Friday, May 17th is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. After reading an article linked to the day in a newspaper, it evoked the question, “Is Hip Hop Homophobic?”
While some headz would prefer not to get involved in a discussion of this one topic-that alone answers my question. One can’t deny the effect homosexuality has had on society; It has brought shame and torture on the ones who have gone public about their homosexuality, a cloud of doubt over a friendship of boys who grew up together, torn some families apart but it also seems to have freed those who have come out of the ‘closet’ about their sexuality.
Hip Hop being a form of expression and to some extent, a depiction of what is really happening in society, has not been exempt from homosexuality’s effects. Whether it’s against or for it; it has somehow been affected.
Taunts and homophobic remarks at battles are enough to make drivers at Bree seem like feminists. Like when One L faced off with Tumi at Scrambles4Money: “…doesn’t this homo remind you of that fat guy with the skin-cornrows that does adverts for OMO,” – One-L. But one could easily see how belittled homosexuality is when Tumi said “When Chiefs and Pirates are playing, your flag is six colours too many” and the crowd just burst into laughter. Okay, maybe the fact that One-L was being slaughtered also contributed.
As a culture homophobia can be seen in a mere exchange of pleasantries: Guy one “Yo wassup my man, dang! Where you get those stunners?” Guy two:”Word. I got them downtown,” Guy One: “No homo but you looking fresh in those, man.”
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? ‘No Homo’ is a term used on the streets to clear one’s name if he has said or done anything considered to be homosexual.
The term originated in East Harlem in the 90s.It came into Hip Hop through Harlem rapper (and ironically pink coat rocking) Cam’ron and his Diplomats crew. Kats have since been using it in their lyrics to rid themselves of possible double-entendre.
Though some might say there’s a grain of immaturity in the way rap treats homosexuality, we should remember when and where Hip Hop was found. It was in the 70s on the streets of Brooklyn, New York. That era produced legends like Rakim, Slick Rick, NWA, Public Enemy just to mention a few. These cats came at a time when it was still a prerequisite to be hard, gangster and very masculine.
Times have changed.
There’s contrast in Snoop Lion’s and ASAP Rocky’s opinions on the issue of homosexuality. “I used to be homophobic, but as I got older, I realized it wasn’t the right way to do things,” said new generation rapper A$AP. Doggystyle rapper Snoop Lion believes hip hop is way too masculine to even consider having a gay rapper. Ask Lil Wayne and he’ll tell you how the streets reacted after he embraced Birdman with a kiss in the ‘Everything’ video.
It seems the new generation of rappers is more accepting of homosexuality – question is though, when will a rapper, who is gay, be open about it without losing cred or dignity?