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Dee



Joined: 19 Jul 2002
Posts: 7872
Homosexuals in hip hop  Reply with quote  

Gay Rappers: Too Real for Hip Hop
NY Times
by TOURE


It's Friday night in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, and Caushun is chilling on the third floor of his parents' brownstone. He is totally street: baggy jeans, wrist bands, fresh black Timberlands, a diamond stud in his left ear and a baseball cap (worn to the back, at an angle) with his name spray-painted across the bill in graffiti bubble letters. Caushun is a rapper, and he's getting ready to rhyme, but right now he's flipping through Vogue. He did Kimora Lee Simmons's hair for her photo shoot, and he wants to see how it turned out.

Caushun can get fierce with some hair. "I'm nasty with mine," he said.

He calls himself "the weave king," an extensions specialist. He's done hairdos for J-Lo and Sarah Michelle Gellar, and he's the stereotype of the celebrity hairdresser. He's a b-boy with a poodle named Wesley and an apartment with ornate pillows with silk flowers on them and beautiful vases filled with giant lilies. Caushun is a 25-year-old openly gay rapper from the same neighborhood as Biggie Smalls, with flippy wrists, a gay twang and a flow that is liquid and cool and ready for the big time. He wants to be hip-hop's homosexual Jackie Robinson.

Hip-hop is now as large a cultural stage as baseball was in the 50's, yet the mainstream is just as closed to gay rappers as the major leagues were to black men before Robinson. And, as with Robinson, for Caushun to break through could have a profound impact on how gay people are perceived throughout America.

"He's going to open up discussion about one of the last acceptable prejudices," said his manager, Ivan Matias. "With homosexuals having so much influence over hip-hop from behind the scenes, it's time that they had a voice." He was referring to the gay executives, managers, stylists and magazine editors in the music business.

Caushun said simply: "Look, I'm keepin' it real. Don't let me find out that I'm keepin' it too real for hip-hop. Should that be the name of my album? `Too Real for Hip-Hop'?"

Caushun recently signed with Baby Phat Records, and his debut album, "Shock and Awe," will come out at the end of June before Gay Pride Day. His self-confidence is so strong that he doesn't believe his being gay will keep him from selling a million records and having a video played on MTV 20 times a week — in other words, from becoming a star.

The hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons, whose wife, Kimora Lee, is the owner and chief executive of Baby Phat, knows it will be hard to make Caushun a star, but he's hopeful.

"Rap music is one of the most homophobic musics we know," Mr. Simmons said. "But he's dope and he's unique because of his perspective on the world. I can't imagine that people aren't going to buy it. You think women and gay men won't buy it? It's a huge possibility."

Caushun says there were labels that wanted to turn him into a house-music artist or into the RuPaul of hip-hop, but he said no. He wants to be mainstream: "You got Jay-Z talking about girls, girls, girls. Nelly, take your clothes off. They put their sexuality out front. What's the big deal if I put mine up front and come out open?"

He learned to rhyme just hanging around his neighborhood. He says he would sit up in his parents house with his boys, smoking weed, and someone would start to rhyme, it was no big deal. "I rhyme about everything," he said. "I just rhyme from a gay perspective. And it's not like it's a flamboyant gay perspective. It's the next-door neighbor. We saying the same thing. I just might put a little gay terminology in there."

He plucked a few grapes from a bowl on a table, walked over to his iMac and put on a beat. The beat's just O.K. and the hook is kind of corny, but Caushun is witty, and he surely can flow.

What is recognized as the first hip-hop record by an openly gay person was "Hip-Hop Don't Stop" by Man Parish, recorded in 1986. According to industry figures and Web sites devoted to the subject, there are now at least 40 to 50 openly gay rappers worldwide. Most don't use homosexuality in the campy, cartoonish way Caushun does. The Deep Dickollective is a loose assemblage of black men based in San Francisco. Two regular members are Juba Kalamka, who rhymes as Pointfivefag, and Tim'm West, a widely respected rapper. Mr. West, who is H.I.V.-positive, is also an AIDS activist and a schoolteacher.

Their 2002 debut album, "BourgieBohoPostPomoAfroHomo," deals with homosexuality less sensually than politically. In one rhyme Mr. West notes that the struggle going on inside his body is far more frightening than the street violence so often discussed in hip-hop. "I got T's and disease fightin' for possession of me / How am I gonna be scared of Glocks you pops, G?," he rhymes in "Rhyters Retreat."

