Jul 5, 2012

The One Where Frank Ocean Kills Hip Hop

This is a blog post directed at a specific demographic of people.  I've not really done that before, as my posts tend to be general audience posts.  I direct my thoughts out to everyone, whether they are of my point of view on things or not.

However, recent developments have caused me to take this unique stance.  I am directing this towards supposed hip hop fans who are upset over R&B singer Frank Ocean coming out about his bisexuality.  Now, in most normal demos this isn't an issue.  People hear that someone -- anyone -- decided to be honest with everyone and themselves about who they are, and there's no real reaction other than, "alright.  Good on them."

Because I think that the majority of people really don't have that big a problem with the LGBT community.  I think that it just seems that they do because that those who are all up in your face about how much they hate "The Gay", are extremely vocal.  So it makes their minority look like the majority.


Recently on The Best of The Left podcast, the creator Jay Tomlinson talked about a recent post on Buzzfeed that had a number of conservatives that were lamenting the SCOTUS rendering the Affordable Care Act aka "Obamacare" as constitutional, said that they were tired of a socialist health care system being foisted onto them, and so they were taking off for the more comfy confines of Canada.


And he talked about how while everyone was assuming that all Conservatives were idiots because they believed that moving to Canada to avoid a "socialist health care system", was a smart thing to do.  Tomlinson did some research and found that only about 20% or so were actually conservatives (with some of them joking) and the rest were either Liberals who were having a laugh, or was undetermined.

And his point was the whole business aspect of the Pareto Principle that "80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients".  In this sense, that people wanted to paint Conservatives as these out of touch idiots that don't know that moving to Canada for that reason is stupid, and yet it was only a small percentage that were.

And I think you can basically sum that up in these terms in saying that the 20% of the country that is virulently anti-LGBT and who are viciously homophobic make up 80% of what you see of this sentiment.  They are on all the news websites about what crazy thing they've said now, they're on MSNBC or Fox or CNN spouting their ignorance, so they are up in your face, so to speak, and it seems like the sentiment is more than it is.

There are always these wacked out "Pastors" talking about killing gay people and whatnot, but I don't think they accurately reflect the general opinion of the American public.   To be sure there are a LOT of discrimination against LGBT individuals, which has caused many suicides by LGBT youth.   Having said that, I think the number of people like that who are strongly anti-gay is more than 20%, but I don't think it's the majority. I could be wrong on that though.

Anyway, recently singer Frank Ocean, who you may have heard singing on the song "No Church in the Wild" by Jay Z & Kanye West (Non Hip Hop fans would maybe have heard him singing in the opening to the new Great Gatsby trailer which features portions of the song) came out and admitted his bisexuality, and claimed that his first love was a guy.

Now as I said, I think most people's reaction would be of "alright, good on you" for being brave enough to come out and be honest about you are. And there HAS been a lot of support for Ocean on his twitter and facebook page by a lot of his fans, yet there's also a lot of negativity and there will be a backlash against Ocean for his decision to go public with this.  For all the talk by some conservatives about how it's oh so chic to say you're gay, there are serious consequences to this kind of honesty, particularly for musicians.

Country singer Chely Wright chimed in on this and praised Ocean for doing this, but also warned that when she came out as a lesbian, her record sales dropped by a third (her estimate).   There are going to be a lot of people who supported him before, who won't support him now because he's an admitted bisexual.   And this is a major problem in hip hop and with the fans.

Now I'll be upfront here and admit that I'm not a fan of the crew that Ocean runs with.  These OFWGKTA or "Odd Future"  kids are not my cup of tea and I really just kind of shun everything they are associated with.   And the only thing I've heard Ocean on is the No Church in the Wild track.   But I can tell the dude is talented and can really sing.   Plus I love the obvious Sinatra reference in his name.

I've been intrigued but not surprised by some of the homophobic comments by some hip hop fans about this, and talking about how he should have just shut up and kept that to himself.  That his career is now over, because no male fans are going to want to listen to romantic songs thinking he's singing about a guy, and most ridiculous of all that, are you ready for this, HIP HOP IS DEAD.

Yes, folks, Hip Hop is Dead and Frank Ocean killed it with his honesty.  You may have foolishly thought that Hip Hop was already dead when Nas announced it on his album cover, even placing a flower on Hip Hop's grave.  You might have thought it died back when the Harlem Shake or Chicken Noodle Soup (with a Soda on the Side) came out.   You might have mistakenly believed it had died back when Nas did his ridiculous publicity stunt where he pretended he was going to name his album as the dreaded "N" word (only spelling it out) when everyone with a brain knew he wasn't going to do that.

