DaBaby steps: will hip-hop finally conquer homophobia? | The music

After seeing the backlash online of rapper DaBaby’s recent homophobic and misogynistic remarks on stage, Bugz Gutta was “shocked and grateful.” Born William Bailey, the aspiring New York MC, a proud black homosexual, always adapts to such positive results. He calls himself “The Wire’s hip-hop Omar”, due to his life in crime and the years he spent behind bars, enduring verbal, physical and sexual abuse before finding peace. and success as a musician. He hopes the fallout DaBaby has faced “set an example.” So people realize that it is wrong to put hate and evil there. “

Last week DaBaby roared on stage, “If you don’t show up today with HIV, AIDS… it will kill you in two to three weeks, so turn on your cell phone. The rapper, whose 2020 album Blame It on Baby became his second US No. 1 in less than a year, said: “Ladies, if your pussy smells of water … your cell phone turns on. as pushback was mounting online, DaBaby apologized in a earthy way – “But the LGBT community… I’m not bothering you all, are you. Y’all business is y’all business” – and pulled out a clip in which he held up a sign saying “Aids” before filming a male couple. His Levitating collaborator Dua Lipa, Roots drummer Questlove, Madonna and Elton John all decried him; US radio stations removed his version of Levitating from playlists.After Lollapalooza Festival and others knocked DaBaby out of their lineups, he apologized more soberly on Instagram, but has since removed the apology.

“It’s not good to spread hatred there”… Bugz Gutta. Photo: Malik Duprée

But Bugz Gutta is not ready to forgive. “So many people in our community are like, ‘OK, he’s learned his lesson.’ But it comes down to self-hatred and self-esteem in the gay community, and understanding that it’s not okay for anyone to have a big platform and say these things. He’s offered other apologies that he clearly hasn’t written down, and that’s clearly not how he feels – how gullible does he think we are? “

DaBaby’s mea culpa was indeed “too little, too late” and appeared to be financially motivated, Deadlee said. Born Joseph Lee, the Las Vegas MC is widely regarded as a queer rap pioneer for leading the HomoRevolution tour in 2007. He aimed lyrical, on his 2006 album Assault With a Deadlee Weapon, at Eminem’s homophobic lines. , DMX and other famous The MCs and his candid bars on wrestling and triumph as an openly gay rapper have garnered much praise.

Deadlee says he would be more impressed with DaBaby if he volunteered with an HIV organization and then came back to “tell us what you learned,” and is also dissatisfied with the general public’s response. . Despite longtime community leaders like Elton John, Deadlee longs for more perspective from rap’s biggest stars, in the vein of unanimous criticism of country singer Morgan Wallen for using a racial slur. “It would definitely help if hip-hoppers expressed themselves,” Deadlee says. Instead, some hip-hop alumni like TI and Boosie have expressed their support for DaBaby, the latter doing so in a homophobic rant on Instagram.

Aina Brei'Yon.
Aina Brei’Yon. Photography: 3K9 Productions

Aina Brei’Yon, a queer rapper from Chicago, was also alarmed by the lack of outrage against DaBaby’s bashing of women. “Misogyny has been in his music for a long time, but he put it right in our face” while fuming on stage, she said, “when we had no choice but to be careful.” . Brei’Yon adds that the LGBTQ + community should not “wait until we are offended to talk about things or support each other,” which leads them to desire proactive and sustainable dialogue and action. She frequently takes to Instagram Live, speaking out on topics such as how the LGBTQ + community too often “clings to those outside of us to be accepted and then they disappoint us.” So we need more intentional support from each other. “

It’s all part of what Deadlee sees as impressive recent advancements in queer visibility that nonetheless “still has such a long way to go.” Indeed, 2021 had seemed to be a banner year for LGBTQ + representation in rap. Behemoth hitmaker Lil Nas X released two assuredly queer music videos this year: Montero (Call Me By Your Name) and Industry Baby. The latter features inmates dressed in pink uniforms to recall how many incarcerated homosexual men have been forced to wear this color, before being then humiliated or even isolated. During this time, Montero instantly rose to fame for associating homoerotic images with Biblical references. Although he has pissed off much of the Christian right, he has also been widely acclaimed by many progressives and has so far recorded over 300 million views on Youtube.

