Fabolous is among the best rappers to ever grace the microphone.

Criticism has undoubtedly trailed the rapper over the years. His quality has fluctuated at times, and his sound can be seen as dated. But when Fab has set all the B.S. aside and just rapped, he's shown himself to be one of the best rappers alive time and time again. In honor of his 43rd birthday, here are six tracks that demonstrate the timelessness of Fabolous.

Keep Reading Show less

Happy #LesbianVisibilityDay: 10 Queer Musicians Who Are Changing the Industry

They make up just a fraction of the many lesbian and queer musicians who are revolutionizing the industry, but you should definitely know each one of the artists on this list.

Friday was Lesbian Visibility Day, but lesbians deserve representation every day of the year—after all, they're not only around on April 26.

Here are 10 incredible queer musicians to know, each of whom has contributed to music and culture in hugely significant and inspiring ways.

1. Hayley Kiyoko

Hayley Kiyoko's exuberant pop has propelled her to the top of the charts and has made her a religious icon of sorts for queers everywhere. With her unabashedly gay lyrics and imagery, she's carving out space for a confident brand of sexuality that has long been relegated to ambiguous lyrics of even openly queer musicians.

Hayley Kiyoko - SLEEPOVER www.youtube.com

2. Hurray For the Riff Raff

Fronted by the Bronx-born Alynda Segarra, Hurray for the Riff Raff has created a blend of Americana so sophisticated that it merits dozens of listens, and each time it will inevitably offer up different bits of wisdom. Segarra, a former punk of Puerto Rican descent, has always traversed political and personal themes and is one of the strongest voices in protest music today. Her music explores the complexity of the queer, mixed-race experience, delving into politics and mixing English and Spanish into pure poetry. Her music does justice to its complex themes, while also maintaining a sense of hope and idealism. With her album The Navigator, she took on a David Bowie-type alter ego with her own twist. "I learned I could create a character, the Navigator, who would stand at the intersection of all these identities and weave in and out," she told The Times. "And I related to being the alien. I began to take that as a badge of honor."

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Pa'lante (Official Video) www.youtube.com

3. Janelle Monae

Sometimes it seems like there's nothing Janelle Monae can't do. She rose to the fore with her gender-bending, androgynous appearance, only to cast off even that label in exchange for truly fluid shifts from the silver screen to the largest festival stages. About a year ago, she told Rolling Stone that she identified with elements of bisexuality and pansexuality. "I want young girls, young boys, nonbinary, gay, straight, queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, dealing with feeling ostracized or bullied for just being their unique selves, to know that I see you," she said in an interview. "Be proud."

Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer [Emotion Picture] www.youtube.com

4. Julien Baker

Now practically legendary in the indie folk circuit, Julien Baker made waves by speaking openly about her experiences growing up queer and Christian in Tennessee. Since then, her ingenious methods of looping, drawing spare melodies out of her Telecaster, and spinning pain into reverent poetry have made her a prominent and critically acclaimed solo artist in her own right. Plus, boygenius, the trio comprised of Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers (both of whom also identify as queer), is one of the best supergroups of our modern era.

Julien Baker: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert www.youtube.com

boygenius @ Brooklyn Steel | Pitchfork Live www.youtube.com

5. King Princess

Producer-songwriter King Princess has never been shy about her identity as a lesbian—her first tour was called "Pussy is God," and she's referenced a variety of historical and contemporary queer themes in her music. Her best song, "1950," may be referring to the Lavender Scare, when homophobic paranoia reached a peak and many queers had to hide their identities in order to keep their jobs. Despite its heavy inspiration, "1950" is full of electric joy; though its political undertones are very intentional. "I want to get to a place where the story is less about me and my face and more about what the fuck's going on this world. How I can be an active voice for gay people but also the music industry," she said to Rolling Stone. "This is the art we need right now. This is what we need right now. We're in a renaissance, and we need people to rebel, come forth and bring messages into art."

