Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gay Hip Hop?

Are some famous 'singers' and industry luminaries in the most homophobic area of popular culture about to come out? It seems ludicrous doesn't it, given the level of hatred built into the most commonly promoted form of hip hop, but Terrance Dean, a former executive at MTV is about to publish a book about the thriving, largely underground gay hip hop subculture, now he's come out.

There are signs that things are changing. Several leading rap artists, including top seller Kanye West, have admitted that homophobia is rampant in the industry and they have spoken out against it.

Dean, however, hopes that hip hop will soon put its homophobia behind it. He says the music changed dramatically from hip hop's roots in nightclubs and parties to a celebration of urban violence and gang life as 'gangsta rap' became the norm. Homophobia grew up alongside that musical shift as most successful artists used songs that idolised guns, drugs and crime. 'We need to get hip hop back to those party roots and away from the gangsta rap culture,' he said.

I really wish that were true, except there seems to be such a vested interest in promoting and maintaining this 'gangsta' culture, with all its components (like violent homophobia) that I can't honestly see that changing any time soon. For the life of me I don't understand why that culture isn't changed, but it would have to either change by government pressure - which wouldn't work - or would have to come from the ground up, and it's only gay campaigners who are doing that so far.

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