Lucas Charlie Rose is the “black trans [and] living” artist we should be listening to right now.
Lucas Charlie Rose’s GENDERF*CKBOI embraces–and at the same time subverts–the complex relationship hip-hop has with pop culture as being both the most dominant musical force going and being a voice from the underground. The beats (produced by Rose himself!) are often chilled out, future-facing trap-soul that is reminiscent of the OVO sound that’s dominating the club and has snuck its way onto pop radio. It’s worth noting that even though you can draw these sonic comparisons between Rose’s work and OVO, he’s a one-man crew without a team of producers behind him, and while he fares better than most independent artists at coming up with his ultra-slick sound it still has a DIY-quality to it. This rawness combined with the funky bassline in “About It” lends the track an early Kaytranada vibe, making it one of my favourite pieces on the record. Similarly, when the songs lean towards a bouncy afrotrap it is refreshing from the more traditional trap orchestration.
The thing that most hooks me to this record is Rose’s voice; not only in the literal sense because of its unique tonal characteristics, but figuratively as well through his lyrics. Rose does not shy away from difficult topics. On “Trippin’” he addresses the internalized homophobia and explicit transphobia he is often faced with from others: “They niggas they be trippin’, they too proud to say/ Rather call me a woman than admit that they’re gay”. On “Johnnie Cochran” he admits he knows “[t]he only place where they want me is swinging on a rope” while invoking the famous lawyer’s name on the hook as an example of excellence. It might surprise those who only know Cochran from the O.J. trial to learn about his tireless work in police brutality cases. “Pas De Tempe a Perdre” wastes no time switching freely between English and French while Rose lets us know he will love whatever is between the legs of “this girl” because she is “a goddess”. More so than many other artists flirting with the trap-soul sound, Rose provides us with clear and loud statements that show the power hip-hop has in transmitting personal and captivating messages.
Yes, sometimes GENDERF*CKBOI doesn’t sparkle as cleanly as the popular music that it draws influence from. Instead, GENDERF*CKBOI captivates the listener and provides a clear portrait of Lucas Charlie Rose, the “black trans [and] living” artist we should be listening to right now.