Bryce Quartz: Greensboro’s controversially queer rapper
There aren’t many LGBTQIA+ artists represented in the Triad’s hip-hop and rap scene, or really in pop culture as a whole. Bryce Quartz is looking to change that, one controversial rhyme at a time.
Bryce Stone, aka Bryce Quartz, is a queer rapper and activist based in Greensboro. He is the owner of AVO Records, which, according to its Facebook page, means “Amor Vincit Omnia,” or “Love Conquers All.” The record label features Bryce Quartz, Drich, and Symphonic, and is affiliated with Deadcraft, ikenzi, and SBTyler.
Stone said that he is looking to shake up the rap/hip-hop scene by challenging the assumptions that are usually associated with the genres.
“Hip-hop has always been homophobic, transphobic and sexist, and it has always been an abrasive genre,” Stone explained. “Things are changing and we are in this revolutionary age where music is easier to create, and more people are allowed to make music. We are also in a socially acceptable time, which is lucky for me.”
Stone said that if he were making the music he is now a decade ago, people would protest his shows. Even still today, he said he isn’t taken seriously.
“It is definitely hard to navigate,” he said. “It is hard for people to take me serious as a rapper because I am white, which is funny. Everyone wants to compare me to Eminem, but I am not Eminem. I am Bryce, fuck you.”
He said other non-queer artists often don’t take him seriously either.
“I guess I do link a lot of my [musical] presence to being gay, but that is because I want people to see that you can be gay and be an artist and express yourself freely. That is the whole point to why I make music.”
He said there are certain expectations with him being a queer rapper that he doesn’t necessarily subscribe to. Like, for instance, only rapping about sex.
“I don’t sell sex,” he said. “I want to be known for my lyrics, my artistry, and for the buttons that I push in this culture. Maybe I’ll sell sex later, I don’t know. But I don’t want to be known for my body.”
He said being queer is still something that is not fully accepted in this country, and being a rapper makes it even more nuanced.
“Especially with the president we have now,” Stone explained. “Hate crimes have risen since he took office. It is hard because I will get random hate online, and have to hope that at my shows, they don’t show up or threaten me.”
Stone shared that he has received a death threat before, which still frightens him.
“It still scares me with all the shootings. We are in the South, and I grew up in Randolph County,” Stone said. “It is not something that couldn’t happen, it is still a possibility.”
This death threat sparked inspiration for one of his earlier songs, “C.C.B.M.L.C.M.H.” This acronym stands for “Candy Coated Broke Back Mountain Living Cinderella Militant Homo.”
“Some asshole called me that online and then threatened to kill me, so I made it a song about killing straight cis people,” Quartz explained. “But, I did that to explain privilege. I want the listeners to question my lyrics and motives. ‘Why is he acting like this? Why does he want to kill me just for being straight?’ And if they ask those questions, then I did my job. They understand privilege better. Because they’re questioning why somebody would want to physically harm them over their sexuality. That’s what LGBT+ people and many other minority groups experience almost every single day. A lot of people shit on me for that song, but that just means they don’t get it and they don’t understand privilege.”
Stone said other songs he gets flak from for having abrasive lyrics are “Make America Gay Again” and “F.U. (Falwell University), ” which was written because he did not have a good experience being queer while attending Liberty University.
“The whole point is to be threatening,” he explained of his aggressive approach to writing. “It is not really reflective, it is abrasive and angry cause when I was stuck in the closet, that is how it was for me: I was angry and upset. I was full of emotions I couldn’t even express.”
Stone said his new project “American Queer” is a compilation of three mixtapes. He said he made three because he had to come out three times.
“The first time I came out was to my parents, and it was really emotional because I was 14 and they didn’t really understand,” he admitted. “They were scared parents because they thought they did something wrong. I saw it as hatred at the time. I thought they hated me for who I was.”
He said his second and third time coming out, in addition to attending Liberty University, put him in a bad place mentally. Making this series has helped him work through a lot of his emotions and move past his negative experiences. He said he has repaired his relationship with his parents and is now living authentically as a gay man.
“I have to keep doing this— it is empowering,” he said regarding making music. “I am hoping by June next year I will be releasing my full length [album] with videos. That is my 2020 vision.”
Katie Murawski is the editor of YES! Weekly. She is from Mooresville, North Carolina and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in film studies from Appalachian State University in 2017.
Stone said he has a monthly showcase at New York Pizza called LGBT Future, which celebrates and features other queer artists. The next one is on Dec. 15. Headlining is Jaye Naima and others featured are Bryce Quartz, The G.A.T.A.R., Jaded, Elijah Rock, and a special pop-up performance by a surprise artist. The cover is $5 and the proceeds go to Triad Health Project. Doors open at 8 p.m. and there will also be tarot readings available for $5. For more information about AVO Records, visit the Facebook page. Check Bryce Quartz out on SoundCloud.