The Abstract Quest for Visibility

Amina Feratovic, Reporter

In a time where many artists are struggling to shine light on intersectional queer visibility, Kevin Abstract (a.k.a. Ian Simpson) of BROCKHAMPTON uses his music to express the struggle of being a person of color and part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Abstract is one of the many artists of modern day hip-hop who has opened the sound waves for discussion of what it means to be black and gay. 

Since the release of his sophomore album in 2016 “American Boyfriend,” Abstract paints the image of what it feels like to be a gay black man in suburban America through strong lyricism and beats. The track “MISERABLE AMERICA” talks about how his mother is homophobic, his best friend is racist and how he is essentially stuck in the closet about his true identity, something many people can relate to even in 2020.

In addition, the song, “Empty” shows the longing to be with someone. The simple piano chords mixed with lyrics such as “I think about you all the time / I waited for you all my life” make it a relatable song for any person, conveying a tone of melancholic and forbidden teenage love. Abstract’s album highlights realness and dives straight into bringing awareness, which sets him apart from many in the industry.

Abstract’s discography does not end there. In his time with BROCKHAMPTON, he has become the forefront of the group and has released many other songs about various topics such as drug addiction, family matters and his life.

The song “JUNKY” off the “Saturation II” album contains a verse where he acknowledges people asking, “Why you always rap about bein’ gay?” to which he responds that not enough people do, especially in a genre where historically the majority of listeners are straight men. This makes him stand out and shows that he will stand up against the taboo of talking about this topic.

By having artists such as Abstract expose what it means to be gay and a person of color in America while using a platform that has been filled with heteronormative and misogynistic lyrics in the past, it fuels the opportunity for discussion. In turn, these discussions can lead to solving the issues that many have faced in the past and continue to face today.