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The Nature of Being

rethinking the facts of life

Month

April 2016

The history of homophobia in hip hop – Part 1

Homophobia in hip hop – An issue well present but rarely discussed. Everybody knows about these ugly terms many rappers use in their lyrics but as it seems there has never been a serious discussion about it. Most people just say it is a stylistic device not meant to villainize homosexual people. But that is not a good justification. Sociology made me think about the problem and also made me question the music I love.

There should be no room for homophobia in our society – But there still is. Everywhere. Especially in Hip Hop. So I believe it is time to have a closer look at the issue.

To fully understand homophobia in German Hip-Hop we need to find out where homophobia in Hip Hop evolved from.

For that, first we will have a quick look at the history of Hip Hop.

A consistent history of Hip Hop has never been written. Most sources locate the origin of Hip Hop at the block parties of 1970s New York, especially those in the Bronx. At these parties DJs played popular music and started to isolate percussive beats from songs and used two turntables to extend the breaks. “Kool DJ Herc” might be the most popular DJ from these times and often is referred to as the “founding father of hip hop”.

As sampling technologies and drum machines became more affordable for the general public hip hop gained in popularity. Rapping got introduced into hip hop and evolved from simple rhymes to more complex techniques and in the 1980s rappers faced social issues of young African Americans in their lyrics. In the 1990s gangsta rap arose and gained mainstream success. Drugs, violence and misogyny found their way into hip hop but social issues still took their place in the lyrics.

Hip-Hop early developed as a mean to express the bad life circumstances in black US-American ghettos. Rappers described their lives in ghettos, their poor life chances, police brutality, high crime rates – More general: What it is like being part of a suppressed minority. This contradiction is why I always wondered about the omnipresence of homophobia in hip-hop.

To give you an early example of Hip-Hop’s role to point out adversities have a listen to these two classic examples:

Lyrics: The Message

Lyrics: Lord Knows

Even in “The Message” you can find homophobic terms. But it is remarkable that 2Pac is one of the few rappers who did not make use of homophobia (or can anybody proof me wrong?).

In the next post I will try to outline where particularly homophobia in hip hop evolved from and how it found its way into German hip hop. I will also introduce you to some hip hop tracks which can be characterized by homophobia to give you an idea of the issue. Some of the artists will be covered in the following posts and you might be surprised which developments in their reflection of homophobia in hip hop can be found.

 

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“Try again after plastic surgery” -A Chinese restaurant and its innovative advertising gimmick

I spontaneously decided to add another blog post after seeing a – lets say interesting – report in German television this morning.

There is a restaurant in China that came up with a – lets say stupid – advertising gimmick: They rate peoples appearance and if they are pretty enough, their meal is for free. Sounds great, right? Here and here you can read more about the restaurant.

So how does that work?

Pretty simple and pretty absurd! After entering the restaurant, people have to use a face-scanning machine that takes photos of the users and these photos are directly send to two plastic surgeons working as “evaluators” for the restaurants. Yes, you read correctly!

china-beauty-resta_3163129c
[1]

Of course, you get your results AFTER you had your meal. I mean, we don´t want people to lose their appetite. So after enjoying a rich meal that is borne by the desire to finally get recognition and admiration, people have to face the judgement of those two “experts”.

What is really frightening is the way they tell people their opinion. This goes like:

A: “O-o-kaaay. What do you think?”

B: “First of all, you have to correct you nose. Then you deeeefinitely need to get your cheekbones raised. Moreover, your forehead is way to flat. Do some surgery and then you can try again. Maybe you will get your next meal here for free.”

The report ends with the nice young girl called “A” (or are we talking about humans here?!) explaining that “I never really thought about plastic surgery. But I think now I will try it.”

I guess this wasn´t a hard decision. Come on, who wouldn´t do plastic surgery for a free meal?

Marcel

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References:

[1] = Picture taken from http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03163/china-beauty-resta_3163129c.jpg, 01.04.2016

 

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