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Hip Hop Culture
Friday July 27 1997
This is Gay Pride Week here in the Bay Area and folks from all over the country are congregating to the San Francisco Bay Area.. After all, this is considered to be the Gay Capitol of the US... And while we get ready to host what is easily one of the top 10 largest parades and festivals in the country... I thought we should some how figure out the role gays and lesbians have played within hip hop music and culture...It's a topic we've laughed about, smirked about and felt uncomfortable about..Hip hop is last bastion for straightness.. There's this belief that there ain't no gays in hip hop.. There's no way a lisping', limp wrist feminine type kid is gonna be able to flex skillz on the mike.. That's the belief.. that's the stereotype.. But one never knows who's who in this music business.. One never knows..
The current stats show that 2 out of every 10 people in this country are gay.. If that's the case you can best believe there are similar numbers within the hip hop community.. Like it or not, there have been gays and lesbians involved with hip hop from day one.. There were break dancers, grafitti artists, djs and people rockin' the mike who have an attraction for those of the same sex...
The question arises..if this is the case, then why haven't any major rap stars come out the closet ? Why don't we have some concrete proof? And the question that can be asked back... is 'why are you so concerned? 'Why are you so curious?'..
We must keep in mind that hip hop was initially born out of street culture.. That culture has required one to be hard.. and strong.. That runs counter to the stereotypes associated with being gay... Because street culture has routinely victimized those who are perceived as weak..or soft.. admitting to be gay could have serious and even fatal consequences... Hence many gay hip hoppers have opted to remain silent..
In addition to all that, there's a music business that folks belong.. and hip hop is big business.. It's a multi-billion dollar a year business..and one's image can and will determine one's financial success.. Hence this has been more of an incentive for folks to be silent..
People have to keep in mind that hip hop is no different than any other arena of entertainment.. Those of us who are deep in the game and work behind the scene are well aware of the which actors and actresses are gay.. We know which singers are gays... and we know which executives and power brokers behind the scenes are gay... Behind the scenes it's long been a professional courtesy to not go out and try and pull hole cards and destroy one's image.. To do so would be destroying one's livlihood.and doing that could and will have serious consequences.... The rule of thumb is to let those who want to speak on or publicly let be known their sexuality to do so at their own discretion..
Hip Hop like other art forms has it's contradictions.. There are kids rappin' about guns and gats who aren't really 'gangstas'..You see them.. A lot of them are studio gangstas..There's been on many occasions that I've seen some supposedly hardcore kid chill out and go the other way when tested.. There are kids who talking about being rich who have absolutely no money...A good 80% of the kids out there are poor.. They still live at home with momma.. They rented the car and the mansion shown in the video.. In most cases they've signed a lopsided deal and are being 'pimped' to death..There are artists who rap about being macks and big time plays..who are happily married and seriously committed.
Finally there are artists who have become hip hop sex symbols... There are artists who put forth strong. rough and rugged personas who are gay..So who are they?
It's really up to them to say.. It's up to them to come out the closet on their own..I can tell you for a fact there's quite a few.. Many have spent a lot of time crafting their image...I for one won't be the one 'outing' folks.. As long as you work in the business, you'll note that there a network of folks who watch each others back.. There are folks who will deal out some punishing economic and in some cases physical blows if you start putting their business out there...
The hip hop generation is at a strange crossroads.. Here we have a community of people who are constantly being discriminated against and like everyone else we within hip hop have to come to terms with our own prejudices and homophobia..We can't call foul when we're being hit and the head and then turn around and do the same thing to some one else.. We can't get upset when society wants to persecute and malign hip hop while we're persecuting and maligning gays..
Props out those artists within hip hop like Michelle Ndegeocello and Mi Phi Me for stepping out the closet.. Props to artists like Michael Franti of Spearhead for not being afraid to address this issue in their music..Remember people are people... and we all have a responsibility to be above and beyond finger pointing.. Don't be the one who points at gays within hip hop and say that they are sexually perverse while you have scantily clad women within your video.. or while you're rappin' about how many skinz you can hit... Don't play the holier then thou game and hide use religious convictions to justify hating gays while at the same time.. your violating any number of the 10 commandments by participating in some shady business.. Y'all know who you are.. Don't claim gays are hurting hip hop and destroying it's Black or Latino family.. while you're overseas screwing white women, not fathering your kids and beatin' Nubian and Aztec Queens down both in real life and in your videos and records.. In short lets not be so quick to judge one another.. and lets not be so quick to sit around speculating as to who's gay and who isn't gay.. Like 2Pac said only God Can Judge You...