For awhile, hip-hop and homophobia lived in the same house. They shared friends, as Hip-Hop openly shouted homophobia out. Rewind back to 2003, Hip-Hops prototypical homophobic anthem, “Where the Hood at?”.
“Man, cats don’t know what it’s gonna be
Fuckin with a nigga like me,
Last I heard, y’all niggas was havin sex,with the same sex
I show no love, to homo thugs
Empty out, reloaded and throw more slugs
How you gonna explain fucking a man?
Even if we squashed the beef, I ain’t touching ya hand
I don’t bunk with chumps, for those who been to jail
That’s the cat with the Kool-Aid on his lips and pumps
I don’t fuck with niggas that think they broads
Only know how to be one way, that’s the dog”
X criticized homosexuals in the urban community, most notably cross dressers an those he deemed to not be “hood enough.” Today DMX would be languished for those same lyrics on all sorts of major new outlets.
The landscape of hip-hop/urban culture has changed radically in my lifetime. That was 10 years ago. Just last year, Frank Ocean, an R&B artist who admitted to his first love being a man, won a Grammy. And nobody batted an eyelash when he walked on stage to claim his prize.
The point is that the ill-fated marriage between Hip-Hop and homophobia failed horribly. Artists are treated as such, and aren’t subject to questions over how “hood” they are.
It’s a wave that started with rappers like Kanye West, criticizing the culture and Drake, opening up on topics that were taboo, like fear, vulnerability and emotional pain.
But none of this means that hip-hop itself is resolved on the divisive issue of sexuality. While few would openly be homophobic in today’s urban music culture, there are still negative attitudes present.
Two years ago, recording artist Chris Brown was allegedly involved in an altercation with Frank Ocean, reportedly calling him a “faggot”. The subsequent brawl that left Frank with several lacerations is one of those ugly blemishes I mentioned earlier.
These things happen when culture changes before the individual attitudes that contribute to it do. However,in order for a culture to change, influential minds have to champion the cause so that others pay attention.
Macklemore is a example of such. 12 years ago when DMX was barking into microphones, he couldn’t have imagined that a white rapper would top the charts with an anti-homophobic anthem of his own.
Although controversial, his forward thinking album, The Heist, with Ryan Lewis progressed the conversation about personal liberties and acceptance of all. In fact, the album won a Grammy last year. Evidence that Hip-Hop may have for once and for all deleted Homophobia’s number from it’s phone.