Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"No Homo": Homophobia in Hip-Hop

So, the Grammy’s are tonight. This means that for the next few days, the internet is going to be littered with criticism from within the Hip-Hop community. Tonight, these Hip-Hop critics (some established and others simply enraged) will probably be rushing to write about how the Grammy’s can never quite get it right with selecting the best rap artists. We here at Postgraduate Musings might join in the critisicm, but today our agenda is just a little different.

The Grammy’s give us yet another opportunity to talk about one of Hip-Hop’s more controversial artists. Kanye West, the Louis Vuitton don is no stranger to this blog. One of several of his grists for the gossip mills came in last year's behind the scenes MTV interview titled All Eyes on Kanye West. In this August 22, 2005 interview, West stated that “the exact opposite of ‘hip hop’…is ‘gay.’”

Clips from this interview were shown in the February 4, 2005 Shook Ones of ‘05 episode on MTV. Guest panelist on this program included Jim Jones, David Banner, Remy Ma, Kevin Lile (Executive VP Warnes Bros.), Elliot Wilson (Editor in Chief, XXL Magazine), and Ebro (Hot 97fm NY). Of all the panelist, Jim Jones was by far the most infuriated by Kanye’s call to “stop it” with the homophobia. It was difficult to decipher whether this frustration stemmed from the recent war between the Dip-Set's Cam'ron and Jay-Z or whether he believed that Kanye’s critique of homophobia in Hip-Hop was superfluous. Interestingly enough, Cam'ron and the Dip-Set seemed to have revolutionized the use of phrase "no homo." I’m just going to go ahead and say that I agree with Kanye’s understanding of homophobia as the antithesis of Hip-Hop. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on this one.


Anonymous said...

As a hip-hop lover and a Black woman do I have a love/hate relationship with hip-hop, hell yeah, but also as a self described hip-hop feminist, does hip-hop simply represent the misogynist, homophobic, capitalist, patriarchal musings of the mainstream? hell yeah

hip-hop in it's "purest" theoretical form is supposed to represent the male bravado, the rawness of black malehood and of course our common understanding or closest working definition of homosexuality is one represented by being "sissified" or effemininate, so in that sense it is the "anti-thesis" of what hip-hop is supposed to "represent". In general, no one in America wants to have an honest in-depth conversation centered around misogyny and sexuality and especially not the marginalization of homosexuals by society. Does hip-hop need to re-examine it's self-sure, but honestly can we expect hip-hop to have the conversation that no one wants to have, especially when the majority of society is on there side when it comes to this issue? Picture the headlines, article written by white conservative male "Sure I hate hip-hop and everything it stands for, but they hate Gays too".

Kyle Anderson said...

I believe hip hop is so mysogynist and homophobic, but that it's an ideal portrayal of black masculinity. I say, ideal because black masculinity is in a state of crisis. With the revelatioin of "living on the down low" shown in popular media, such as an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, and in statistical evidence of the rising rate of AIDS/ HIV in the black community, black masculinity is in question. Kanye West, who is a considered a progressive, socially conscious, mainstream rapper, can show up at the Grammy's wearing an outfit preferred by white gay men in the disco era or that was worn by many characters in the documentary "Paris is Burning", but at the same time say the "opposite of hip hop is gay," shows the gravity of this situation.

I often look to art and the art world to see what the "hot topics" in our political, social, economic and cultural landscape exist at any given time. Kehinde Wiley pops into my mind as an artist who visually captures this dilemma. Interestingly enough, he is also very heavily financed, through the purchase of his large scale portraits, by hip hop moguls. (VH1 Honors Hip Hop commissioned a series of portraits of hip hop greats done by Kehinde Wiley.) His work combines the feminine imagery, displays of grandeur, street culture/ fashion, wealth and excess into his portraits.

Hip hop will always be msygonistic and homophobic until the time that black males realize black society is matriarchial, rather than patriarchial. Once this realization is realized, the crisis of black masculinity can shift.

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