The collective uses live instruments and plays with forms the way the experimental rappers the Roots do. Its rappers, or M.C.'s, rhyme with the intellectual revolutionary pose of Chuck D and the erudition of Cornel West. They feel that just being homosexual in hip-hop is a revolutionary act.

"We're just trying to shatter that whole notion that a real M.C. has to be straight," Tim'm West said. The collective's most recent album, "Them Niggas Done Went and Said," was released on April 19.

The collective and Caushun are part of an openly gay hip-hop world that is as varied as its straight counterpart. A rapper named Semaj from Brooklyn, who calls himself "a thug who happens to be homosexual," wants to appeal to the same people who love Jay-Z. Tori Fixx from Minneapolis calls himself a cross between the mellow rapper Q-Tip and Prince. Mr. Fixx released an album called "The Mochasutra." Miss Money, a rapper, singer and producer from Houston, has been called the gay Missy Elliot. MaaSen, from Sweden, rhymes in a high-energy style reminiscent of the Irish-American rap group House of Pain. Katey Red is a transvestite from New Orleans. There are others in England, Switzerland and France.

Many say the best openly gay M.C. is a short white lesbian named Cyryus (pronounced Serious). In 1998 she released an album called "The Lyricist," which recalls the moody, brooding, lyric-focused feel of the rap group Black Moon. On a song called "Y Us?" she rhymes about a lesbian friend who's pretending to be straight. "You doin ya own thing/ a portrait of success/ congratulations!/ You've been nominated best supporting actress!/ I certainly hope the enemy is impressed/ now I carry the struggle on my shoulders cuz I've inherited your stress."

But Cyryus hasn't been able to test her talent because just being gay in America is challenging enough.

"When I met her in 1996 she was like, `I got a record, I'm pushing it,' " said Dutchboy, a rapper in the group Rainbow Flava and a central figure in gay hip-hop. "She was playing all these shows at all these pride events. Then she had some family problems and had to go live with her mom for a while. Then she was like, I'm joining the army. She lasted about a year before she got thrown out on some don't ask, don't tell. Last I knew she was bouncing around the South." No one I spoke to knew how to find her.

Many in gay hip-hop feel it's inevitable that a gay rapper will gain mainstream success. They point to the once unthinkable success of a white rapper like Eminem. "It'll be like D-Day," Dutchboy said. "A lot of people will go down trying and then someone will make it off the beach."

The record business isn't so sure. Executives from major hip-hop labels, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was little chance of an openly gay rapper succeeding in the ultra-homophobic world of hip-hop. "A manager plays a record for us," one executive said, "and it's incredible, then the manager says, `Oh by the way, he's gay.' Everything stops. I really think we would probably tell him don't talk about it. Don't rock the boat."

Mr. Simmons says there is a chance, if a gay artist can find the right niche. "The hip-hop hardcore kid may think it's funny, may buy a single," Mr. Simmons said, "but he's not likely to buy an album because you're not speaking to a lifestyle that they're aspiring to. All these rappers are talking about a lifestyle that people relate to or aspire to. I don't think the average straight hip-hop consumer is going to buy it, but there's a lot of gay consumers buying rap records."

Of course, it would be tough for a gay rapper to get the discussion off of his sexuality and onto his rhymes. The cultural critic Michael Eric Dyson, who is a professor of African-American studies and religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, said, "Your flow would have to be so ridiculous that Biggie would be envious!"

Hip-hop has long ignored gay rappers and straight hip-hop stars who visit gay clubs, some of whom use homophobic language in their rhymes. "I haven't had sex with any famous rappers, but I know about some," Dutchboy said with a hint of mischief.

Coming out of the closet has its artistic advantages. Mr. Kalamka said that before he came out he was unable to freestyle because he was afraid of what he might say. Now he can. Hanifah Walidah, a San Francisco rapper, agreed that coming out gave her new strength. "I look at old videotapes of me performing when I was in the closet," Ms. Walidah said, "and I could see through my body language that my body was tight, that I was holding something in, I wasn't giving all that I had to give. Sometimes I look at these M.C.'s who I know are gay and they're off the hook and I'm like, damn, wonder what they'll be like when they come out? How dope will they be when they're truly free?"

Asked whether or not the hip-hop nation is ready for a gay M.C., Tim'm West said: "The question is irrelevant. The openly gay M.C. is here. Will you or will you not respond to it? If you don't, I'm still going to keep making rhymes. I'm not interested in whether or not America is ready for me. I'm here."


