It was love almost immediately when rapper MicahTron met her girlfriend, go-go dancer Zoe Bynum, at a gig two years ago. The 29-year-old MC's upbeat, sex-positive party rap has made her a favorite at local queer parties such as Swagger Like Us, and for years she's held it down as one of the region's few visible female MCs — and one of the only queer ones. Now, she and Bynum are teaming up for their own party, Joie De Vivre (or "The Joy of Living" in French) at OMG, a club in San Francisco's SoMa district. With MicahTron on the mic and Bynum dancing — and two female DJs, Andre and Ms. Jackson, behind the decks — the party celebrates a broad spectrum of queer femininity beyond the butch and femme binary, though the event aims to be inclusive to the entire LGBTQ community.
"[My girlfriend] has been go-go dancing in the queer scene for some years now, and then I've been performing for ten years. We kind of both have a following so we thought, why not do something ourselves?" said the rapper in a recent interview. "I had been previously throwing house parties where I would ... tattoo [people] and play new music, but my house is kind of limited on space. ... So we were like, 'Yeah, let's do it at a club, make it different, and see how it turns out.'"
MicahTron, who often sports sleek masculine looks and no makeup, said that she hopes to use the party to create a sense of unity among folks of various identities and gender expressions in the queer scene. She said that in her native San Francisco, gay men and lesbians tend to party separately (which can be problematic for trans and bisexual people). But the more integrated, diverse crowds at Oakland queer parties inspired her to create a similarly inclusive space across the bay.
If all goes as planned, she and Bynum plan on making the party a monthly event. That would add a much needed presence of queer women of color to the San Francisco nightlife scene. With the Lexington, the City's only lesbian bar, shuttering last year, there's certainly a market for women-centric queer spaces.
"We have such limited space here in the Bay Area as far as our queer parties," said MicahTron. "The parties we've had for years are being cut off, so now we're left with maybe four really good queer parties. We need more. If we lose a club, we need a new one. We lose a really good party, we need a new one."
Because partying is a key way young queer people build community and affirm their identities, it's not uncommon for musicians and entertainers in the queer nightlife scene to build large followings through playing live shows as opposed to putting out releases. This is certainly the case for MicahTron. She's scrapped two previous plans for putting out EPs: One she recorded as an intern at Wild 94.9 in her college days, the other while living in Berlin in 2014 and 2015. Berlin, with its large, thriving club scene, was where she cut her teeth as a recording artist and performer, opening for big-name queer acts such as the neo-soul band The Internet. She said she was shopping around for record deals while still in Berlin, but the elaborate roll-out plan she envisioned didn't pan out before she had to return to the states.
Since coming back from Berlin in the spring of last year, MicahTron has been prolific, putting out a consistent stream of twerk-worthy singles made for the club. Party rap and R&B bangers DJs typically play in mainstream clubs revolve around straight, male desire. But with uptempo tracks like "Squirt," MicahTron positions herself as a slick-talking lady killer — something rap listeners rarely see a woman do without shame. Similarly, on the bass-heavy slapper "YBCM" (or "Your Bitch Chose Me"), she smugly smirks about taking a dude's girl over a hypnotic beat. "WakeTheGawds" is a psychedelic trap track where she asserts her personal power with metaphysical metaphors and otherworldly pitch-shifted vocals.
Because hip-hop is so steeped in straight masculinity (and, oftentimes, misogyny), a lot of queer and female rappers try to distance themselves from those associations by reinventing the wheel stylistically instead of going for popular production styles. Many queer MCs look towards house and vogue beats, which are closely linked to the LGBTQ nightlife scene, or production styles that are more genre-bending and avant-garde as opposed to popular (and largely male-dominated) styles such as trap or hyphy. While it's powerful for queer MCs to create their own lanes, MicahTron's approach has been geared more towards carving out space for queer and female voices amid existing popular styles. She stands out for her lyrical skills and upfront subject matter, but her choices in beats align her work with mainstream taste.
"One of my big, big main influences was always Missy Elliott. She changed my life. When she came out, I was super like 'Wow, I can fuckin' do this,'" she said. "I'm a masculine woman and I've always been told that because of my image I'm not gonna fit into a mainstream margin or I'm not gonna look a certain way to the mainstream audience because of my identity. And when I saw Missy Elliott skyrocketing every fuckin' year, I was like, 'Why would I need to change?'"