Will Hip-Hop Fans Ever Accept An Openly Gay Emcee?

November 15, 2011  |  

In what has to be a first for the LBGT community, Fat Joe, the rapper, has come out and embraced gay acceptance in hip-hop.

During a recent interview, the Bronx native shared his thoughts about the circumstances around the recent arrest of Mister Cee, former Hot 97 DJ, who was allegedly caught with a transgender prostitute. The Bronx rapper told Vlad TV that “Whatever his preference is, it’s up to him. I’m not here to tell him what’s right or wrong.” On questions about whether or not he believes that there were gay rappers “hiding” in hip-hop, Joe unleashed with a litany of some of the most profound quotables on gay rights including: “I’m pretty sure I’ve done songs with gay rappers,” he continued. “I’m pretty sure of that. I’m pretty sure the football ni–as is gay, the basketball ni–as is… ni–as is gay….There’s millions of gay people in the world, girls too,” Joey Crack further went on to say; “…I think its 2011, going on 2012. So if you gay, rep your set.”

With that homophobia in hip-hop has been banished.  No but for real, Joe and his Elton John moment has gotten lots of praise from folks both within and outside of the hip-hop community. Although, within the same interview he did manage to go off on a tangent about some conspiracy theory about the “gay mafia” running hip-hop.

Nevertheless many folks have come to see Joe’s endorsement of gay acceptance and tolerance within hip-hop as a progressive milestone, signifying the first step in changing an environment, which has appeared to be hostile to the LBGT community. I mean, how often do you see a rapper, whose entire image is based around the most hyper-masculine, gangster image come out and support being openly gay in hip-hop?  But Joe isn’t the first rapper of late to flex his gay friendly muscles.

In September, Game, formerly The Game, said in an interview that not only does he not have a problem with gay rappers but also believes he may have already collaborated with closeted rappers before. Around that same time, Lil B aka The Based God released an album titled, “I’m Gay,” to the confusion and angst of most in his fan base. And then there is Kanye West, who has long (well since 2005) been a vocal critic of the negative connotations associated with “gay” within hip-hop lexicon. His revelation, he said, spawned from his discovery that his favorite cousin was gay and he believes that it’s time for the culture to become more open-minded.

So with this rather broad acceptance of the gay community from at least among some members of hip hop community, is it still fair to believe that the genre of music and its accompanying culture still deserve its perception of being a hostile place for openly gay rappers?

There have long been stories and rumors kicked around about homosexuality among the genre’s biggest emcees but no one has ever actually come out the closet.  However, there are a number of openly gay underground rappers making some noise but that noise is mostly hidden inside of the LBGT circles. Bringing an openly gay hip-hop artist to the mainstream is another beast altogether. And we can’t ignore the major freak out that happens among fans when news broke about Mister Cee’s off-wax exploits with a male prostitute.  Besides Mister Cee himself, who took to Twitter to adamantly deny the incriminating allegations against him, fellow Hot 97 DJ Funk Masta Flex vehemently defended not only Mister Cee from the allegations but also his sexuality.

Nothing compared to fan reactions to the scandal, which went beyond the shits and giggles reaction that I and a few other friends had. On various social networking sites and on radio programming, fans of hip-hop broke out into rants and raves about gays and their deviant behavior, cited Biblical versus against homosexuality, sending out death threats and filling their streams with a good bit of the expected homophobia and transphobia. These are the fans, who upon hearing the news about their beloved DJ,  immediately wrote him off and his legacy.

So perhaps the idea of an openly gay hip hop artist doesn’t have to do so much with their fellow rappers but the audience itself. As hip-hop album sales continue to lag you might began to see why a gay rapper would be reluctant to come out and face the music.

However, with the record sales dragging somewhat among the most loyal, and sometimes homophobic, older audience, perhaps there is room to build a new audience. Some hip-hop artists have learned that there is money to be made in a gay market.  Artist such as Nicki Minaj have written songs about having sexual relations with other women and has become a great supporter for queer youth.  And if there is money to be made from embracing the gay community, I sure we can expect to see more rappers come out in the near future singing to a different tune.

I don’t believe that hip hop is any more homophobic than the rest of American society, just more blatant in its language and bravado. Even though the thug and gangster mentality is so prevalent and it is very common to hear rappers clown each other with some very anti-gay rhetoric, the last time I checked there were no rappers in Congress blocking and stonewalling against critical gay rights issues. Likewise, as the business end of hip-hop remains the dominating factor as to what gets heard, promoted and brought, the paradigm will ultimately have to shift to embrace a newer, more tolerant fan base.  Because at the end of the day, it’s still all about the Benjamins.

 

Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.

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