The reasons you might have thought that, is because everytime there's something that happens that a fan doesn't like, that bon mot is thrown out to the masses.  "Hip Hop Lost!"  "Hip Hop Is Dead" Blah blah blah.

And my response to those comments and any hip hop fan who says that is shut the hell up.   How little do you think of a culture such as hip hop that you think it can be damaged and destroyed by an R&B singer coming out of the closet and being brutally honest about who he is?  Who refuses to lie about who he is all for your shaky grasp on your sexuality.   Who do you think you are that you are able to dictate just what someone else can say or do with their life?

So many LGBT youth are forced into silence about who they are, growing up with this bitter self hatred manifesting inside them, due to their family and often church telling them how "evil" they are.  This has led many youth to kill themselves after coming out and facing such a strong backlash and bullying.   Ocean has taken a giant step in his life and taken a chance that we are more evolved than that.

If you don't like Frank Ocean's decision to stand up and be real to himself, then you were never a fan to start with.  You simply cannot support someone, love their music and then when you find out they're gay, you suddenly don't like them anymore.  That just doesn't make sense.

When Elton John came out as a bisexual in the 70's to Rolling Stone magazine, did it suddenly nullify all his brilliant legendary music?   Did all those classic songs suddenly lose their power?

I get that with romantic music it's whole other situation, and you know if there are those who are uncomfortable with listening to love music that's aimed at men, alright I can kinda see where you're going there.  I don't think it's approaching the level of blasting them with homophobic slurs and claiming the death of an entire culture, but I can understand the hesitancy.

Hip Hop has long had a problem with homophobia and misogyny.  It's clear as day and embedded in a lot of your favorite hip hop songs and albums.   Ironically as Jeff Rosenthal of "It's The Real" pointed out the other day on twitter, the extremely homophobic Odd Future group now has TWO openly LGBT members in their ranks (With Syd the Kid being the other).



Odd Future has prided themselves on turning conventional wisdom on it's head, and basically thriving in contradictions, so perhaps this is only natural that while housing two openly LGBT members, they are comfortable throwing out hateful words like "Faggot" that have no positive meanings attached.  Perhaps they only see it as non comformity, and throwing everything back in the faces of authority that told them what they couldn't do.   "Can't say 'faggot'?  Well listen to THIS..."

Are they actually homophobic?  I don't think they are, I think they just get off on shocking people, and that's a very shocking word.  I don't think they care about the hateful history of it, I think they're just having fun and could care less if you're offended.  Actually I think they thrive on people being offended.

But Odd Future, as despicable as some may find them, seem to not really set off any alarm bells in many of the hip hop community because homophobia is well embraced.  When DJ Mister Cee, a FUCKING LEGEND in hip hop, was alleged to have been getting lip service from a transexual awhile back, people talked about his career being over, and he was a "faggot" and they'd never listen to his show again, and yada yada yada.

So for all those who talk about why should Frank have come out and said something, I only have to say to you that it's because of people like you.   It's because of people in hip hop who have spoken the loudest calling him a faggot and saying he should never be supported.   Who said that his bravery has doomed the entire culture of hip hop with three little words: I Am Bisexual.

And as long as there are people like you, there'll always be other LGBT people afraid to come out and be honest with themselves and the world.   And with someone as respected and talented and with a profile as high as Frank coming out to the world, perhaps that will boost the confidence of others.  And eventually it won't matter how much hate you spew.  You'll never be able to hold back people from being true to themselves.

And as I said before, if you refuse to support Frank now, you were never an actual fan of his.   Shame on you for your bigoted ways.  And shame on other high profile hip hop artists and producers for not coming out in support of Frank's decision.  Russell Simmons and Solange Knowles both supported him, but most hip hop artists have been stone cold silent on this matter, and that only fuels the bigotry of the fans.

Because hip hop fans associate hip hop with masculinity and see no way that a gay or bisexual man can be masculine.  They view them as all limp wristed "Nancy Boys", and that's sad.  Hopefully Frank is able to help people see past the stereotypes and cliches and into the heart and soul of a human being.

And for those who can't get past his having loved a man, and would have him bottle that up inside and keep it to himself, fuck you twice.

EDIT: here's The Young Turks discussing this situation.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post! I really like Frank Ocean and, as a gay man, his songs now have more meaning to me. I hope he can embrace his coming out and really put a dent into the homophobia surrounding hip hop.


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