The Bar Loves Homo Hop
|Georgian rapper Rae Tyson, a.k.a. "Look Alive"|
The Bar Loves God-des and She
Race + Hip-Hop + LGBT Equality: On Macklemore’s White Straight Privilege
From Racialicious (linked above):
Much of the nation was introduced to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis this past weekend, thanks to their appearance on Saturday Night Live, a major accomplishment and promotional tool for any musical artist. Considering the indie-rap duo’s already growing popularity with their chart-topper and multi-platinum seller, “Thrift Shop,” it is important to examine the impact of their success.Melange Lavonne, "Gay Bash"
Macklemore has already been touted by several media outlets as the progressive voice on gay rights in hip-hop since the release of “Same Love,” his second single to chart on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song, which peaked at No. 89 last week, tries to tackle the topic of gay marriage and homophobia in media and US culture, focusing specifically on hip-hop with lyrics such as, “if I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me.”
Though Macklemore is not gay, “Same Love” has gotten many accolades from fellow straight supporters, as well as members of the gay community. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed it on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where DeGeneres introduced them by saying, “Here’s why you need to care about our next guest. No other artists in hip-hop history have ever taken a stand defending marriage equality the way they have.”
But, how can this be the case when there is already an entire genre, Homo Hop, comprised solely of queer hip-hop artists? Whether it is intentional or not, Macklemore has become the voice of a community to which he doesn’t belong in a genre that already has a queer presence waiting to be heard by mainstream audiences.
We should also examine the song’s hook, performed by lesbian singer-songwriter Mary Lambert. Lambert first gained notoriety as a spoken-word artist, and it is important to remember that spoken word, like hip-hop, is rooted in Black culture. They are both a response to white supremacy.
However, Lambert, like Macklemore and Lewis, is a white artist. This begs the question: what does it mean to have three white people–two of whom are straight–be the beacon of gay rights in hip-hop?
In “Same Love,” Macklemore does not address these concerns. Instead, he raps about hip-hop as if it were his. The song lyrics even take it a step further by conflating Black civil rights and gay rights, which are both about identities he does not possess and oppressions he does not experience...
....is it revolutionary for white people to get mainstream recognition for talking about homophobia in hip-hop, when queer hip-hop artists of color are routinely ignored? The fact of the matter is the success of “Same Love” is largely due at least in part to white audiences being more receptive to white straight men talking about oppression than oppressed people, as well as the comfort of being able to remove themselves from misogyny and homophobia because the oppression at hand is the fault of Black people in hip-hop. What could be more revolutionary than that? How about listening to queer people of color? What do you think?
Hel Gebreamlak is the co-founder of Writing Resistance and author of the blog Black, Broken & Bent.
Deep Dickollective, "For Colored Boys"
I also want to add Look Alive, pictured above, with her hit song "Go" that I've had on repeat for weeks now.
You can purchase the whole song from Bandcamp.com.
Since music and storytelling go hand-in-hand, check out Rae Tyson in Between Women; I posted the entire first season at the Black Girls Club (Season 2 premieres March 12, 2013!!! Yay!!!).
I first learned about THEESatisfaction (along with Ayo Leilani & Syd tha Kyd) from watching The Peculiar Kind; the entire first season and the first ep of the second season are also posted.