New Hip-Hop Music Video Challenges Gender Binaries
And a queer person of colour has the only starring role!
Gender saturates our world. Even when a gender is not explicitly referenced in a work, chances are that readers, listeners and viewers will perceive a default gender depending on the significations and associations provided to them.
A song about being confident for your lover? We usually assume it must be from the perspective of a woman.
An art piece that uses a lot of structural metal shapes? A man must have done it!
Even though we are as a culture working towards overcoming these gendered, stereotypical preconceptions, they still permeate the way we read the world.
As such, sometimes the most radical thing an artist can do is to remove gender pronouns, or their aesthetic equivalent – they can leave a space open for nonbinary representation, and for questioning about traditional gender tropes.
This is what alternative hip-hop duo Bonelang, comprised of artists Samy.Language and Matt Bones, have done with the music video for their new single, “Michelada.” .
"The best music videos offer more to dissect than provocative visuals. Such is the case with "Michelada," the latest video from Chicago-based hip-hop duo Bonelang's debut album Venn Diagrams. Starring interdisciplinary artist DW McCraven, who also co-directed with Bonelang's Samy.Language, the short film deconstructs gender and identity in a fashion so revealing it's almost hidden.
It may take several viewings to perceive the layers of depth as the queer-identifying McCraven portrays dual roles within a literal Venn diagram of their overlapping selves. But presenting a challenge to lazy binary thinking is exactly what the song intends. "'Michelada' stems from the many masks of DW McCraven that were created as coping mechanisms to navigate the many identities and/or realities that the world imposes upon them," Samy.Language tells NPR Music. He and musical partner Matt Bones constructed a 25-ft. Venn diagram of sand, soil, stone, cacti, sunflowers and the skull of a bull "in the name of decoding the illusion of safe space for a queer person of color in America."
McCraven calls "Michelada" a "transformative work," in reference to both the video, which was two years in the making, and the creative collaboration behind it. "Not only does it express intersectionality centered on my present existence, it creates constructive social commentary because of the relationships that were built in the process. Two years of brown queer women collaborating with cisgender men is proof that we can positively coexist when we decide to appreciate, listen, and allow space for each other."
By exploring humanity's overlapping interests, "Michelada" moves us closer to a holistic center."
“Michelada” is from Venn Diagrams, Pt. I, the first installment in a series by the duo entitled The Year Of The Sunflower.
Venn Diagrams aims to celebrate and nurture self-awareness, encouraging one to adopt a more full-bodied disposition of compassion, empathy, and love. Mathematically speaking, Venn Diagrams illustrates relationships between overlapping groups. Personalized, Bonelang’s Venn Diagrams stands to say: “Let us focus more on what we have in common than what we do not."
For updates on Bonelang, visit: