Hip-hop/Spirituality/Freethinking. Speaking for all underdogs!
…When Gayness Wasn’t So Cool!
By Khalil Amani
I remember when a (straight) hip-hop nigga couldn’t cosign any form of gayness. For doing so was a death-wish to one’s rap career. Now, every rapper and his mama be on Vladtv.com cosignin’ gayness. It’s become so matter-of-factly. Like, niggas are comfortable with that shit! Fat Joe, Maino, Nore—they say they’ve probably done music with a gay rapper and that there is a “Gay Mafia” working behind the scenes. Some rappers have gone so far as to shed their ghetto-gangsta personas and don everything from tight-ass jeans to women’s “jeggings” and Ugg boots! (ala Lil Wayne) Truly, a paradigm-shift in rapper accoutrement is taking place. Hip-hop is exploring its effeminate and androgynous side.
Yet, before Frank Ocean’s very timely “coming out” —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 your favorite rappers were giving the thumbs up to gay heads—before all these Negroes, there were only three (straight) people (besides myself!) who weren’t afraid to put the homosexual conversation on hip-hop’s overtly heterosexual table—a producer, magazine owner, and Internet site host named Chris “Cartel” English @ Hoodgrownonline.com, Bay Area journalist, radio personality, activist and hip-hop aficionado Davey D. @Daveyd.com and The Drama King, the Gatekeeper of all things hip-hop; the god DJ Kayslay! I dare you to find another pre-2009.
(Chris "Cartel" English owner of Hoodgrownonline.com)
In my warped mind, I’d like to think that I had a hand in this gay-friendly shift. Way back in 2007 I started blogging as “Ya Gay Friend’s Favorite Straight Friend” (Hoodgrownonline.com)—I vividly remember when it wasn’t cool to talk about gayness or anything related to gayness! But being the rabble-rouser that I am, I started blogging on some pro-gay rapper shit. (And I went hard!—pause) Niggas were hatin’ on me, calling me a faggot, D/L and tryna kill my blogging career before it had a chance to swim. Even XXL Magazine’s Byron Crawford (Bol) went at me five or six blogs deep, trying to assassinate my character, intimating that I was, indeed, gay. What a silly notion!
(Davey D. owner of Daveyd.com)
Back then, there weren’t any (straight) hip-hop sites dealing with the gay question! In essence, it was revolutionary what Hoodgrownonline.com and its owner Chris “Cartel” English and Davey D. were doing—highly controversial. Over at Daveyd.com, Davey D was all about free-thought in hip-hop, and in doing so, ran my over-the-top piece "Why Gay Hip-Hop/Rap?" A changing of the guard, a paradigm-shift in hip-hop’s thinking was evolving.
I remember—when gayness wasn’t so cool!
Back-in-da-day I was all over Myspace posting blogs about gay rappers and their quest to join their straight counterparts in mainstream. One real dude, whose street-cred is solid, his music game is on point, who's universally respected by rappers and industry folk alike read my blog on gay rappers and was brave enough to come holla at a nigga, albeit he was not cosigning, affirming or approving of my message of inclusion—DJ Kayslay! This was before any of the current cosignage that’s going on today. We talking 2009.
(DJ Kayslay, The Gatekeeper of All Things Hip-Hop!)
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! Again, and with major historical redundancy—2009!
(DJ Kayslay's Magazine Straight Stuntin Magazine)
Oh! 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 Satellite radio show and “show & prove” whether they could rap.
(DJ Kayslay & Khalil Amani with 5 Gay Rappers on radio)
I’d like to think that I’m the reason Frank Ocean came out the closet. It may be a grandiose claim, but hey, it helps me sleep at night—knowing that my work is not in vain. I’d like to think that I set in motion the wheels of inclusion through vehicles such as Hoodgrown and Daveyd.com and Straight Stuntin Magazine and my essays and blogs and a book on gay rappers (Hip-Hop Homophobes... iuniverse.com ’07). I’d like to think that I helped create a climate whereby the Frank Oceans of the world feel comfortable enough to really be who they are and make great music, regardless of their sexual orientation, because, at the end of the day, it’s about the music!
DJ Kayslay, Davey D and Chris Cartel English—whether they agree or disagree on the gay hip-hop question at least have the foresight and intestinal fortitude to have a conversation on the subject through me. They let me write what I gotta write! They ain’t scurrred that a nigga’s gonna call them gay! They ain’t sheep! They ain’t got a herd-mentality like these other hip-hop sites and hip-hop magazines, who, by now have heard about the straight nigga reppin’ for gay rappers (Me, motherfucker!), but won’t give me the time of day! I've been in The Los Angeles Times and Spin Magazine behind this gay rapper stuff, but can't get in a foot-note in XXL, Vibe or The Source! I talk to these Negroes on Twitter and send them blogs when this gay shit rears its head, but they are mum-mouthed at a nigga! Allhiphop.com should rename themselves Mosthiphop.com.
But I'm good though, because I remember a time when gayness wasn't so cool!
That’s why I respect and have mad-love for these three brothas, DJ Kayslay, Davey D. and Cartel. The rest of you supposed “Bible of the Streets” and “CNN of the Hoods” journalists, which are supposed to be reppin’ the body of Hip-Hop are treating the gay question just like mainstream music treated your ass in its infancy—like you just don’t effin’ matter! Your aloofness has been duly noted and your arrogance, peeped.
The hand of time cannot be rolled back. The cat’s out the bag—a can of worms has been opened and a new hip-hop era is upon us. President Obama is ushering in a New World Order, which is extended to our gay countrymen and hip-hop must follow suit or become extinct like the dinosaur. All of your religious arguments are stupid, juvenile and asinine—they are devoid of any substantive rigor and based on archaic mythology.
Gay people are all right, but I remember a time—when gayness wasn’t so cool!