accepted as an entry to the Oscars all the same. Toya DeLazy is now a Powerpuff Girl, modern queer icons FAKA released their Amaqhawe EP to plenty of online fanfare. Former drag king Dope St Jude has been getting radio airplay and bookings off her 2016 release Reimagine. K-$ has become a sensation in Cape Town, with consistently hyped DJ performances and recently making the cover of The Lake.
It’s pretty cool that I could actually go on for a while, but this piece is actually about a particular queer artist who you should take note of, Gyre. Gyre put out an album about a month ago called ‘Queernomics‘ that gives you a hell of a perspective on being a young, gay, black man in South Africa.
From the outset Gyre goes in hard on white gays/white gaze, racism, religion, social conditioning, and the myriad of forces against a young, gay, black man in this country. He lays down the paths before him and the consequences of his choices. Gyre then lets out a triumphant self-affirming cry of “I am human! I am queer! I am sex! I am love! I am black! Respect that!” All before track 2 starts.
The album quickly changes tempo to the wavey synth laced Eyes on You, then kicks into the trap influenced Slay n’ Sleep, only to be followed by the more more industrial sounding Inkunzimalanga. Queernomics does a fantastic job of offering a diverse array of beats, flows, bars and topics throughout the 13 tracks. While Gyre plays the role of braggadocious rapper well, he also openly and poetically displays his wounds for the audience. Queernomics is rife with fun wordplay, raw emotion and unbridled self-expression that’s rare in most modern rap releases.
If enough people hear Queernomics, I think it’s only a matter of time before Gyre’s name is mentioned not only alongside other notable queer artists, but up against the best rappers in the country too. He’s not there yet, but Queernomics shows that Gyre’s bag of tricks is filling up quickly.