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Camilo Hannibal Smith

Camilo Hannibal Smith is a culture writer who got his start contributing stories about hip-hop culture to publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Source magazine and The Smoking Section hip-hop website. He’s currently a freelancer based in Houston who frequently writes about street art, music, film  and the Latinx cultural experience for Houston Press and the Houston Chronicle.  He’s originally from New Jersey, and a 2010 graduate of Columbia Journalism School.

"Trans rap in Texas"
Trans hip-hop is about coming out, sometimes multiple times through the swag and power of the spoken word. It pushed through an increasingly crowded field of SoundCloud enthusiasts, as well as the barrage of standard masculine fueled cisgender hip-hop that is at the top of the charts.

There are forbearers to this in recent years, from the California MC D’Lo, to the New York bred Quay Dash to Mykki Blanco, to the very popular New Orleans bounce of Big Freedia.

Two artists based in Texas; one in Dallas and another in Houston are going against the grain in their local hip-hop circles.

MC I Ckan Rime is a trans male using his lyrics, and sound to inform his family about the changes in his life. The music is ensconced in the Golden Age, spoken word hip-hop style of poetry with a blend of the southern twang that Houston rap is known for. This MC, who is of Latinx heritage has tied each of his life changes with his music, first coming out as gay, second coming out as trans and third going through a name change.

Don tha Doll is a Dallas trap rapper. The way he is celebrating his gender through hip-hop is through a more aggressive, violent style. It’s a tie-in to the typical formula: gun talk, trap/street tales.  It’s a good focus for the rapper, linking him with like-minded trans rappers in Los Angeles who combine gang tales with their stories. It also landed Don tha Doll a coveted share from World Star Hip-hop. He’s seen as both an outlier, but also of the moment.

This presentation would look at these two artists, their two different stylistic approaches to hip-hop, and how they are opening the door to more trans representation in Texas rap.