Hip-hop/Spirituality/Freethinking. Speaking for all underdogs!
Open Letter to Frank Ocean: You Are Not Alone!
By Khalil Amani
Dear Mr. Frank Ocean,
My name is Khalil Amani. Nationally and internationally I’m known as gay hip-hop’s “straight spiritual advisor”—that straight dude who beez big-uppin’ gay rappers—and to some, that faggot lover. You might’ve come across my work in DJ Kayslay’s Straight Stuntin Magazine. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? I’m Google-able.
(Khalil Amani, self-proclaimed "Spiritual Advisor to Gay Hip-Hop")
With all the “Open Letters” to you, regarding your very prolific and poetic “coming out” (as it has been called), I thought I’d add my two cents to the conversation. I agree with every positive thing everyone has written—from yo’ mama to Beyoncé to Russell Simmons to bell hooks to Terrance Dean to gay rapper/activist Tim’m West. Indeed, you are standing on your own brave truth in this narrow-minded hip-hop/R&B world.
Little did you know that revealing your sexuality would have such far-reaching implications (or maybe you did know!). You, Frank Ocean are the hope of every gay rapper/gay artist trying to cross that gulf of mainstream hip-hop homophobia. I don’t know who’s been in your ear or what you know about gay artists—specifically gay/lesbian rappers and I have not read that you are aware of any. Neither have I read anything public from you, save a snippet or two on Twitter hinting at this matter.
So! With all due respect I want you to know a few things about gays doing hip-hop—gay rappers and the struggle/Movement that has been ongoing while you were yet a snotty-nose bebe kid. You need to know—in the words of Michael Jackson—that—“You are not alone!”
Outwardly, openly gay rappers have been steadily banging on hip-hop’s mainstream door for some time and while it is true that not every gay rapper seeks mainstream attention—every gay rapper wants his or her music to be heard, else why the fuck would they be making it? It is also true that not every gay rapper considers this a “movement.” As with the straight hip-hop world, there are some selfish, self-absorbed gay rappers that give less than two-shits about the power in numbers game and “unity in the community.” They want in da game and middle-finger to the next man!
But these openly gay/lesbian/transgendered rappers that I speak of are the real heroes of this on-going Movement to tear down the walls of hip-hop homophobia—they’re doing it! Been doing it! And gonna keep on doing it! Don’t think for a second that you are all alone, should you care to join the battle for the total liberation of hip-hop. And don’t let the media gas you up as “the first” gay anything! At best, you are the first gay/BI R&B/hip-hopster of note—someone who has his metatarsals and phalanges feet and hands deep in the ass of this music industry.
But I must say. I find your “Trojan Horse” strategy exhilarating! You kept your sexuality a secret, showed these heads what it do, got your respect by working with some of the biggest names in the business and then, through your actions said, “My first love was a man! Now what the fuck you gonna do about it?”Indeed, you Trojan-Horsed da game! LOL. Now that’s keepin’ it hip-hop and then some!
But again, you are not alone!
The Gay or Out Hip-Hop Movement starts with a group from the Bay area called Deep Dickollective (Yes! And they have a Wikipedia entry). They were among the first to seriously challenge hip-hop’s “Good ol’ boy” system of heterosexual hip-hop/rap. Aesthetically, they weren’t your stereotypical feminine-acting gay dudes rapping about sucking dick 24/7 (not that I’m against anyone expressing their sexual side on record).They are to the Gay/Out hip-hop Movement what Afrika Bambaataa and KRS-One is to straight heads—poor righteous teachers of the UN-righteous faith of hip-hop.
You are not alone!
And from Deep Dickollective sprang a wealth of gay and lesbian artists, as documented in Alex Hinton’s documentary Pic Up The Mic—an extraordinary exploratory look at the advent of gay hip-hop. They and their contributions to the genre are too numerous to name.
You are not alone!
The Gay/Out hip-hop Movement has its voices of rebellion and activism. Take gay rapper Deadlee for example; a Blatino whose put together a gay rapper tour in the past, appeared in numerous news outlets, featured on the Howard Stern Show and has been in the forefront of unifying gay rap voices. Mr. Ocean, like you, Deadlee dealt with his “coming out” in his critically acclaimed song/video “Good Soldier II”(YouTube it!), which has been aired many times on MTV’s Logo channel.
You are not alone!
