July 08, 2012
The Love Letter That Shook Hip-Hop
Even as rap has grown more tolerant, it's shied away from talking directly about same-sex relationships—and love in general. That's why Frank Ocean's coming-out note is important.
Michael P. Jeffries in The Atlantic:
So even though Ocean is not a rapper, the impact of the letter echoes throughout hip-hop, which has a history of casual and vicious homophobia among its most commercially successful artists (and many fans). As DJ and hip-hop journalist Davey D points out, this history includes repeated attempts to erase and forget LGBT hip-hop artists. But beyond that erasure, bigoted notions of manliness permeate hip-hop. Rappers persist in using homophobic slurs and descriptions of gay sex acts as lyrical weapons for demeaning opponents and critics. And when same-gender-loving women are discussed by men in hip-hop, it's usually as part of the man's spectacular descriptions of his own sexual conquests and fantasies.
The recent history of hip-hop is encouraging, though. Tyler and Jay-Z issued immediate statements of support for Ocean once the letter became news. Several years ago, Kanye West discussed his adoption and subsequent rejection of homophobia as a young man and a hip-hop artist. When famed hip-hop DJ Mr. Cee was arrested while having sex with a man in his car, 50 Cent—a prime example of cartoonish hypermasculinity—emphasized Mr. Cee's contributions to rap and affirmed that he would still work with the DJ "any time."
Posted by S. Abbas Raza at 09:20 AM | Permalink