Cover Photo by Mac Smiff
Queer music artists have been around for decades. In fact, legendary greats such as Little Richard and Ma Rainey pushed the envelope by expressing their queerness through songs, fashion, and interviews. They opened the door and paved the way for the new talents of this generation.
Today, I’ll highlight four LGBTQIA+ music artists that are currently penetrating Portland’s local music scene. Here at We Out Here Magazine, we appreciate and uplift all music artists regardless of their gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
Candid Ramblings is a witty MC originally from Lake City, Florida, and El Paso, Texas. Growing up, Candid was musically inspired by various genres such as rhythm & blues, soul music, 90s hip hop, alternative jazz, house music, gospel, and more.
After moving to Portland in 2017, Ramblings began to perform at live shows in Oregon. The positive feedback and reviews from crowds encouraged her to keep engaging and honing her craft as a music artist. In 2020, she released her debut music project titled Urban Decay. The 5-track project is filled with serene-dreamy beats (produced by goodbyecalev) and melodic lyrics from Candid.
When describing her style of music Ramblings says, “I make lyrical hip-hop music that helps me embody confidence, create mantras of personal wisdom, and express myself vulnerably. I tend to mix elements of old school and new school hip-hop.” Her smooth flow gently complements her punctual delivery with lyrics like, “I wanna break the cycle, tired of being lied to.”
Candid believes that there is no specific queer music scene currently in Portland, but there are plenty of other queer music artists in the city doing their thing. She states, “…We’re always present even if the space isn’t made for us specifically. I’m so grateful for spaces like the Black Artist Spring-Summer Showcase (bass.pdx). I’ve met a lot of amazingly talented queer people of color at their shows.”
In order to elevate the Queer music scene in Portland, Candid thinks promoters should assess if their venues are safe spaces for melanated-queer communities to prevent homophobic harm and racial biases. She strongly believes if promoters genuinely network with Queer-focused, youth-based, and culturally-specific organizations then they can bridge the gap to book more queer music artists of color at an equitable and inclusive rate (monetarily as well).
Karma Rivera is an undiscovered superstar originally from Chicago, Illinois. Her gravitating stage presence and slick lyrics let the audience know that she does not come to play.
Growing up, Karma’s musical inspirations were salsa, merengue, ghetto house, rap, and r&b. She describes her own style of music as chill and confident rap with a dash of fierceness.
We asked Rivera how the Portland music scene received her as an artist, “I’ve been doing this music thing for a minute now and I have built a local following that is anticipating my next drop. I am very grateful for that,” says Rivera.
When it comes to potent punchlines and versatility, Karma does not lack. With bars like, “I’m outside with the college drops/ I’m vaccinated with the shots,” (Got Me Hot) she makes her musical presence known.
Karma sees a promising future for Portland’s melanated queer music scene, she says, “I think we are entering an era where the Portland artists are now becoming the curators and promoters who are organizing their own events. I think we are going to see more house shows and curated events that may not be the traditional way of booking [and] promoting live shows.”
For Rivera’s next project, expect more house party bops that listeners can dance and vibe to.
MAARQUII is a baddie, and she is here to slay and stay worldwide. Originally from Southern Arkansas, MAARQUII grew up in Tillamook, Oregon so the PNW is home to her as well.
MAARQUII describes her style of music as very experimental and genre-blending. She is that girl on and off stage, but her stage presence is truly divine.
Her musical inspirations come from artists that create timeless music. She feels that current music and art, in general, are more concerned with “viral shock factors” instead of creating real art. “Only the real lasts,” she says.
MAARQUII’s goddess-like presence and ownership of self are empowering and refreshing to witness. With sultry lyrics like “He said he like it when I wear his favorite outfit/ Lipstick, high-heels, full outfit,” listeners will be hooked and hypnotized.
There is room for improvement in Portland’s local music scene. MAARQUII feels the scene is filled with cishet (cis heterosexual) white men and sees a vital need for more opportunities and spaces for queer music artists.
When asked how can Portland’s music scene be more inclusive when booking Black Queer music artists MAARQUII states, “Curators and promoters can pay artist more period. Especially Black trans folks. Make sure that guarantee you’re offering aligns with the ask. Black artists know your worth and don’t be afraid to negotiate and advocate for yourself with these promoters.”
MAARQUII is currently finishing up her sophomore album and is excited to share a new project that shows a new side of her.
To keep up with everything MAARQUII follow her on Instagram and check out her website.
C1oo. is an edgy and soulful r&b artist straight out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His r&b and soul roots hold inspiration from greats such as Marvin Gaye, The Isley Brothers, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Case, Xscape, Anita Baker, and many others.
His debut project Toxic Love (2021) explores pansexual love, heartbreak, and reminiscent vibes. C1oo pours his emotions out on tracks like “oVer it” singing, “Today when I’m witchu I just wanna relax/ Couldn’t do that sh*t witchu steady all on my ass.” His style of r&b music brings a raw feel to the PNW region.
C1oo. believes the queer music scene in Portland is very selective, “It seems like [if] you’re you not from here or ‘act’ like you’re from here [then] you don’t really fit in. Then there’s me, people always think I’m straight, which is always a fun conversation,” says C1oo. Ultimately, he does feel that the Portland music scene receives his music well and he is excited to share more of who he is as an artist.
C1oo.’s advice for Black queer music artists is to never stop creating and not be discouraged by the music politicking in the city, because there are options and opportunities for everyone.
To keep up with everything C1oo. follow him on Instagram.
Want to stay connected with Portland’s queer music scene? Tap in with @bass.pdx via Instagram, and check out other amazing queer music artists that are shaking things up in the city such as K. Sean, Roulette Delgatto, and Veana Baby.