Touré, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, is the author of ``The Portable Promised Land,'' a collection of short stories.
Post Sun Apr 20, 2003 10:58 am
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hugh grants hooker
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damn. i never heard of any of the mentioned rappers.

anyone else heard of em? are any of them good?
Post Sun Apr 20, 2003 11:13 am
 
barlow



Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 1100
Location: Leeds, UK
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homosexuals are gay
Post Sun Apr 20, 2003 11:14 am
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amo1ne



Joined: 19 Jul 2002
Posts: 1455
Location: MTL514CANADA
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This is the absolute worst gimmick Ive heard yet. If your a homo, thats fine - but thats got nothing to do with hip hop. Be a dope mc and Ill support and buy the album regardless of what youre into - but dont be a gay mc - thats just a front to get some buzz or whatever cause without it, these would just be a bunch of fags with no skill and no backing or exposure to get shit done. this was a ridiculous article. there should be no prefix for emcee - just make substantial music or dont bother.
Post Sun Apr 20, 2003 11:14 am
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barlow



Joined: 30 Jun 2002
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Location: Leeds, UK
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sorry, couldn't help myself
Post Sun Apr 20, 2003 11:14 am
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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21596
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homophobia and sexism are still cool to perpetuate. Racism is a big no no!

ha.

I hope this spawns a slew of gay rappers out of Brooklyn. that would be lovely.
Post Sun Apr 20, 2003 11:24 am
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SergOne



Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 3884
Location: San Francisco
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yeah I remember hearing about some gay rappers a while back, rainbow warriors or some shit, and then deep dick collective are like some pissed off gay poets turned rappers....I did see this one dude out here in the bay, Plan B, he opened for grandbuffet and restiform bodies...the rapping was pretty shitty, but he was entertaining to watch, kid was running around in hot pants dancing in the crowd made me laugh, at first I wasn't sure if he was gay but then he had a line about "sucking dicks till the break of dawn"

whatever someones sexual preference doesn't matter to me, but I think its wack that these people are gonna push themselves as "gay rappers" they can't really avoid it though, since everyone will lump together like that, but it just like lumping all whiterappers with eminem and shit....whatever, I doubt its gonna get heard outside the gay community....it might not be pc but thats how the average hiphopper is, they won't be able to get past it
Post Sun Apr 20, 2003 11:25 am
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Nope



Joined: 23 Jan 2003
Posts: 1916
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Sage Francis wrote:


I hope this spawns a slew of gay rappers out of Brooklyn. that would be lovely.


actually, not specifically Brook-town, but ny has it's shares of gay rappers

this is nothing new

and they all play with the novelty of it to get attention

which is gay
Post Sun Apr 20, 2003 11:31 am
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pakilicious



Joined: 18 Feb 2003
Posts: 1093
Location: Earth
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His new album is called "Shock and Awe".... LoL He's riding bush now
Post Sun Apr 20, 2003 11:46 am
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Still Sick



Joined: 10 Nov 2002
Posts: 223
Location: Pittsburgh
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there already is a mainstream gay rapper. his name is ja rule.

but on the real, i am interested in hearin this dude rhyme. that would actually be cool to have a good gay rapper. i guess im just pessimistic but i doubt hes gonna really have much skill.
Post Sun Apr 20, 2003 11:56 am
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hugh grants hooker
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yea, i am scouring the net... but i cant find shit by any of those people.

i give up.
Post Sun Apr 20, 2003 11:59 am
 
SergOne



Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 3884
Location: San Francisco
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takin from HHI
For music samples and information
Cashun: www.thegayrapper.com
www.gayhiphop.com
www.deep-dickollective.com
Hanifah Walidah: www.trustlife.net
www.rainbowflava.com
Post Sun Apr 20, 2003 12:02 pm
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avatar



Joined: 16 Sep 2002
Posts: 3418
Location: Republic of Cascadia
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i thought i heard somewhere that kwame was homosexual. or maybe it was those stupid polka dots that lead to that (mis)information.
Post Sun Apr 20, 2003 12:07 pm
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ObliO



Joined: 20 Nov 2002
Posts: 766
Location: mexican war streets
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Yeah That sounds great...I know i just read a big huge thread on here the other day about how hip-hop is not based on color of skin...I wanna see how the homophobic mc's justify use of words like Faggot & homo...
Post Sun Apr 20, 2003 12:17 pm
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Royal-T



Joined: 04 Jul 2002
Posts: 657
Location: Canada
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They failed to mention Paul Barman as a Gay rapper, or maybe Paul Barman isn't good enough to be considered a rapper.

Last edited by Royal-T on Sun Apr 20, 2003 5:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
Post Sun Apr 20, 2003 12:41 pm
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