By Justin Ray
Following Frank Ocean’s announcement of a tryst with another man, rapper Murs has released a new video to accompany his single “Animal Style” that has the internet buzzing.
Although many celebrities commended Ocean for his strength, Murs has taken his support for same-sex equality to a level not many would have the courage. The music video tells a story about two gay youths in high school struggling to maintain a relationship while living in a less than supportive environment. Murs plays Roderick who is in the closet while dating another student, Jonathan. The video depicts the heterosexual rapper upping the same-sex support ante by kissing his male actor counterpart.
Murs’ character Jonathan finds being in a gay relationship too risky and pummels his boyfriend into the ground to avoid being outed in front of his friends. At the end of the story, the two teenage lovers meet again but Roderick pulls out a gun and shoots his boyfriend as well as himself.
The rapper has made a profound statement with the video, calling out all those who oppose gays.
It is a courageous gesture considering that the rap game isn’t exactly the most supportive towards gay people. The music video also features interspersed shots of the rapper rocking a “Legalize Gay” shirt, making his stance abundantly clear.
Sadly, Murs’ is getting more attention for the kiss; but truth be told, the most daring feature of the song is the lyrics. Murs describes his character’s inner conflict with religion: “So he lived in fear of God’s wrath/ The preacher said that God loves us all except fags.” His inner conflict with religion leads him into a downslide of self loathing and eventually the murder/suicide. Of course there can be a lengthy dialogue about whether the message is about organized religion or religion with a capital R; regardless, the fact that he outlined how religion can make gays unjustly hate themselves is more courageous than any kiss could be.
Murs explained his intentions with the song on Youtube: “The first was to be an advocate for people close to me who are out, and those who have yet to come out. It’s also a love song, which is nothing new for me. But with this one I wanted to challenge the listener to ask themselves: Is the love shared by two people of the same gender, really that different than the love I have for my partner of the opposite sex?”
The future of rap may take a new course with more musicians showing support and going against the grain of the history of rap. Last year Lil B released an album entitled “I’m Gay (I’m Happy)” and later revealed he received death threats. Although his support for same-sex rights is more obtuse, he did make a statement about the climate of homophobia in hip hop and his apathy towards it.
Hip hop is meeting a tipping point. Universally respected hip hop artists–Jay Z, Kanye, Eminem, Russell Simmons–are releasing statements in support of gay people. Even the future pioneers of rap have shown support. A$AP Rocky once said about homosexuality that you lose too many friends being homophobic and that hating gays is like being sexually racist.
Murs, along with other rappers who champion the cause, use their influence to show future generations that being gay isn’t a crime. The US government suggests that gay people are not equal citizens by not federalizing gay marriage nor any form of legislation that would at least give gay people some legal recognition to be honored by each state. However, public figures who have influence can show others that supporting gay people shows more strength than rejecting them. Hell, it can even be lucrative.
Either way, the tides suggest that homophobia in the rap community will one day be a state of mind to be laughed at in the future, and Murs has helped that become a possibility.
Check out his groundbreaking song and the video below.
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