Written by Mass Dosage
We should all know rule 4080 of the record industry by now - it's a shady business where you often cannot afford to trust anyone. You've got record execs pimping their artists and enough internal bickering amongst the artists themselves to make Willie Lynch a very happy corpse. For those not up on their segregationist history, Willie Lynch was a slave owner who devised a method of controlling his slaves by subtly polarising them against one another. This eventually led to a situation where there was so much in-fighting that he could deprive them of their rights and mistreat and abuse them without anyone lifting a finger to stop him.
Who is responsible for this today is a question best left for the conspiracy theorists. While I do acknowledge that there are groups out there who would like to see Hip-hop culture destroyed, and that these same groups may have a lot to do with existing divisions, members of the culture must take some of the blame too.
To illustrate this I do not want to focus on the tired East/West theme, but instead want to use an example that shows just how narrow-minded a supposedly open-minded culture can be. Judging by the lyrics of too many a rapper, if one looked up the word 'homosexual' in the Hip-hop dictionary the entry would simply say "see faggot". Under 'faggot' of course there would be plenty of defining terms, most of them derogatory.
For years Hip-hoppers have been quick to protest at the slightest hint of discrimination that may be directed towards them (the gangsta-rap debate, censorship etc.) This (over)sensitivity is in part justified when one looks at how Hip-hop has been scorned by the masses since its inception (how many hardcore Hip-hop acts win Grammy's?) But how can a minority culture that is totally opposed to discrimination turn around and discriminate against another minority culture that has suffered through just as much oppression and hatred?
When are we going to stop using the stereotypes we hate being labelled with to label others? Just because someone is homosexual does not mean that they cannot rip a microphone or catch wreck on a pair of turntables. Some rappers may equate sexual virility with lyrical skills and popularity, but as far as I know their has been no proven link between penis size and voice quality. The same stands true for sexual preferences - why care who or how many people someone sleeps with? This kind of bragging benefits nobody and makes no sense in the AIDS-inflicted 90's.
In conclusion, I am patiently waiting for the day when someone has the courage to step up to the microphone and, instead of saying how many blunts they've smoked or 40's they've drunk, is willing to admit that they are homosexual. Then I want to see who within the Hip-hop culture has the maturity to accept this person regardless of this fact, and who will show themselves to be ignorant and hateful by rejecting them (thereby falling blindly into yet another 'divide and conquer' trap). As much as I hate to say it, Willie Lynch was onto something, but only for as long as we let arbitrary grounds keep us isolated from one another...