I hate to say I was right and I told you so, but, I WAS RIGHT!!! I TOLD YOU SO!!!
Two weeks ago I wrote an opinion piece for Colorlines.com about the fact that the hip-hop industry was going to change its tune around the place of queer artists within it, but that change, as 50 Cent noted, would likely be due to market forces of declining record sales and the way the gay consumer has become increasingly important market niche in global capitalism.
So last night at the famous Coachella Music Festival, up-and-coming hip-hop artist Lil B from Berkeley, California announced that he’s calling his upcoming album I’m Gay during his set. He stated (you can also watch in the video below):
“I’m gonna do the most controversial thing in hip-hop. Ya’ll heard it first. And I’mma just show you that words don’t mean s**t. I’mma make an album called ‘I’m Gay,’ right. Now I’mma tell you why I’m the first person to do it in hip-hop and why you’re the first people to know my reasons. I’m just gonna tell you. So many people be worried about what people mean and definitions of words and s**t… Now I like women, I love women, you feel me. But within yourselves, no matter what you do, it doesn’t matter, it’s like live life. You’ve only got one life to live. Be happy.”
Is Lil B coming out? Or is he using this as a way of tapping the gay market, and letting straight people know he’s not a homophobe? It’s worth noting he has a song called “Ellen Defgeners” where he’s rhyming about being famous and on television like Ellen Degeneres–no real mention of her sexuality but naming this white lesbian TV host as the standard of celebrity. Coachella is a great venue to do so, and get tons of publicity. The music festival has become an increasingly important venue for underground artists (so much so that mainstream artists like Prince, Kanye West and Rihanna have now all played there) to break into the mainstream, much like South By Southwest, if not bigger.
Now the question I have is when is the sexism and misogyny gonna go away in hip-hop? Will there ever be a reason, market forces or otherwise? Here’s a music video from Lil B…and if these 2009 lyrics are any indication (and I want to say I don’t mind overtly sexual lyrics or cursing in music, I wish I saw more straight men artist figure out how to rap about sex without being misogynist)…we have a long way to go…
UPDATE: Via Colorlines: Another article about Lil B.