Queer Indie Label FutureHood Is Here To Turn Hip-Hop On Its Ear
Mister Wallace is here to f**k it up. He’s released his first EP Faggot on the very first record label specifically for queer and transgender people of color, FutureHood, which he and partner Anthony Pabey created.
The Chicago-born, Brooklyn-based rapper isn’t interested in assimilating into mainstream culture or gaining acceptance from major record labels. “Instead of waiting to be found or discovered or had or accepted, we decided no, let’s really tell the story we want to tell and put it out ourselves,” he says in an interview with the Advocate. “FutureHood and Faggot [exists] to resist the [hetero]normativity and to redefine what’s normal,” he told the magazine. “It’s about redefining and creating a visual representation or a physical manifestation in the world that allows people to be like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s where I am.”
Pabey’s motivation for creating FutureHood came out of his time in Boystown, a neighborhood of predominately white upper-middle class gay men. “We saw for ourselves that there was this community out there that was ready for this kind of music. I really feel like the queer rappers are the purest form of what rap is and what hip-hop is.
“They didn’t give Sylvia Rivera the [mic] back in the day, and she screamed and let those motherfuckers have it,” he also adds in the interview. “That’s still us. We’re still here.”
FutureHood’s conception is especially pertinent in the wake of the Orlando shooting, in which 50 people, mostly Latinx and black, were killed in the queer nightclub, Pulse, on June 12. With the recent killings of black transgender women Deeniquia Dodds in Washington D.C., last month, and the murder of Skye Mockabee in Cleveland, two days ago, queer representation in the entertainment industry becomes increasingly relevant for queer millennials.
In 2014, Wallace wrote, “It Girl,” a record influenced by the current movement in the United States for racial justice. “It became clear to me that before I could realize any dream of being a successful artist, I was more likely to become world famous for being gunned down by a racist cop under the protection of the law. I started to imagine how my image would be used by the media to perpetuate this horrific narrative to younger people and it sent me over the edge,” Wallace commented in Fader. “‘It Girl’ became my anthem and it kept me alive at a time when lovers and employers felt my blackness and my queerness had gone too far from what’s acceptable to mainstream society. My hope is that this song, my truth, gives you LIFE and inspires you to appreciate the lives of those who look and feel like me.”
Kaycee Ortiz, a black transgender woman from Alabama, is on FutureHood’s growing roster. After Ortiz moved to Chicago, she initially worked as a health counselor and a supply systems manager in the air force. Due to the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, she was discharged early, and then moved to Atlanta to pursue a music career. “To have to live that lie everyday became so overbearing. It became such a burden to wake up every day and have to pretend to be something I wasn’t […] It was scary getting out, but I felt like I just wanted to be myself.”
Her debut mixtape, Beach Street, is dedicated to her grandmother who purchased her first home on Beach Street in Mobile, Alabama.
FutureHood’s artists aren’t here for respectability, cisnormativity, or white supremacy—and continue to use the arts for practices of queer liberation. The future of hip-hop is finally here?