Homo Hop: A Subgenre of Hip Hop

Ibiyemi Adenuga

Homo Hop: A Subgenre of Hip Hop

Introduction

Hip Hop music was a form of expression and evaluating social concerns with its early forms. Hip Hop music consists of rapping to a rhythmic beat. Hip Hop is commonly used in place of rap music but rapping is not a required component. When Hip Hop first arrived as a genre of music, it was seen as a deviant form of expression. Its main components such as Emceeing, Dejaying, break dancing, and graffiti writing raised up concerns in certain neighborhoods and eventually led to a few laws being passed against this form. After some obstacles had been crossed, the subculture of Hip Hop was still being demonized and being blamed for acts of violence in urban areas. Although Hip Hop from certain perspectives is not to be chastised for its passion and its intensity, a lot of artists such as NWA and Ice-T are known for their lyrics that exude forcefulness. Hip Hop then transitioned into a stage of hyper masculinity and redirected its focus on the female figure. It was assumed all Hip Hop artists were male and heterosexual because of the pejorative terms used to describe the female body and their encounters. Then came the emergence of Homo-Hop. This group of LGBT artists and performers can be considered wayward based on the sole fact that they themselves emerged from a subculture. Homo Hop is against the homophobia and anti-gay lyrics Hip Hop often conveys.

Waywardness of Homo Hop: An Insider View

In Homo Hop, we see explicit lyrics or lyrics that would be deemed explicit by the society.  As noted in the introduction of this post, Homo Hop is against anti-gay lyrics and homophobia that Hip Hop often communicates. Eminem, a white Hip Hop artist released an album The Marshall Mathers LP. This was his third studio album and the first album that won the Grammy for Best Rap album in 2001. It was also nominated for album of the year. This album sold close to two million copies during its first week alone.  A song featured on this album called Marshall Mathers was the talk of the time. The single begins with an introduction by Eminem stating, “You know I just don’t get it, Last year I was nobody, this year I’m selling records, Now everybody wants to come around like I owe ’em something, The fuck you want from me 10 million dollars. Get the fuck out of here.” Eminem was referring to how no one essentially cared until this album sold millions. He also brings up the fact that his mother is suing him for defamation of character for $4 million dollars on how he depicted her in a song called, “My name is”. This album received great accolade and it makes one wonder why. In the single Marshall Mathers, Eminem raps about a group Insane Clown Posse (ICP) that released a dis-tape about him and Eminem then refers to them as “Faggot 2 Dope and Silent Gay”.  Their stage names are really Shaggy 2 Dope and Silent J. He poses them as the uncomplimentary term “faggots” because in the Hip Hop community that is the worst thing someone can be called. The term is demeaning and Hip Hop has claimed such a masculine persona. Therefore being a “faggot” is ultimately career ending. Producers will not want to associate with the artist because of fear of reaching a large fan base. Understanding that the Hip Hop culture is a subculture, apart from mainstream, gives more validity to Homo Hop being wayward. Insane Clown Posse (Shaggy 2 Dope and Silent J) is a Hip Hop duo and they wear clown makeup. Eminem is obviously commenting on this in his song and he is challenging their manliness.

The volume Home Girls Make Some noise: Hip Hop Feminism Anthology includes an essay by Andreana Clay titled: “I Used to be scared of the Dick: Queer Women of Color and Hip Hop Masculinity.” In her essay, Clay expresses the difficulties black women encounter as lesbians.  She tells a story about a female that “came out” to a group of males and that led to her being murdered. Furthermore she describes how it is safe for women in queer spaces. She states:

“In these all female, queer club spaces, the decoding of black male masculinity is exciting, normalized and even safe. First these displays can demonstrate what queer women do and whom we do it with. Second, there isn’t the fear of violence or being overpowered that may be associated with mixed, straight clubs” (157-158).