Deadlee observed this widespread success with enthusiasm. Twenty years after his producer told him he was decades ahead of his time, and after shock jock Howard Stern told him in an interview, “I like what you do, but you have to learn how to make money doing it, ”Deadlee is delighted. to finally see a gay rapper dominate the charts and boost the visibility of the community. Things were certainly different in Deadlee’s heyday – he recalls asking RuPaul for a feature after opening for the drag icon early in his career. RuPaul’s response? “I would love to, but your music is a little too present for me.” Death threats eventually led Deadlee to take a step back from music and focus on acting for a while.

Lil Nas X is clearly ushering in a new era as not only the best-selling LGBTQ + rapper around, but also one of the most popular artists of any genre or demographic. But he’s by no means the only assuredly creative and courageously outspoken queer rapper. Social media is teeming with gay, lesbian, trans and non-binary MCs posting both dazzling music videos and songs compelling enough to allow listeners from all walks of life to relate.

Many of them are on the cusp of breaking into the mainstream. Big Freedia has not only garnered goodwill as a proud queer-and-out artist, for example, but is adored for its upbeat ‘bouncing’ bangers and was sampled by Drake on Nice for What in 2018. Via Email , she says she strives to celebrate the beauty of LGBTQ + culture in her music, and that the title song of her upcoming EP Big Diva Energy tells about how “we want to feel that power when we walk into a room and into a room. life, as if we are in charge and no one can bring us down. It’s about owning who you are. It doesn’t matter if you are male, female, gay or straight. We all want to feel it!

Grand Freedia.
“It’s about owning who you are”… Big Freedia. Photograph: Bennett Raglin / Getty Images

Freedia went on to praise other artists for boosting LGBTQ + visibility, such as Mykki Blanco, who has worked with Madonna, Kanye West and Teyana Taylor. Other prime examples of prominent LGBTQ + MCs include Young MA from New York, who wowed fans with candid, straightforward songs about his muses, and MC Darkoo, born in Nigeria and raised in South London, who rapped “swing back and forth so bring your lady” on Bodysuit. Kevin Summary of beloved internet rap group Brockhampton is out and proud, and Grammy-winning Tyler, the creator often seems to direct romantic rhymes towards men. Backxwash – a Zambian-Canadian transgender rapper who won Canada’s Polaris Mercury Equivalent Prize in 2020 – brazenly tweeted: “DaBaby just emailed me and asked if we could do Stan at the Grammys” in reference to Eminem’s homophobia accusations by performing with Elton John.

And yet, for now, Lil Nas X remains the rare openly queer rapper with major crossover success. Others struggled, like iLoveMakonnen, who couldn’t match his 2014 hit assisted by Drake: “It’s hard to be in genres where being gay, or expressing your sexuality, is frowned upon,” he told the LA Times in 2019. “We’re finally starting to see queer black men celebrated in this genre. But it’s still a genre that has never been conducive to change. Bugz Gutta says he hopes “labels will now think other queer artists can do it like Lil Nas X did. But it’s hard when you have all this toxic talk about LGBTQ + people. Until then , he says rappers like him can use accessible technology and social media to “create our own stuff. Because we’re needed in straight spaces as workers, but they don’t see us as peers.”

Bugz Gutta says he is content to deal with marginalization and backlash for now, in the hope that “when six and seven year olds who are gay, bi and trans reach a certain age and want to be in the entertainment industry it will be different for them.

As Big Freedia says: “Of course we still have a long way to go, [but] it motivates me more to keep doing what I’m doing. I am delighted and honored to be a part of the change.

About Larry Struck

Larry Struck

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