Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Guest Post: The Hip Hop Façade

Today's guest post comes from Bea at The Hardknock Radio. Thanks for being with us, Bea!!

The Hip Hop we know of nowadays has strayed far beyond its origins. Back in the day, it was all about getting people amped for parties as well as providing a forum for expression. Forty years after, what we see on TV, hear on the radio and read in magazines has become a distorted version of the fundamentals that had given voice to the urban youth.

The present image portrayed by Hip Hop is undeniably masculine. The majority of music videos depict men surrounded by a bevy of beautiful women, sipping champagne while sporting some of the most expensive cars available. The lyrics, too, emphasize how “gangster” the performers are, re-counting the many bullet wounds they received.

In reality, it has been said by insiders that some rappers, both male and female, actually lead a secret gay life. They hide it with their persona, often using their lyrics to discriminate against gays in order to divert attention from their “true selves”. Sad as it is, this situation with sexuality has become a major issue in the entertainment industry where there is massive homophobia.

Terrance Dean, an executive producer that used to work for MTV and BET, released a book 2 years ago entitled Hiding in Hip-Hop: On the Down Low. In it, he attempted to shed light on the fact that there actually were rappers hiding in the closet out of fear of what the industry might do to them if they ever came out. A pity because hip hop shouldn’t be that way.

From the looks of it, it seems like hip hop has become a facade of machismo when, in fact, one of its best features used to be self expression. For the male rappers, it does not come as a surprise that there isn’t a famous one who is openly gay. Men find it harder to deal with a gay public image, so they bury their real self in public denial. Aside from Man Parrish, who was among the few that set the path for Hip Hop, I don’t know anyone as big as Jay Z or lil Wayne who’ll admit they are gay.

In the meantime, people like Deadlee, Cazwell, Katastrophe and a lot more are here to stay. Although they are less famous, they are definitely realer than most and offer a voice to the minority, the GLBT.

Bea loves to write about hip hop and the history of rap music. Check her newest entry on the top 100 rap songs.


MissAttitude said...

Wow great food for thought. I honestly never really thought about the lack of GLBT rappers, but sadly I think it's because I've gotten used to it. I have noticed some slurs, but not too many from rappers I like.

Unfortunately, I agree with you. I don't think (at this moment) hip hop is ready for GLBT superstars. It is all about being hard; having lots of women, money and material goods. It's going to take awhile for the game to change. We're still trying to get female rappers respected. And yet I still love so much of it. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with rap.

Najela said...

I can't imagine having GLBT rappers either. I hate to say this, but I doubt many people would take them seriously. There's still a stigma about homosexuality in the black community. And let's be honest, most rap music thrives of male chauvinism and misogynist lyrics, exploitation of women. It portrays that "Angry black man" stereotype, which is a persona that people by into. It sells records. To see anything less than that would show African-Americans as being multi-faceted. Considering that most of the audience of hip-hop is Suburbia, it makes you wonder how a GBLT rapper would be taken in both the Black communities and the target audience.