By Michael Yu, Nov. 2, 2021
After rapper Lil Nas X made a lighthearted comment via Instagram on Oct. 23 about having a collaboration with fellow rapper Boosie BadAzz, the latter took to Twitter to launch a volatile tirade against Lil Nas X that contained vile homophobic slurs and even suggested that the rapper commit suicide. Unfortunately, this is not a new or surprising issue as the hip-hop community is one where homophobia and misogyny run rampant.
As both an ally of the LGBTQ+ community and a fan of hip-hop music, I am often disappointed at the homophobia that spews from the genre’s artists and fans. While hip-hop is a type of music that has promoted toxic masculinity since its inception, I believe that it is long past time for it to broaden its scope of inclusivity.
Unfortunately, BadAzz is not the only hip-hop artist to share his homophobic views. Eminem is one of the most recognizable names in hip-hop and has been using homophobic slurs throughout his entire career as a way to degrade people and make them seem weak.
When rapper DaBaby took to the stage at Rolling Loud Miami on July 25, the headlines afterward weren’t about his performance but rather the derogatory comments he made toward the LGBTQ+ community.
After Lil Nas X released the music video for his song, “Montero”, he shared that he did not want to come out as gay or speak on the homophobia in rap because of the potential dangers he could face and that he was harassed by a man who followed him in a car for several days, leading to him needing security.
Lil Nas X’s fears are not exaggerated as the late rapper XXTENTACION once bragged on a podcast about beating a gay man close to death for looking at him.
For such an influential genre of music, these actions are unacceptable. Hip-hop is one of the most listened to genres of music right now, particularly among young people and artists sharing these hateful beliefs will only perpetuate it to the next generation. In a 2005 interview with MTV, Kanye West said, “Hip-hop seemed like it was about fighting for your rights in the beginning, about speaking your mind and breaking down barriers or whatever, but everybody in hip-hop discriminates against gay people,” which is a statement that still rings true 16 years later.
Hip-hop is a genre that has promoted hypermasculinity and a rebellious attitude since its humble beginnings. With so many artists buying into the lifestyle of drugs, violence and women that hip-hop romanticizes, people who are openly gay are seen as a threat to that masculinity or an anomaly that they cannot understand.
Hip-hop’s fragile grasp on masculinity is often most clear when a rapper does something that is against what is considered the norm. When Kid Cudi wore a floral dress to “Saturday Night Live” and painted his nails, he faced hate for not adhering to what is considered traditionally masculine and eventually deactivated his Instagram account for a while due to the vitriol he received.
With the world becoming more and more progressive, some hip-hop artists cling on to their homophobic beliefs to flaunt their outdated ideals of masculinity.
However, I believe that hip-hop is taking steps into improving its homophobia problem. With chart toping and openly gay artists like Young Ma, Frank Ocean, Lil Nas X and Kevin Abstract along with the support from big name rappers like Jay-Z, Chance the Rapper and ASAP Rocky who speak up about the discrimination that homophobia causes, the landscape of hip-hop is slowly changing.
Hip-hop is slowly learning to confront its homophobic past, but there is still a long way to go until the issue of toxic masculinity and homophobia can be erased fully.
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