Homo hop: rap music’s great taboo

Macklemore’s ‘Same Love’ and Murs’ ‘Animal Style’ have challenged rap fans to consider the homophobia in the music they consume but gays and lesbians still remain grossly underrepresented within musics most popular genre.

Just as feminism isn’t a fight just for women, gays shouldn’t be the only people to feel threatened by homophobia. Hip-hop’s inherent masculinity has always proved an obstacle for anyone looking to use it as a platform for discussing one of society’s most outdated taboos.

Gay rappers have operated within a safe zone for years but the provocatively named homo hop genre has yet to produce it’s first breakout star. The most telling thing about the genre’s Wikipedia page is that the two songs they list as notable are by straight artists (Murs and Adair Lion’s BEN), just as the song that prompted this article was made by a couple of heterosexual men. So are we comfortable with these issues being tackled so long as they are being addressed  in a certain way? The evidence would suggest so but it’s important not to oversimplify the debate.

To put everything down to rap’s hypermasculinity discounts the pioneering work put in by Sugarhill Records founder Sylvia Robinson and countless other women since but there is value in exploring hip-hop’s new idea of sexy. Before Rapper’s Delight most people struggled to see how the hip-hop party could be condensed into a commodity, but by the time Whodini’s Magic’s Wand became the first rap music video a culture that began as a cry for help was already being prepped for its coming out party.

Somewhere down the line sexy became synonymous with dangerous and hip-hop lost its smile. In its place was a scowl that will outlive the founding fathers who spun block party’s just because they wanted to see their friends having a good time. Instead of waving their hands in the air rappers began throwing gang signs and toting imaginary pistols.

Hip-hop’s new image caused obvious problems for a gay community that is often stereotyped as effeminate, problems that still hold back gay rappers today. The truth is that mainstream audiences just aren’t comfortable with how open guys like Le1F are with their sexuality. “Doing the splits on a dick like a balance beam” just isn’t a line that most straight men can get down with,

Often people become so invested in a particular cause that they lose their objectivity and fail to see the flaws in the movement that they’re championing. We’ve become so anti-mainstream that we’ve began to accept a lower standard elsewhere, so long as the artist ticks a certain box and allows us to satisfy our hipster ego’s.

The top comment on the Youtube page for Deep Dickollective’s ‘For Colored Boys’ reads “this music sucks. not cuz its by gay ppl. it just doesnt sound good”. LOwrestler69 may have a bunch of other problems that he’s dealing with, but knowing what he likes and what he doesn’t like isn’t one of them. Gay rappers’ lack of opportunities shouldn’t mean that they are subject to a different level of quality control.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis just sold 78,000 records in a week off their own backs. There’s no reason why an artist should have to rely on major labels anymore – being independent is the new getting signed. Artists with a story have never had more ways to tell it, and everyone with a Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook can be a part of the narrative. We are Jimmy Iovine.

The good the bad the uncomfortable.




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