Kaytranada Talks Familiarizing Himself With Gay Culture After Coming Out: 'I Had To Learn A Lot'
The producer notes how gay artists are revolutionizing hip-hop music.
After a strong debut with 2016’s hit album 99.9%, Haitian Canadian DJ and producer Kaytranada is growing into his own as an artist and finding kinship in his journey as an openly gay man in the hip-hop industry.In an interview with GQ following his successful sophomore album Bubba, Kaytranada sheds light on his experiences in hip-hop since coming out four years ago.
Despite the rampant presence of homophobia in today’s hip-hop music, the producer said it’s been inspiring to see artists like Lil Nas X and Brockhampton find their own lanes and change attitudes about gay culture.
“It's inspiring, but it's also amazing to see. I just saw Nas with Lil Nas X onstage at the Grammys. I don't know about the music, but I thought it was amazing to watch,” he said. “Like, a rapper who has probably said homophobic stuff, but just seeing them balancing each other and singing their song? I thought it was amazing. It's inspiring.”
The 27-year-old added artists are now opening the conversation on what it means to be gay in the industry:
“Seeing Brockhampton as well, it's really crazy. Like, very dope. Also, it's not the cliche. That's what I dealt with coming up. I was like, Yeah, I'm gay. But am I really gay? ‘Cause I don't have the culture down. I'm not like, 'Yes, queen!' and stuff like that. So that was really hard to deal with.”
Founding Brockhampton member Kevin Abstract also spoke about what it's like being a gay rapper in the hip-hop community in an interview in 2018. Abstract said he doesn’t want to be labeled as such but understands owning his sexuality in hip-hop is a revolutionary act.
"I don't want to be labeled as 'queer rapper,' I just want to be a rapper," Abstract said. “I have to exist in a homophobic space in order to make change and that homophobic space would be the hip-hop community. So me just existing and being myself is making change and making things easier for other young queer kids.”
Kaytranada also talked about how he had to learn gay culture and how to navigate it without having many allies earlier in his career:
"The culture around it took me a while to understand. When I came out, I didn't really have gay friends and stuff. I had to learn a lot."
He said having a white boyfriend also came with its challenges.
“There was this pressure. Especially not knowing the history. I had to learn a lot about gay history and, you know, [gayness within] the black community — especially with me having a white boyfriend. There's a lot of crazy things that comes with it," the "Glowed Up" artist added. "I had to get away from social media, get away from a lot of things, the internet."
As he was still learning about gay culture, he said some fans were vocal about his dating decisions.
"People were talking shit about all the time. A lot of gay men were not happy, calling me 'white man slave' and stuff like that," he added. "And I'm like, 'Damn, ok!' That's what it is, man. I had to learn a lot."
Kaytranada also revealed he’s an avid Mobb Deep fan and continues to listen to rap music in spite of the homophobia which tends to pervade it.