“Would there ever be a place for black gay/queer/SGL in hip hop?”, a question I asked myself in my youth. I didn’t identify with Eminem and most black rappers made it very clear that I wasn’t welcomed in hip hop. Little did I know, I would end up being the answer to my own question. Before me, Lil Nas X, Cakes Da Killa, Fly Young Red, etc, there was Jason Herndon, formerly known as Caushun. The first noted openly gay rapper, who just so happened to be a healthy mix of trade and butch queen. He was gorgeous, said what he felt and major publications like the New York Times were eating it up.
The first noted openly gay rapper, Caushun was the perfect mix of trade and butch queen. He was gorgeous, said what he felt and major publications like the New York Times were eating it up.
Introduced to the world through feisty call-ins to Hot 97 FM in the early 2000s, he decided to take it further and venture into hip hop. What started out as a joke quickly snowballed into pure marketing genius. Knowledge of Caushun’s existence spread like wildfire through the music industry and soon after, major publications sought him out for a piece of his story.
This eventually led to him being signed to Kimora Lee Simmons’ Baby Phat Records in 2000, a label also started to launch her career in music as well. Caushun was also Kimora’s hair stylist at the time. In 2007, Ivan Matias, Caushun’s former manager, broke the story that he, in fact, was the brainchild behind Caushun. He was the driver (the voice and the lyrics), while Herndon was the vehicle.
I recently profiled Caushan on my personal Instagram page and Ivan Matias himself commented about Caushun’s impact –
“At a time when the LGBTQ community vilified rap music & hip-hop culture, the Caushun project built a bridge that connected both worlds in a way that forever changed that relationship. Clearing a path for artists like Frank Ocean, Lil Nas X & flamboyant cis artists like Young Thug and Tyler The Creator. The overwhelming global support of an openly gay rapper proved there was a market for hip-hop artists that defiantly challenged the hypermasculine rap culture until Caushun.”
Matias went on to pen monster hits for En Vogue, Angie Stone, SWV and Blu Cantrell. Many black gay/queer/SGL hip-hop artists were birthed from the Caushun project like DeepDickCollective, Deadlee, Kaoz, God-Dess, Cazwell and many more after Caushun hit the scene in the mid-2000s. We’re no longer just the sassy sidekick or stylist. We got bars too.
Although a “Caushun” album never materialized, his presence, however, manufactured, interrupted the narrative that gay rappers do not and could never exist. In 2022, LGBTQ people in Hip-Hop are the tastemakers. And as for Caushun? The story may not be over as a tell-all-book could soon see the light of day.
Written by The IZM.
Newark native The IZM., born Anthony Peterson, is a multi-genre artist who thrives off of the boundless inspiration from the golden age of music. In 2015, the track “I Don’t Feel God”, from his inaugural album King For A Day, was featured in Spike Lee’s Kickstarter film Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. In 2019 he released Black Boy Wonderment, a tribute to the era that made Newark a hub for house music in the late 1980s/early 1990s. In 2020, the video for ” Broken Like” scored multiple accolades from independent film festivals. In 2021, he continued the house music ride with the 2020 lockdown creation In Da House.