King Princess - 1950 www.youtube.com

6. LP

LP's voice sounds like a mix of Bob Dylan's and Stevie Nicks'—which would be enough to merit a listen on its own—but she's also a masterful songwriter and artist, as well as an open lesbian. Having written hits for Christina Aguilera and the Backstreet Boys, she's now taking the music industry by storm with her infectious, sophisticated brand of folk-rock. Not only does she shred on the ukulele she also wears sunglasses at night and has mastered the art of suit-wearing, so if you're looking for someone to fall in love with, look no further.

LP - Girls Go Wild (Official Video) www.youtube.com


Formerly known as Angel Haze, ROES has just released one track— "Brooklyn"—and if their future releases are anything like that one, we're going to be hearing a lot more from them. The song is a dreamscape, evoking the likes of Frank Ocean as they layer their vocals and bars over brooding electric guitar. The rapper-singer openly identifies as pansexual and has said that they don't consider themselves any particular sex or identify with any particular pronouns, and they prefer to keep their music ambiguous so that everyone can relate to it. They've also been a staunch advocate for mental health. "If I can't say how I feel I go crazy," they told The Fader recently. "Every day I wake up and I'm like 'goddamn, you lived. You're alive again.'

Brooklyn www.youtube.com

8. Tash Sultana

The virtuosic polymath gained fame after their YouTube videos took off, and they've been touring steadily ever since. With their blend of guitar, effortless vocals, and psychedelic grit, they should be on everyone's live show bucket list. Open about their experiences with drug abuse and queerness, they also identify as non-binary, use they/them pronouns, and have often spoken about the ways music has helped them overcome challenges.

Tash Sultana - Can't Buy Happiness (Official Video Clip) 4K www.youtube.com

9. Tish Hyman

A formidable talent in the R&B and hip hop spheres, Hyman has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the business. Having cut her teeth on battle rap in the Bronx, she moved to Los Angeles, worked as Lil Wayne's tour manager, and started writing with the likes of Alicia Keys and Kanye West before going solo. Her vocals have drawn comparisons to Lauryn Hill, and her first release, "Subway Art," is a tribute to the twists and turns of life in the big city.

Tish Hyman - Subway Art (Official Video) www.youtube.com

10. Young M.A.

The Brooklyn-raised rapper has always been committed to being authentically herself—the M.A. in her name stands for "Me, Always"—and it seems to be paying off. She sold out her North American tour with 21 Savage, opened for Beyoncé, and her first album Herstory is a triumphant reclamation of her queer black feminist identity. She's always been openly proud of her sexual orientation, telling Vogue that once she came out, she felt she was able to move forward with her career. "I held in being sexually attracted to women for so long that once I got that out of me, the music became easy," she said.

Young M.A "Stubborn Ass" (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

Honorable Mentions: Let us give thanks to our queer foremothers—to Tegan and Sara, Tracy Chapman, and all the many others who paved the way.

Tracy Chapman - Fast car www.youtube.com

Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.

POP⚡DUST |

Welcome to Genderqueer TV: 5 Non-Binary Characters

To J. K. Rowling and "Supernatural": Queer-Baiting Isn't Creative License

Emerging Rappers Who Also Happen to Be Queer

Ariana Grande's "The Way" is already doing very well, so who better to push its success over the edge than 35-year-old rapper (and former gum-toter) Fabolous!

"If men are dogs/Then I guess I be the type to stay," raps Fabolous in his opening verse (Grande allotted him two). Given the fact that Ariana is but 20, we're glad he erred on the side of not discussing what he does with his "Cali hoes." In his second verse, Loso takes a crack at singing the song's hook, adding, "My thirsty ex get no refill." Music to every gal's ears.

While we prefer Ariana's chemistry with Mac Miller in the original version of "The Way," we're glad Fabolous hollered back at the young'n.

