Round these parts, we love to debate Souljah Boy's influence on the kids, and whether 50 Cent ruined hip-hop. Most of you know I've got little patience for that argument, and here is why. I played Straight Outta Compton the other day. Talk about an album that doesn't hold up. Beats are banging as ever, and Ren and Cube are nasty, but the gimmick is so obvious. Say some hateful shit. Attract a lot of attention. Sell a lot of records.
Here's something even more uncomfortable--the ubiquitous presences of the word "fag" throughout 80s and 90s hip-hop. This can't be blamed on gangsta rap, it runs through the entire gamut--I'm talking from "The Message" on ti "Halftime." I'm not writing this to come down on anybody. In fact it's about me--I listened to the music for years with virtually no reaction. I still think Illmatic is pure literature. But this...
I got to have it, I miss Mr. Magic
Versatile, my style switches like a faggot
But not bisexual, I'm an intellectual
...can't be explained away. It's interesting, because the homophobia bothers me more than the sexism. In hip-hop, women aren't pariahs. They're often talked about in really deplorable fashion, but they aren't untouchables. Quite the opposite. But do you remember the hysteria and finger-pointing around the "gay rapper" rumors?
I'm not arguing that you should, or shouldn't, stop listening--I haven't figured that one out for myself, much less other people. I have no idea what goes on in, say, heavy metal. I guess I'm just struck that I missed it, or didn't care, for so long. Moreover, it's another reminder of why nobility through suffering is such BS. Maybe Birth of a Nation really is a "technically great" film.