On the back of Tracy Morgan's much-publicized (and much-maligned) homophobic stand-up routine, XXL magazine has undertaken a survey of sorts covering hip-hop's high and mighty as well as its more lo-fi brethren and notices a shift from the genre's historically hypermacho attitudes to a more live-and-let-live sensibility. Here, a rundown of some of the artists they highlight as proof that hip-hop is becoming more gay friendly.
Russell Simmons: The Def Jam Recordings honcho has been one of the gay rights' movements most visible supporters and says the rest of hip-hop isn't far behind him. "The hip-hop community are less homophobic than the rest of society."
Lil B: The rapper's recently released new album, titled I'm Gay, is really the first time an artist has taken the issue on headfirst. Even though he's made a point of saying that he is, in fact, straight, Lil B told XXL that when he hears the word "gay," it "doesn't mean anything to me but happy."
Eminem: Despite mentioning other openly gay artists in his 2009 song "Elevator" and wondering why "they get so upset when I call them [...] faggots," Eminem has proven to be a bit more nuanced than most people give him credit for. In 2001, he performed onstage with Elton John at the Grammys and the pair even held hands after performing Eminem's song "Stan" together. And last year on 60 Minutes, he gave Anderson Cooper the hard, distilled truth about himself: "I don't have any problem with nobody, you know what I mean. Like, I'm just whatever."
Lil Wayne: In 2009, Mr. "Teeth Bling" was photographed kissing fellow rapper (and grill enthusiast) Baby on the mouth. (Baby later said he considers Lil Wayne like his "first born son", so it was that kind of a kiss.) Either way, their fans barely registered the incident.
Someone who's not jumping on the headed-to-tolerance bandwagon, though, is Beanie Sigel: “You gay, go ahead, do you,” he told XXL. “I just don’t particularly prefer what your preference is. Keep that shit all the way in the closet around me." Confronted with evidence such as that, the great Mr. Simmons dished out some pretty deep stuff. "They're mirrors of our own sickness," he says of artists like Beanie. While not in full retreat quite yet, still good to know that the "sickness" is largely on the outs.
Break it Down: Homophobia in Hip-Hop [XXL Mag]