Hip Hop’s stance on homosexuality is ever-evolving, with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ recent performance of “Same Love” at the MTV Video Music Awards as an example.
In a recent interview with Mother Jones, Talib Kweli spoke on Hip Hop’s growing acceptance of Homosexuality. “Homosexuality in Hip Hop is an extension of homosexuality in the black community,” he explained. “The black community is very, very conservative when it comes to homosexuality, and I don’t mean conservative in the good way, like we’re saving money. I mean very intolerant. That’s how it’s always been.”
Despite such intolerance, Kweli sees progress. “I do see a new generation, partly because of the internet and technology, embracing it. I see young black boys, young black women in the hood embracing homosexuality in ways they never would’ve when I was younger. When I was a teenager, the way some of these kids out here be actively gay, it would have been ridiculed in the hood. And now the hood is a bit more accepting. Begrudgingly accepting, but definitely more accepting than 20 years ago when I was a little kid. That doesn’t mean that anybody should stop fighting for equality just because people are begrudgingly a little more accepting. Now people won’t beat you up; they might just talk behind your back.”
The Brooklyn emcee proposed one way in which homosexuality could be accepted in Hip Hop, paralleling it with another unlikely Rap success story. “But as far as Hip Hop, it’s real simple. There just needs to be a gay rapper—he doesn’t have to be flamboyant, just a rapper who identifies as gay—who’s better than everybody. Unfortunately Hip Hop is so competitive that in order for fringe groups to get in, you gotta be better than whoever’s the best. So before Eminem, the idea that there would be a white rapper that anybody would really check for was fantastic or amazing or impossible. You had people like 3rd Bass and other people came through, and people respected them for their dedication to Hip Hop. But people didn’t really take white rappers seriously until Eminem, because he was better than everybody. Like female emcees, you need to be like Lauryn Hill or Nicki Minaj or killing everything before somebody takes you seriously.”
Kweli touched on another sensitive subject: New York’s controversial stop and frisk laws, which have given police extensive latitude in searching criminal suspects.
“That’s all propaganda and it’s bullshit,” said Talib in response to New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s suggestion that people in minority communities want more stop and frisk. “No one likes to be treated like that. For him to make that statement is ignorant. What it’s saying is that because you’re poor, because you live in a neighborhood that deals with oppressed conditions, you deserve to be treated like a criminal. In our Constitution it says you have the right to live without illegal search and seizure. What else is stop and frisk? These neighborhoods are unsafe not because there’s not enough cops illegally frisking people. They’re not safe because of economic conditions. They’re not safe because of all types of things in the government that people like Bloomberg and Ray Kelly should be looking to fix instead of randomly searching kids in the hood. If you go to a college campus and you do stop and frisk, you’re going to find a lot of drugs there, too.”
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