“Strip away the fear, underneath it’s all the same love. About time that we raised up” – Macklemore
Most of us have encountered social controversy unto our own cultural background only to contradict those actions by negatively judging or staying voiceless with other major social issues. Macklemore highlights this voiceless phenomena of the American people, admitting he’s been a part of it. That is, until now. In a personal statement, he recognizes the courageous efforts of our president to become the first in office to support same-sex marriage. I repeat… our President – whom hip-hop moguls endorse; supports same sex marriage. If leadership means anything, the President makes history by clarifying support of basic civil rights for the American culture and its already changing attitude among young people. Yes, your favorite rappers need a leader too, and Obama it is.
Before Obama though, America was introduced to hip-hop with blatant homophobic verses from its pioneers, like GrandMaster Flash and NWA. In GrandMaster Flash’s “The Message,” he expresses that being poor in a hopeless community meant male kids destined to be jailbait “spending the next two years as an undercover fag…” and essentially being killed. Being listed as VH1’s 5th best song in hip-hop of all time makes it the clearest message of homophobic acceptability in hip-hop.
Eazy-E‘s “Nobody Move” goes “…put that gat to his legs, all the way up his skirt/ because this one faggot that I had to hurt…” From that standard, ‘gangster rap’ took over the ‘90s, leaving no room for a homosexual to be a part of.
Fast forward 10 years, while veteran rappers like Kanye West, T.I., Fat Joe, and Jay-Z have spoken out in support of same sex marriage by now, I don’t think it will be anytime soon for a veteran rapper (whom started his career around the subgenre of gangster rap) to open up about witnessing, or being involved in, a homosexual encounter. Being “real” gains the most respect with hip-hop fans, so to confess about something like that would mean danger to their career and credibility – especially once the media gets the story.
The hip-hop media will praise a rapper on their good day only to turn around and highlight a story title with connotations like “embarrassing” and “suspicious” to a picture questioning a rapper’s sexuality. However, whether the media likes it or not, hip-hop is evolving with the generation, and losing its fear of rejection. As albums like “The Chronic” and “Straight Outta Compton” remain classics in our crates, rounds of artists’ lyrical progression onto equal rights begin to buzz over social networks and notable interviews.
Today’s breakout artists like, A$AP Rocky, Lil B, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, and Macklemore, are working around the informational generation, where a new environment is demanding revolution for all aspects of social equality, like same sex marriage. These young artists also are working in a time where regional hip-hop is not as important to point out as purveying the message of who you are aesthetically and as an individual.
Now, where being different is fitting in, indie hip-hop artists are grabbing the biggest piece of the pie. Artists like Macklemore can go ahead and upload a socially conscious song like “Same Love” on Soundcloud any time of day with no pressure to stick to what’s “safe.” Tables have turned for artists and major record labels. Now, emerging artists find it better to satisfy their demographic by staying independent.
In “Same Love”, Macklemore’s 2 main concerns for the gay community are 1)the many people who are comfortable with staying quiet about everyday phrases like “faggot” and “homo.” 2) the Church’s judgement toward them:
“Calling each other faggots behind the keys of a message board…” -Macklemore
Some people who are not homophobic still say that word as a carefree callous; it is not a big deal at all for many – even though those words are rooting from the same hate raised of racism and wars. Macklemore expresses the need for us to speak up against the unjust choice of words often used, then heard, from gay kids who actually begin to hate themselves because of it.
“The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision that you can be cured with some treatment and religion.//Manmade rewiring of a predisposition//Oh no here we go, America the brave still fears what we don’t know//But we paraphrase a book written 3500 years ago, I don’t know…” -Macklemore
Churches often point out a famous Leviticus quote mandating, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination. Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable” However, the bible has many other mandates that do not fit with today’s society, including permission for fathers to sell their daughters into slavery and men not being able to grow beards. Macklemore raps out the Bible as “3500 years old, I don’t know…” as a way to end the verse, proving much skepticism from it. He calls the holy water poisonous since they use biblical justifications to deny gay communities.
Macklemore’s intention for this song is to help more people gain courage and spark change with dialogue. He hopes to add some positive stir to approve Referendum 74, which would make Washington the first state in the nation to defend marriage equality by public vote.
Liberation for the gay community in the hip-hop industry is at its wee start, and with that, its content will continue to shift to new reaches of empathy.