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6 March 2012

Article: "Is Hip Hop over homophobia?" [snippet]

Our friends over at graffiti lifestyle site The London Vandal recently published this article, discussing the issue of homophobia in the modern hip hop industry. Here's the first half, check the rest here.

“Man, if you’re gay we can be friends. If you’re straight, we can be friends…I really don’t give a fuck and I don’t think anyone should care about what another man’s preference is…As long as you’re a great person and, y’know, you don’t bother me and make me uncomfortable, then let’s be friends, dude.

[Hip-hop] needs to stop being so close-minded because that will just cause the genre to fail. Look at pop. Pop doesn’t discriminate against people. Look at Lady Gaga, y’know what I mean? Who the fuck makes the rules for hip-hop? Who the fuck dictates who’s cool and who’s not?” - A$AP Rocky (via Spinner)

The role Rakim Mayers – known to most as A$AP Rocky – plays in his raps is not a particularly new one. The cool guy, the tough guy, the cocky motherfucker, and so on. His off-wax persona is perhaps more intriguing. In interview’s he’s admitted he’s “not a tough guy”, and twice now he’s announced that he’s got no problem with homosexuals (though smartly keepin’ it hood by bookending one quote with a “let’s smoke my nigga”). Maybe Mayers just knows his audience. While the response from hip-hop outlets has been mixed, other, traditionally indie-focused blogs like Pitchfork have hyped him up to the nth degree. Though unafraid to champion ign’ant shit like Waka Flocka Flame, they won’t always turn a gloss over misogynist and homophobic lyrics – see the recent furore over Tyler The Creator’s liberal use of “faggot”. In the wake of Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’, the financial benefits of a more inclusive style are obvious, and Mayers does have Sony backing him to the tune of 3 million dollars. This isn’t even the first time a famous rapper has expressed tolerance of homosexuals – Kanye West and more surprisingly, Fat Joe (“If you’re gay, rep your set”) have both temporarily highlighted the ongoing debate about homosexuality in hip-hop. You’d see then what you’re seeing now – journalists from XXL to the Guardian asking whether we’re finally about to witness an end to hip-hop’s traditionally hostile attitude to the LGBT community. It’s not enough to cite the open-mindedness of a handful of rappers as evidence of more widespread change. But, if you take a closer look, there’s been not so much a shift as a gradual erosion of intolerance.

First off: the exotic otherness of hip-hop is no longer it’s primary appeal. In the 80′s, rap music provided a transgressive thrill – it was a look into a parallel universe, aggressive, rebellious. Rap could afford to be hostile and exclusive, even if it technically excluded a large chunk of it’s fanbase (they were still buying records). Big Daddy Kane was explicity “anti-faggot”, and even more politically minded acts like Brand Nubian weren’t “down with the gays”. But these non-PC lyrics weren’t a problem, they were often part of the appeal. It’s not like the 80′s were a tolerant time anyway, with the lack of understanding around AIDS spawning more disdain for the homosexual community.

As mentioned before, the rest of the article can be read here

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