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The Nature of Being

rethinking the facts of life

Month

November 2016

My conclusion on homophobia in Hip Hop

I can’t change rap and we can’t forbid homophobia. That would simply be the wrong approach. While writing these posts I realized that the whole topic is just about opinions. I’d say that the right thing to do would be to abolish homophobia and every kind of sexism out of hip hop because it helps to reproduce it in our society. But the artistic freedom outweighs this – How do you objectively tell if it is homophobia, irony, story telling or whatsoever (see Edgar Wasser – Bad Boy)? I think that there is a responsibility for every artist to make sure her or his work doesn’t create any harm. This is particularly crucial for topics like homophobia and sexism that are still well established in society.

Many do not understand this or refer to the responsibility of the listeners (for more statements have a look into this documentary that just came out recently: http://reportage.einslive.de/plan-b-homophobie-im-deutschrap#18858). From a legal point of view this is absolutely fine but it denies the lacking maturity of many listeners who might adopt the portrayed lifestyles and attitudes or just find encouragement for already consisting opinions.

But there is a good development going on in German rap right now. While still a lot of homophobia can be found in German rap music there are also many successful artists who come up with non-homophobic tracks and often even use their music to deal with the issue. This helps to make the listeners think and raises awareness for the stupidity of other rappers. I also got the impression that homophobia is a topic in interviews more often. Even though the responses are often disappointing I am sure that this aids to reduce homophobia in rap because the rappers simply do not like to be confronted with it or try to avoid a bad reputation. This won’t change their minds but it will keep them from changing other minds.

So what did I learn while writing these posts? Homophobia is still too well present in modern mainstream rap music. All in all, it seems to be declining but it still sells. For that reason, rappers keep on using it in many ways – It is a social problem that gets bundled up and amplified in rap music. We can’t and we shouldn’t forbid it. As long as our society stays as homophobic as it is rap also will be. But I also learned that many rappers become more aware and they use their music to address the problem. Just like in the early days when rap music was used to show the hardship of being part of an ethnic minority (and it is still used for this) rap now starts to address the oppression of LGBT-people. It seems to be in the beginnings and I am confident that this development will continue. The best thing you can do is to choose carefully who you support and if you find someone who has a good approach help to spread the word. Rap will only change if society changes. But it can help to accelerate the process.

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A little collection of more conscious rappers

My foregoing posts might have created the impression that Hip Hop is a one-sided homophobic and misogynistic world – But this is not always the case.

Over the months in that I wrote these posts I encountered many artists who are more conscious about homosexuality but also sexism and violence in their lyrics and especially recently more of them are coming up. In this post I would like to introduce you to some of them.

Well known for standing up for LGBT-rights is the German rapper Sookee who studied linguistics and gender studies. She deals with homophobia and sexism in most of her songs. I am not that much into her rap style but I think that her attitude delivers a nice contrast to the usual German rap homophobia.

I already mentioned Edgar Wasser, a rapper from Munich – He often refers to sexism in Hip Hop but also to homophobia. He doesn’t reveal much of his private life so I can’t tell much else about him. I really like how he confronts the modern rap scene in an ironical way. Take some time to explore his music and to think through the lyrics!

Another German rap group with a clear position on homophobia but also on racism is Antilopen Gang from Düsseldorf and Aachen. A good start point to their music is the song “Verliebt” that presents a nice statement to the listener. Their message is exemplary.

Retrogott (former Kurt Huss) deals with gender related topics nowadays way different than on his old songs. Compare these two and you might be quite surprised about the development he made over the years. 1 2

But apart from these there are some lesser known rappers worth mentioning.

MXM & Pavel from Berlin who are part of the label “Upstruct” introduce a nice down-to-earth attitude to the Berlin rap scene. With their modest working class style, they pose quite a difference to most other artists nowadays.

Pöbel MC, also part of Upstruct, positions himself quite clearly against homophobia.

I’d also recommend Dramadigs from Bremen. They also don’t fit into the usual rap pattern. If you like their music also take some time to watch this short movie that Juli Haase made as part of ther master thesis.

This is by far not an exhaustive presentation of “conscious” rappers but I hope I could give you a little insight and a starting point to explore more. No matter what kind of rap you’re into, there is a lot to find. 🙂

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