Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Homophobia and the Rap World

While I found the entire documentary we watched in class to be interesting, I think the portion addressing homophobia in rap music was the most provocative and thought compelling. After class I wanted to learn more about the relationship between rap music and homophobia. I found a Newsweek article discussing Terrance Dean, a rapper, who came out around 2008 and his memoir that ultimately exploits the immense homophobia circulating throughout the hip-hop culture. Early in the article Dean talks about how even now he sometimes finds himself forgetting that he is openly gay because he had to hide his sexuality from the rap world for so long. Dean says one of the reasons Hip Hop continues to be so homophobic is because of the constant anti-gay messages the “powerful black church”(4) is preaching. The churches play an extremely influential role in black culture, and thus thier message has in turn also been adopted by the hip-hop culture. Dean also talks about the threat homosexuality poses to a man’s masculinity—especially a rapper’s masculinity for it suggests that he is “soft” and a “sissy” (4). Also in the article is a quote from the openly gay rapper Tim’m West who says “straightness is as crudely affixed to skill in hip-hop as the microphone” (4). Tim’m’s quote is cleverly reiterating the idea that masculinity and toughness are strictly related to being straight—leaving no room for homosexuality to be a part of the rap world. I think that because of the image the rap world has created for itself and so heavily pushed through its lyrics and music videos, it would be almost impossible for an openly gay rapper to infiltrate the hip-hop world successfully without scrutiny. Dean later comments on this sad truth by saying “hip-hop was founded on the notion of speaking truth; it was the voice of an urban underclass largely hidden from the mainstream.” (9). Dean’s words display the irony that lies in the rap culture not only denying, but actively putting down the gay community. Another topic also important, although not addressed in the Newsweek article, is the exploitation of women in rap music. I only bring up the exploitation of women because women are used as another tool to define and enhance one’s masculinity. It honestly disgusts me that men, let alone talented artists, find that they can only truly assert their masculinity by stripping other men of their own as well as objectifying women.

Here is the article:

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