As Katy Perry’s PR team goes into overdrive, the world of pop has some pertinent questions to ask itself about its friends in hip hop. With the release of Perry’s Bon Appétit, a song in which she collaborates with rap group Migos, her fans have been quick to criticise due to the group’s alleged homophobia.
When a fellow rapper, iLoveMakonnen, came out as gay, Migos member Quavo allegedly said “This world is not right”. It seems that while people’s view of homosexuality has completely changed over the last few decades, hip hop is still plagued with blatant and unashamed examples of homophobia.
Rooted in inner city depravation, troubled upbringings and “the struggle”, hip hop is a genre which feeds off of the adversity faced by its proponents. In the fight for both racial equality and recognition, hip hop has either ignored the LGBT movement or, sadly, railed against it.
“I show no love, to homo thugs
Empty out, reload and throw more slugs
How you gonna explain fucking a man?
Even if we squashed the beef, I ain’t touching ya hand”
The phrase “no homo” was created to qualify any phrase open to misinterpretation as fully heterosexual. Its critics believe that the phrase perpetuates the stigmatisation of gay people within a community already at odds with the gay community.
Certain hip hop artists have achieved incredible commercial success off the back of songs which condone homosexuality, a theme so prevalent within the genre that it could be seen as an intolerable one for gay people. Even some “conscious” rappers, whose lyrics focus on issues more important than gangs, women and money, still have a strong intolerance to the idea.
Listen I ain’t gon’ play no more
Beat a faggot till he ain’t fucking gay no more
– Jedi Mind Tricks
In many cases, the progressive aspect of the rise up out of poverty and to an elevated position of fame and wealth comes with it a sense of maturing and added wisdom. As to whether the softening of lyrics and opinions has genuinely come from within, as opposed to outside pressures, can be hard to tell.
In the case of Eminem, I find it hard to believe the angry blonde-haired rapper wouldn’t be at odds with the man he has become. His move to singing, heartfelt lyrics and pop collaborations doesn’t seem to fit with the man who rapped: “I’m sick of you little girl and boy groups, all you do is annoy me. So I have been sent here to destroy you”.
“New Kids on the Block, sucked a lot of dick
Boy/girl groups make me sick
And I can’t wait till I catch all you faggots in public”
In many ways, hip hop was built on pain. That the genre has turned to inflicting pain upon others is a shame. In the case of DMX, who rose to prominence off the back of an openly homophobic song, this pain was – unfortunately – inflicted on his dogs, also.
With the word “faggot” still being a standard insult in these circles, it seems that there’s still a long way to go. In this aggressively masculine world of guns, drugs and crime, perhaps it’s inevitable that traditional values of masculinity have halted any sort of progressive attitude when it comes to homosexuality.
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