Homosexuality and the hip-hop industry have never been co-existent. Just a few short years ago, “no homo” was used by rappers to shrug off any idea that their actions or lyrics could be perceived as gay. Artists, such as Snoop Dogg, casually toss gay slurs in their lyrics, even Jay-Z in his song Run This Town helped to embrace the no homo trend.
However, 2012 was a year of shifting tides. In the November 2012 election, 3 states made history by endorsing gay marriage. The United States even elected their first openly gay senator. But politics wasn’t the only platform where homosexuals were beginning to be fully accepted. For the first time, a hip-hop artist came out as openly gay when Frank Ocean published an open letter to his fans citing a man as his first love.
What was shocking, however, wasn’t Ocean’s admission but the hip-hop community’s response. Gone, perhaps, are the days of homophobic actions and hateful slurs as many former homophobic artists have come out in support of Ocean’s statements. Tyler the Creator, an artist who had previously released an album that belittled gays, was one of Ocean’s biggest supporters.
But what exactly does this mean for homosexual artists? Do they have a place within the industry? Is the rising generation actually concerned with their personal lives or more focused on the music that they create? It seems that the latter may be the case.
Even D.M.C., who is skeptical of Ocean’s decision to come out in a culture characterized by homophobia, says that it isn’t the sexuality of the rapper that matters, but the quality of the rap. After all, hip-hop is just a reflection of what is going on in the world.
It’s a slow change for a once homophobic industry, but it’s undeniable that change is coming with a generation willing to embrace society’s differences. It seems like we’re finally coming to a point where the lifestyle of the one behind the mic doesn’t matter. It’s the quality of the music they make that truly defines them.