Clay expresses in her essay exactly what African American females face going to a straight club where all the music is derogatory towards those of her kind (Lesbians and Gay men). It isn’t a safe haven when she steps foot in these clubs but at the queer club spaces, she can roam around and see different people who put on the persona of the males at the straight clubs but they have her interest at heart and are not ferocious. Homo Hop is being played at the club. Therefore there isn’t any music that would make one feel uncomfortable about their sexual preference like Hip Hop has done for many because of its anti-gay and homophobic lyrics.

Homo Hop is self-willed. Being wayward is the opposite of what is desired and expected. Homo Hop being derived from Hip Hop is wayward because Hip Hop is homophobic, has ulterior motives with its deliverance, and can be classified as misogynistic. Homo Hop is not compliant to the genre of Hip Hop. It illustrates the desire to escape normative behavior. The artists of Homo Hop are of LGBT but their audiences are diverse. Those who believe Hip Hop music to be derogatory and belittling to women and those who deviate from the norm, listen to Homo Hop. In the book Black Cultural Traffic: Crossroads in Global Performance and Popular Culture, Tim’m T. West, who is the founder of the group Deep Dickollective, writes about what Homo Hop is and exactly what it exhibits. In his essay, “Keepin’ it Real: Disidentification and its Discontents,” he writes,

“The burgeoning Hip Hop subculture Homo Hop, is the inevitable outgrowth of a tension between Hip Hop’s Greatest taboo and the figurative dis/ease experienced by its “homosexual” disciples.  Homo Hop has an origin narrative of its own: romantic and revolutionary, just like the origin narrative of hip hop, the global and cultural movement out of which it was born” (162-163).

In this essay he examines how Hip Hop had to have been established for Homo Hop to derive from it. Essentially he says one cannot know darkness until they see the light. From his essay he establishes that gay black rappers and artists hold some sort of double-edged sword and this sword is what could make or break them and sometimes even both. He states that gay artists disidentify with Hip Hop, which is a “cultural medium that has been so central to their formation as black folk in America” (West, 163).

This subgenre expresses its identification with Hip Hop but it exhibits disidentifaction for the sole purpose of the notion it connotes to its listeners and soon to be listeners. Homo Hop had the PEACEOUT World Homo Hop festivals for those who support and want a safe space to perform and listen. The festival has been an annual festival held in Oakland, California.

Hiding in Hip Hop

In Terrance Dean’s, Hiding in Hip Hop: On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry, he writes, “in the world if hip hop, the more adversity in ones life, the more street credibility earned… I’d been to prison so surely I would be accepted.” He wants to be a hip hop artist but his sexual preference suggests against it because it would be difficult for the industry to accept him. This then cause him to be “on the down low” – not outing his sexual preference

This video, archived at Queerphonic, discusses the issues around homo hop being recorded and sold to the public. The video begins with a voicemail stating, “your song is good but it’s really explicit.” Hip hop itself has been criticized for being overly explicit therefore critiquing homo hop as such carries a hypocritical double standard.

The documentary Pick up the Mic features explosive public performances with homo hop’s most important artists. It explores the underground music as a movement and its effect on the mainstream. Pick up the Mic goes against hip hops norm of homophobic attributes.

Suggested Readings/Videos:

Pick Up the Mic- Film

Terrance Dean, Hiding in Hip Hop: On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry (2009).

Queerphonics: http://queerphonics.tumblr.com/post/5956516036/gay-hip-hop-artist-in-nyc-cycy-talks-about-the

Clay, Andreana. 2007. “’I Used to be Scared of the Dick’: Queer Women of Color, Hip Hop, and Black Masculinity.” Pp. 149-165 in Home Girls Make Some Noise!: Hip-Hop Feminism Anthology. G. D. Pough, E. Richardson, A. Durham, and R.
Raimist, editors. Monroe, CA: Parker Publishing

Black Cultural Traffic: Crossroads in Global Performance and Popular Culture, Tim’m West, Keepin it Real.

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This entry was posted by iadenuga.

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