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Uzo: On Trans Artistry

Robyn Exton

Nov 16, 2021

Uzo: On Trans Artistry

Uzo – also known as CJ Run – is a trans, non-binary rapper, songwriter, and producer from England. I had the pleasure of learning more about Uzo, their music, the challenges they’ve faced as a trans, non-binary artist, and their thoughts on trans advocacy and allyship.

How you wanna fuck me but you won’t follow back?
Whats the rationale, where’s the sanity in that?
Come on over anyway, blows for the back
If I say i love you then I gotta take it back
I was smashed just a little bit,
waxed just a little bit
Fuck around and put you on my tax for a little bit

– From “Dey My Dey” by Uzo

Interview with Uzo

K: Tell me a little bit more about your background – what makes you the trans, non-binary musician you are today?

U: I’m Uzo, I’m a rapper, songwriter, and producer. I’ve been making music for over 10 years and performed under the name CJ Run for about 6 years up until the pandemic. I was raised in England so my music draws from UK RnB, Grime, Afro-fusion, and Electronic Music as well as American genres. I make what I like and I tell my story.

K: What most would you like to share about who you are and the type of music you produce?

U: Music is a universal tool, it transcends cultures and has a way of bringing people together. Even if you don’t speak the language you can feel the beat, emotions permeate. My music is about how I interact with the world.

K: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced on your journey?

U: Isolation, growing up, relationships, breaking away from expectations, and becoming friendly with your shadows, are feelings anybody can relate to. It just so happens to be told through the lens of someone queer and  gender non-conforming

People’s love for good music doesn’t always trump their bigotry. When you don’t fit the conventions of what you should look and sound like, you get ostracised. I’ve had to deny opportunities and collaborations just because people wanted to reap the rewards of my talent while misgendering me in the same breath. You learn to do a lot of things on your own.

Photos taken by Jordyn Belli (IG: @entrop.y_)

K: What do you think advocacy for trans rights looks like in 2021?

U: Advocacy and allyship for trans people can only exist if cis people are willing to be traitors to the violent cis-heterosexual patriarchy that actively harms us.

K: How can the LGBTQ+ community at large be better allies to trans folks?

U: That means paying us our worth, treating us like people with nuance instead of science experiments, divesting from the idea that genitals = gender, etc. There’s a lot of harmful thinking that leads to the untimely death of trans people. There’s nothing wrong with us, cisgender is not the standard. The work starts in your head and heart. I feel like I say the same thing every year.

You can find Uzo’s music on Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp. And follow Uzo on Instagram @uzoiswho.

Robyn Exton

Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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