Ariana Grande - The Way ft. Mac Miller www.youtube.com

Because it had to be done, and because Dev's got a very particular sort of stylized video, we did a one-to-one comparison of "Kiss My Lips" with "In the Dark." As some of you might recall, that video had two major talking points: trend awareness and hands. The trendiness isn't so pronounced with this one (although, come to think of it, mouth closeups got prominent billing recently as viral videos go), but it does do for lips what the former did for hands. Like so:

"In the Dark": ridiculous amounts of hands.

"Kiss My Lips": ridiculous amounts of lips.

"In the Dark": just Dev, plus hands.

"Kiss My Lips": Dev and Fabolous, plus lips.

"In the Dark": hands arranged in fields like nail sculptures.

"Kiss My Lips": lips on the background like confetti and decked out in watermelon and glitter designs like canvases.

"In the Dark": hands doing suggestive things.

"Kiss My Lips": lips doing suggestive things.

"In the Dark": lots of clubby blurriness. (And hands.)

"Kiss My Lips": lots of clubby blurriness. (And lips.)

You may have heard about the Floyd Mayweather - Victor Ortiz boxing match that took place this weekend, a surreal bout that involved a headbutt, a taunting kiss, and ultimately, a K.O. sucker-punch of arguable morality. Well, it wasn't the only welterweight bout happening in Vegas that weekend—rapper Fabolous and R&B singer Ray J also apparently got a little rock 'em sock 'em in of their own. The incident was prompted by some tweeting that 'Loso did about Ray J's appearance playing piano for Mayweather on the 24/7 special on HBO that preceded the fight ("Floyd saying we havin a concert in my living room & the camera cuts to Ray J singing "One Wish" on the piano had me in tears!!"), which apparently Mr. J appreciated not.

Next thing you know, the two are meeting up at the fight after party at the Palms Hotel in Vegas. “When I seen [Fabolous] I was with Floyd and 50 [Cent] and [Fab] tried to say ‘Don’t touch me’ and I touched that nigga,” claimed William Ray in a phone interview with New York's Power 105.1 FM. "Don’t disrespect me and Floyd like that,” he explained. “I play piano in [his home] every day. That’s my big bro, we grew up together. So if you think I just came over there and played a song you got it motherfuckin twisted. I’m always over there.” Interesting that J seems to think it's less funny for him to be playing piano EVERY DAY for Floyd Mayweather, but perhaps there's something more honorable in that level of devoted servitude than if he was just some fly-by-night troubadour.

Ray says that Fabolous returned no punches in the altercation, but there are of course two sides to every story, and Fabbo has yet to weigh in on the drama. (For the record, both "#thingstougherthanRayJ" and "#peopletougherthanRayJ" are currently trending on Twitter, suggesting that the public may or may not believe William Ray's general account of events.) In any event, Mayweather has offered Ortiz a rematch, so perhaps J and Fab can reassemble on the sequel's undercard, and do it proper with the glove-touching and rumble-preparing and whatnot. The pop duo probably wouldn't quite command the $25 mil that Mayweather did, but we guarantee someone would televise the shit out of it.


Tough work being DJ Khaled, having to show up for music video shoots where you just stand around and do nothing while your famous friends do all the heavy lifting. Fabolous, Jadakiss and Mary J. Blige give Khaled a hand on "It Ain't Over Til It's Over," the third single and latest video from the DJ's upcoming copula-hating album We the Best Forever. The song samples the oft-borrowed beat from Schooly D's old-school classic "P.S.K. (What Does it Mean?)," benefactor of such '90s hits as Case's "Touch Me, Tease Me" and Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Kiss Them For Me," as the trio rap about perseverance in some kind of abandoned, sun-soaked warehouse. (Watch out for that wall of mirrors, though, guys–seven years of unpaid guest spots if you break one of those.)

Khaled approves, and so do we. Would it kill him to sing a hook or something every now and then, though? Save yourself some time and money, guy.