“Used” is part of an exercise in queering Black, masculine narratives in popular music through blackout and erasure. Drake’s “Hotline Bling” and Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” are two commercially successful, recognizable songs, but through erasure, the narratives have been altered and merged into a new reality—creating space out of narratives where queerness was not previously present, permissible, or made visible.
In a way, after some stripping away, these narratives already existed, they were just obscured by other noise, just as Black queerness has always existed. In this new form, these narratives, originally about heterosexual relationships, take on new layers of meaning.
Steffan Triplett is an instructor and MFA candidate at the University of Pittsburgh. Some of his work appears or is forthcoming in DIAGRAM, The Offing, Wildness, Ghost Proposal, Kweli Journal, Foundry, and Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color. Steffan has been a fellow for Callaloo and Lambda Literary and is a VONA/Voices alum. He was raised in Joplin, Missouri.