Angola’s Transsexual Hip Hop Queen Transcends Boundaries

Titica, who says, "I've been stoned, I've been beaten," has emerged as a powerful musical force in the African nation, where homosexuality is illegal.

Posted: 04/16/2012 03:23 PM EDT
global news,Transsexual artist Titica

Kuduro, the new face of Angola's rap-techno music style, is getting attention for more than catchy lyrics and innovative dance moves. Angola’s latest music sensation, Titica, is transsexual and in a country where homosexuality is illegal, her soaring popularity is forcing the Southern African nation to rethink some of its conventions on sexuality.

"Thanks to God, I am very happy, it has taken a while to get here and involved a lot of sacrifice but thanks to God, everything is going well for me," she told the BBC. "I've been stoned, I've been beaten, and there is a lot of prejudice against me, a lot of people show that. There is a lot of taboo.”

Despite the taboo, the 25-year-old is one of the most popular artists in Angola. She was named best kuduro artist of 2011, was invited to perform at an annual Divas concert attended by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, where she was named a diva and recently held a live performance at a club in New York City.

"Titica is talented, she is making good music and she has a fantastic live show. That is why people like her," Angolan creative Hugo Salvaterra, told the BBC. "Kuduro has definitely opened the door for Titica's acceptance. Her music is good, she entertains us, and so we accept her."

In general, hip hop has emerged as a powerful medium of expressing political dissent in Angola where many have accused the government of corrupt handling of the country’s vast oil wealth.

Pushing convention for even many in the U.S., in one video Titica plays a blushing bride surrounded by her friends who fluff her dress and hold her hands at the altar. Homosexuality is illegal in Angola and much of Africa, where the issue of gay rights has seemed to take center stage over the past few years. Despite current laws on the books in Angola, the BBC reports that there is, in fact, a new penal code due to go before parliament which criminalizes discrimination for reasons of "sexual orientation."

"This is a baby step but I believe that it will help immensely in breaking stereotypes. We are still a very conservative society, but I feel that the ice is breaking," Salvaterra told the BBC, speaking about Titica’s celebrity.

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(Photo: Courtesy BBC News)