INTERVIEW: Fifty Grand discusses his transition and the most difficult part about being trans in today's music industry.
It's easy to remain anonymous. It's perhaps one of the many opportunities that the internet affords us-- we can hide safely behind our blue light-emitting screens and comfortably tap away at whoever or whatever we please. If we so choose, we can connect with other internet-dwelling creatures, whether that be on Soundcloud, Instagram, or any of the virtually-connecting apps. We can also choose to reveal only a portion of ourselves, or sometimes (shout out our trolls) a wholly fake persona altogether. So, when someone like Fifty Grand, decides to reveal his truest self for all to see, without concern for outside opinion, and most of all, with confidence-- it's worth recognizing and applauding.
Fifty Grand is one of the few openly transgender artists. In fact, his transition occurred mid-career: so perhaps you stumbled across his music ahead of the pronoun change, as he's been racking up the plays on Soundcloud since 2012. The talented producer is well-known in Soundcloud circles, having provided experimental production for a host of equally experimental rap figures, including XXXTENTACION and Bones. While the producer often has a dark, sinister style, his brand new song, which we're excited to premiere alongside this exclusive Q&A, veers quite opposite. "Summer Rain," the title of the new song, is just that. It feels like summer rain. A day that is still warm, but tinged with greyness.
Read our brief Q&A conducted via e-mail below, and check out "Summer Rain" while you're at it.
HotNewHipHop: First, for our readers who may not be familiar with you-- tell us who you are and what you do.
Fifty Grand: Fifty Grand, an artist. I sing and produce. I like to write songs and stir moods. I've worked closely with XXXTENTACION, Bones, Craig Owens, and Night Lovell to name a few.
You’ve developed quite the presence on Soundcloud. When did you first start uploading music to Soundcloud?
How long did it take you to start gaining traction and a proper following?
Not long, I had only a few songs out when a net label contacted me to release something with them.
You’re one of the few (if there even are a few) openly trans artists in the hip-hop sphere. We want to find out, where did your journey start? At what age did you feel like something was amiss when it came to your body/self?
I was living in Brooklyn at the time, it was probably 2014. I always felt a little different, distant from what society felt a girl should be, but it wasn't until after school when I lived on my own and spent time away from people and family that I began to really learn about who I was. I think I also learned what a trans man was around then, and pieces started to fall into place. When I learned transition was a thing people could do, a lot of moments and feelings began to make sense.
Your pronoun is “he,” correct? Prior, you were “she”?
Yes and yes.
Did you start to transition prior to releasing music/becoming an artist? Or, can you tell us exactly how these two journeys overlapped.
I had been putting music out as Fifty Grand for 2 years prior to transitioning.
What was the transition process like for you? Can you share, if you’re comfortable in so doing, what you went through to transition? What type of support did you have in place to help? I.e. did you have family, financial support, friends?
Between family and friends, I've always had a big support system, for which I'm very thankful. I take testosterone shots and I've had a couple surgeries. Contrary to what most people think, there is no single procedure -- the process itself is much like a second puberty and can take up to ten years. I will always have to inject testosterone.
Were you always open about being trans with your Soundcloud community/fans/fellow collaborators from the beginning or was this a revelation you revealed later on in your artistic career (and if so, when)?
One day I made a tweet about it, in real time as I was experiencing dissonance. No crazy announcement just a little mention that I would like my supporters to refer to me as "he" from now on.
How have people been when they find out, have you had to deal with any bullshit reactions?
People have been overwhelmingly supportive! Given the nature of the internet there will always be haters, but it doesn't bother me. People have even addressed me in person trying to get a reaction but I actually don't give a fuck so they end up either embarrassed or disappointed.
What’s the most difficult part about being trans in the music industry, or in the hip-hop music industry specifically?
People think they know what is and isn't transphobic, everyone has an opinion and everyone's an expert. Not being sure if some rappers will fuck with you, or if they'll stop fucking with you when they find out you're trans.