Hip-hop has consistently been seen as the sound and heartbeat of urban America, but since crossing over and becoming mainstream, many have wondered when it would evolve past its oft times violent and misogynistic lyrics. While some rappers have chosen to rhyme about other things besides slanging crack, murdering foes, and sleeping with a long line of faceless, nameless women, others (many popular ones) have continued to stick to the script.
Although the world around hip-hop changes, one glaring issue continues to remain embedded in the culture: homophobia.
Like any male-dominated industry, emcees are often praised for their hyper-masculinity that shuns and even degrades men they find “soft” or “feminine.” Despite rampant rumors that many of our favorite rappers are gay, no mainstream hip-hop artist has ever “come out” or even openly welcomed gays into the fold (conversely, rappers often gush about lesbians because it plays to the common male fantasy of watching two hot women hook up).
But a Texas rapper is hoping to change hip-hop’s homophobia and encourage more rappers to speak out.
After his best friend came out to him in college, Texas rapper Adair Lion, knew he wanted to use his music to speak out.
On his website, Adair Lion explains why he made the song, Ben:
I love hip-hop, it’s all I do, everyday all day. It’s the only way I stay alive. In the hip-hop world it’s not only accepted – but it’s actually cool to use terms like faggot, queer, homo and gay, in a derogatory manner. My best friend came out to me in college. Now you can see the dilemma. When I saw the “it get’s better” video it touched me and I wished that I could do something to help things get better. But if I was to say something like that it would be hip-hop suicide. All my idols and all the greatest rappers have used these words and really shunned the gay community away. As I was producing music for “Michael & Me” I came across the a cappella of “Ben” (Michael Jackson’s first solo number 1 hit). It amazed me at how perfectly the lyrics fit if one were to think of Ben as the gay community. I couldn’t deny the “it gets better hip-hop song” any longer… I had to act immediately.
Although I commend Adair Lion for wanting to speak out and get others in hip hop to do the same, I’m not sure his song will influence other more-established rappers to use their platforms for good. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
What do you think? Will this song cause other rappers to speak out against homophobia in hip-hop?