Soce, the Elemental Wizard, is also known by his birth moniker, Andrew Singer. Singer is quick to point out that he is not the only white, gay, Jewish rapper out there, but he is probably the only Ivy League-educated (Yale), violin-playing rapper trying to break down barriers in a music industry niche too often scarred by homophobia.
Much of the initial attention that Soce (pronounced SO-SAY) has gotten undoubtedly has come from his triumvirate of unique qualities—white, gay, and Jewish—but Singer is defined by a lot more than what some might quickly dismiss as shtick.
In a recent interview, Singer told Gay City News, “Even if someone is kind of homophobic or not into white, gay, and Jewish rappers, they see that I take hip hop seriously, and that I’m not just trying to be a gimmick. If you weren’t really listening to the words, it would sound like another straight rapper.”
Although Singer talked about the homophobia that permeates the hip hop industry with the same ease that he raps a song entitled “I Am So Gay,” in fact, his sexuality, of all the qualities that make him an unusual rapper, was the most difficult for he himself to come to terms with.
“At first I used to rap and not talk about my sexuality,” he said. “I would talk about everything else. I would talk about video games, I would talk about being from New Hampshire, I would talk about being white and Jewish, but I didn’t rap about my love life.
“It got to be very painful because music is all about self-expression. So after a while it became impossible to keep up the charade, and I finally had to let everyone know I was gay.”
Since becoming open about his sexuality, Singer, 26, has joined an emerging community of gay rappers.
“There is a big gay hip hop scene that most people don’t know about,” he explained.
Web sites such as gayhiphop.com and a feature film on the Logo channel called Hip Hop Homos are illustrative of this growing music trend. Still, the gay hip hop movement remains very much underground.
“If more people knew about gay hip hop, then more people would come out the closet,” Singer said.
Singer talks rather nonchalantly about the homophobia in the hip hop industry, but he acknowledged that it cannot be ignored. As Grammy winner Kanye West observed, “The exact opposite word of hip hop, I think, is gay.”
Singer explained how this notion lives on.
“A lot of hip hop is about proving how much of a man you are,” he said. “People want to show that they are tough, that they can hold it on their own.”
Singer is trying to define what it means to be tough—and a man—on his terms.
“I don’t try and threaten to beat anyone up, but I do come pretty tough in my own way,” he explained. “I tend to talk a lot of tough sexual talk.”
One of his songs is titled “SD”— short for sucking dick, in which Singer seems to brag about what it took for him, at least symbolically, to make his way in the music business.
“Most rappers talk about how they made it to the top without ever needing anyone else’s help,” he said. “They say, ‘I never had to suck dick to make it the top.’ This song is a metaphor about how I am always nice to people because I want people to be nice to me.”
While this deeper meaning of a song as sexually explicit as “SD” will probably be lost on most people, Singer is nonetheless putting his sexuality out there in a way that few gay artists have.
Despite his use of sexually explicit lyrics, Singer often finds listeners oddly seem reluctant to take it at face value.
“Sometimes I get the reaction that people don’t think I’m really gay,” he said. “They think I am just doing this for the publicity.”
Clearly, however, Singer is not doing this for the publicity.
Looking at the music industry as a whole, there is a short list of gay musicians who have been able to reach stardom.
“I enjoy Elton John, but he is very flamboyant,” Singer said. “He paved the way, but I wish there were more.”
Despite his openness in his music now, Singer acknowledged that it remains a barrier to his mass market appeal.
“It is definitely the hardest being gay,” he said.
Still, there are also new opportunities at hand.
“The gay market is huge right now,” Soce said. “I’m bringing something totally different to the table.”
The Elemental Wizard’s most recent album, “The Lemonade Incident,” can be purchased on his website at socetew.com.