And there are many, many others, again, too numerous to name them all—from Prince Cat-Eyez, (reppin’ for the “fems”) to Foxxjazell (a transgendered rapper whose videos have been on MTV’s Logo as well as the hood site Worldstarhiphop.com) to Bone Intell (a gay rapper who would fit neatly into any Rick Ross song/video and you’d never think “gay”) to Verbal Science, (a gay rapper who put out a video called “Whatchu Ridin’ On?” ft. ex-Diddy “Making the Band” Choppa City with cameos from Paul Wall, Tony Yayo, T-Pain, and Mike Jones) to Worldstarhiphop sensation Sissy Rich (who has more Twitter followers than many mainstream rappers—227,000+) to one, if not gay hip-hop’s best rhyme-spitter, Last Offence aka Lasto (a wordsmith who would wreak havoc on your favorite rapper’s record!)@Princecateyez @Foxxjazell @boneintell @verbalscience @Sissyrichonline @LastO
You are not alone!
Before President Obama cosigned same-sex marriage—before Kanye West spoke out against homophobia in Madison Square Garden—before Jay-Z’s nice approval of gay rights—before Vladtv.com was airing your favorite rapper’s positive views on gays doing hip-hop—before all of them Negroes—I, Khalil Amani was the only straight dude (thanks to gay rapper Deadlee) in hip-hop that was sounding the trumpet of tolerance and actively working towards the day when a gay rapper would be heard in mainstream. I know not another! I blogged at Hoodgrownonline.com as “Ya Gay Friend’s Favorite Straight Friend”where I was called “faggot” so much that I considered changing my name to “Khalil Gaymani.”
My resolve lead me to penning the first book on hip-hop homophobia and introduce gay rappers to the world; a book entitled Hip-Hop Homophobes: Origin & Attitudes Towards Gay & Lesbians in Hip-Hop Culture; As Perpetuated by Rappers, Thugs, Athletes, Reggae Rastas & Religionists; Essays on the 3,000 Year Old Polemic Against Homosexuality; A Religious Hoax!(iuniverse.com ’07)
I wrote a fucking mouthful! LOL!
Back-in-the-day, I hounded the MySpace blogosphere and would not be denied and then, alas! Someone heard me! Someone whose street credibility is unquestioned—someone whose hip-hop acumen in unparalleled—someone who has his ear to the street; the god DJ Kayslay, The Drama King—The Gatekeeper of all things hip-hop—of New York City Hot 97 and Sirius Satellite Radio—he heard me! I’m sure you know (of) him Mr. Ocean.
Three years ago DJ Kayslay had the audacity, yea, the nerve, moreover the balls—the unmitigated gall to let me write an article about the gay hip-hop movement for his magazine, Straight Stuntin Magazine called, “Why Gay Hip-Hop/Rap?” And then, with the straight face of poker champion Doyle Brunson—DJ Kayslay went the extra mile and put my name and the title of the article on the front fucking cover! This was before it was chic to align one’s self with any gayness!
But Kayslay wasn’t done just yet! Right when I thought he’d done enough, what did he do next? Invited five gay rappers and myself to appear on his Streetsweeper Sirius Satelliteradio show and “show & prove” whether they could rap. Again, this was before famous rappers were cosigning gay heads right to be heard.
(Khalil Amani & DJ Kayslay with gay rappers on radio in New York)
This is just what’s been going on since I discovered the gay hip-hop movement in the last five years. Internet sites like Outhiphop.com, Gayhiphop.com, Gaymusicrevolution.com, K-Zone187 and Da Doo Dirty Show hostedby DJ Baker have kept the gay rap community alive and together.
There is a “Summum Bonum”—a Greater Good at stake here. I wrote all of this to say this Mr. Ocean; we welcome you to the table. We do understand if you don’t wanna sit down with us. We respect that! Your “coming out” may have been for personal reasons, not to help change the world. That is your absolute right. I recognize that you have a shitload of upcoming performances, interviews and recording sessions (not to mention a fucking personal life!), but, it is my hope that you will reach back and grab by the balls (figuratively speaking), one or more of your gay rapper comrades, and drag them into mainstream consciousness by singing a hook on their record or producing a beat for them or giving a heavy cosign. Is that asking too much? Onward we trod through unfamiliar territory…
Sincerely yours in hip-hop,
Follow Khalil Amani on Twitter @khalilamani, Facebook, MySpace, The Khalil Amani Reader (Speaking for all Underdogs!) @ www.khalilamani.ning.com
"I do not remember our ever constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say offensive things towards homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should make sure that women do not speak out about their own particular kind of oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite: we say that we recognize the women’s right to be free. We have not said much about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual movement because it is a real thing. And I know through reading, and through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the most oppressed people in the society."
--Huey P. Newton, Leader of the Black Panther Party on homosexuality