Hip Hop is an art style which has great cultural significance to African Americans. Since our original culture was stripped away from us during slavery, we had to invent our culture to express our experiences.
We spent years experimenting with music and we eventually came up with hip-hop. Though hip-hop is a black art, not all black people are able to enjoy it the same. Hip-hop is geared toward heterosexual black men and often alienates the black LGBTQ community.
Kanye West spoke the truth back in a 2006 interview where he said: “Everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people.” The genre has a long history of using and empowering homophobic language through heavy lyrical content. Homophobia has been used by rappers in their songs for decades, to the point that it is normalized.
For instance, let’s take a look at Eminem. The man has built an entire rap career off using anti-gay slurs and glorifying violence against homosexuals. Throughout his top three reviewed albums, Marshall Manthers LP, Slim Shady LP, and the Eminem Show, Eminem routinely mocked gay people and used the F-slur. Even in his last album, Marshall Manthers LP 2, he uses homophobic lyrics such as Little gay-looking boy / So gay I can barely say it with a straight face-looking boy / You witnessing massacre like you watching a church gathering taking place-looking boy / ‘Oy vey, that boy’s gay,’ that’s all they say lookin boy / You take a thumbs up, pat on the back, the way you go from your label everyday-looking boy.” And there are plenty more of these exact lyrics found in the song, “Rap God.” Eminem says a plethora of bigoted things against gay people yet he is still revered as one of the greatest rappers in history. His homophobia is either ignored and admired throughout his career. Eminem may be a huge example of homophobia in hip-hop, but he is not the only rapper who has a history of this bigotry; countless rappers have and gotten away with it.
Another instance of homophobia in hip-hop is found in rap beef. Often, when two rappers collide with each other, they will weaponize homophobia as a means to attack their opponent. This can be found in the beef between Jay-Z and Nas back in the early 2000’s. In his diss track, “Takeover” Jay-Z uses homophobic language to come after Nas and Mobb Deep. In retaliation, Nas used the same language to attack Jay-Z. In doing this, both men attach a negative, derogatory and demeaning connotation which affects their gay listeners.
First of all, homophobia is never okay. No matter what, it is never warranted to dehumanize or attack someone because they are attracted to people of the same gender. Next, black LGBTQ people want to enjoy hip-hop as much as black heterosexuals, and they have every right to. It is their heritage as much as it is the heritage of any other black person. For them to be able to do so, hip-hop must correct its problem with homophobia. Rappers need to stop using homophobic language and make their music more inclusive of all black people.
What are your thoughts?
Please comment below.