Will Hip-Hop Ever Get Over Its Homophobia?

Some rappers happen to be thoughtful, intelligent people. Every Monday (that isn't a national holiday) Rocks Off will have some of them here discussing issues relevant to their culture.

Photo illustration by John Seaborn Gray
Homosexuality in hip-hop is a polarizing talking point. So much so, in fact, that several people asked to participate in this week's discussion elected to pass. The rest of them were in New York for the VH1's Hip Hop Honors. More on that tomorrow.

This Week's Panel: Yung Redd, Paul Wall, Nash White, Thurogood Wordsmith and Candi Redd

Not Invited: Michigan rapper Trick Trick, who said of the possibility of gays not liking his album: "I don't want your faggot money anyway. I don't like it [homosexuality]. Carry that shit somewhere else."

This Week's Prompt: D.C. rapper Wale was the subject of a bunch of news bits about a week or so ago for signing on to perform at a Black Pride parade, only he (or his people) decided to cancel when they found out the parade wasn't solely a Black Pride parade, but a Gay Black Pride parade.

Now, hat tip to Wale, because he ultimately ended up doing the show, but it brings up a few interesting discussion points, namely whether or not the hip-hop community at large will ever support an openly gay artist? Can this ever happen? Or is rap so soaked in machismo that it'd be impossible to separate the two?

The way it is right now, you'd stand a better chance of making a comeback if you slept with a few 15-year-olds than if you admitted to being gay. And isn't this especially ironic considering that hip-hop, particularly in its earlier days, has been utilized as a platform to ignite civil and social change?

Yung Redd: I don't think hip hop will embrace an openly gay artist because rap is currently based on street credit and how people view our musical character. This is something that won't go away anytime soon, I'm sorry to say.

Paul Wall: Well, if all details are full and true, they should have disclosed that it was a "gay pride" event. It's just like when I do concerts they'll tell us, "It's a children's event so make it a clean show"; "It's an early event so be there early"; "It's a hood event so come strapped"; "It's an exclusive show so only bring three people"; etc.

I've done shows before at a "gay" club, but that's something they need to be up front about when you get booked. Especially because it's something some people might have a problem with. And even more especially if its a "gay pride" event because a lot of media and/or homophobes will try and spin it out of proportion that he's now gay.

About a gay rapper in hip-hop, yeah it's definitely possible for a gay rapper to make it. I don't see why not. All you need is a fan base. Every artist has there own specific fan base they should go after. Even I have my particular fan base I cater too. The problem is people always want more.

I go after my fan base, but if I drive too far out my lane then my fans feel alienated and I become out of place. As an artist you have to stay in your lane. So if you're a gangster rapper, backpack rapper, pop rapper, sing/song rapper, strip club rapper, parking lot rapper, battle rapper, or gay rapper, there's no difference, just stay in your lane.

Pop rappers aren't gonna have the same fan base as gangster rappers. Neither are gay rappers. But one thing I should make clear is, being gay shouldn't be your gimmick. If that's who you are, then so be it.

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