Offset, from left, Quavo and Takeoff, of Migos, arrive at the U.S. premiere of "Bright" at the Regency Village Theatre. Picture: AP
Offset, from left, Quavo and Takeoff, of Migos, arrive at the U.S. premiere of "Bright" at the Regency Village Theatre. Picture: AP

Why can’t hip hop leave homophobia in the past?

By Jamal Grootboom Time of article published Jan 30, 2018

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“I can not vibe with queers” - Offset. It’s 2018 and rappers are still spewing homophobia and giving half-hearted apologies after Black Twitter drags them claiming it was a lack of knowledge.

Earlier this month, YFN Lucci released 'Boss Life' featuring the Migos member Offset where he claims to not vibe with queers. Once the video clip was posted online the internet wasted no time in calling the popular rapper out for his homophobia.

READ: Cardi B and Offset put wedding planning on hold

Offset then proceeded to back-pedal and explain in a spelling and grammatical error-filled Instagram Story what he thought “queer” meant. Even going so far as to post the Google definition but neglected to expand the definition which states it is a term used for LGBTQI people too.

I didn’t write the line about gay people. I have said before since these issues before that I got love for all people. My passion for fashion has lead me to a lot of gay people around me who I have mad respect for and we are very cool so I’m not in a place where I’m hating like that. When I wrote that I was thinking of words that could rhyme with the others (here, lear, solitaire, bear) and I saw this definition about her having a queer feeling she was being watched and it fit what I was thinking about a stalker creepy paparazzi situation. To me that “queer” I don’t mean someone who’s gay. I mean lame people who film you, post it and stalk you. Lingo that means strange or odd. I M S O R R Y I A P O L O G I Z E I’m offended I offended anybody

A post shared by OFFSET (@offsetyrn) on

More specifically, the definition he used to defend his homophobia is outdated and a simple act of asking one of the queer people who are around him would have advised him to use it.

Then his fiancée, hip hop’s new it girl Cardi B, jumped in to defend him, saying the LGBTQI community needs to “educate people” and not “bash them” and “label them something they [are] not”.

Now let’s stop right there. In 2018 people expect the rest of us to teach them when queer visibility is at its height and now more than ever pop culture is gay culture.

Homophobia in hip hop is nothing new with artists such as 50 Cent, Notorious BIG, Nas, Eminem and recently Ja Rule calling 50 Cent a “power bottom”. Slim Shady also famously used a homophobic slur in one of Nicki Minaj’s highly praised tracks Roman’s Revenge, where Slim Shady raps that “all you lil’ f*gg**s can suck it - No homo”.

In Minaj’s instance and Cardi B’s reaction, it finds women in hip hop who have large gay fan bases enabling the men around with their problematic views.

 What really makes Offset’s comments puzzling is the fact he and his two bandmates wear designer clothing which is designed and made by gay people. So if you don’t “vibe with queers” why do you keep on using their services and products? South African hip hop is not excluded from this.

They also use terms such as “no homo” and use gay as a slur. Even though their girlfriends and wives all have gay people doing their hair, make-up and styling them. Die Antwoord, who are problematic for several reasons, also once called Drake “a f*gg*t” and received little backlash for their homophobia.

Most of this cognitive dissonance stems from men in hip hop not understanding how discrimination works. You regularly see on social media how cisgender heterosexual men of colour complain that queer is “too sensitive” and people just want to be offended for the sake of being offended. 

But when a racist white person comments on racism, in the same way, they’ll be the first people to jump and read them for filth. Why is it then so difficult for them to understand that it’s the same thing? The answer: Misogyny and patriarchy. These two things have been prevalent within Hip Hop from its inception.

A YouTube show, The Grapevine TV with a mostly African American panel have several episodes where they discussed homophobia in the black community and have touched on its presence in hip hop. 

One of the panellists Uchechi Chinyere made a great statement as to why this cognitive dissonance happens when it comes to straight men of colour. “Black men don’t want liberation they want an exchange of power from white supremacy and they don’t understand that if all of us ain’t liberated then none of us are liberated.”

The hip hop community needs to do better and stop enabling men and women from perpetuating and co-signing homophobia.

Pop culture is gay culture and if you can’t shape up and get with the times it’s time for you to “sashay away”.

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