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:
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.