Words By Travon Free
Kobe said it and set the sports world ablaze. It also cost him $100,000. Isaiah Washington said it. He lost his job and has all but vanished from Hollywood. It’s been made more than clear that homophobia and the word faggot is a terrible and disgusting word that refuses to be tolerated except for in one place –the music world. Particularly in rap music.
You don’t have to search far or hard to find homophobic rap lyrics, the use of the word fag, faggot, or the legendary “no homo”. But the reason I decided to voice my opinion on this matter is because recently the music world has fallen in love with a 19 year rapper by the name of Tyler The Creator of Odd Future and I for one can’t climb on board this train. Why? I’ve listened to Tyler’s work and there is no doubt he’s a very talented kid but to see people whom I respect or who’s opinion I consider valuable shower such high praises on him with such hateful and irresponsible lyrics like “Come take a stab at it faggot, I pre-ordered your casket” or “You silly rabbit faggot, tricks are for kids so we go abracadabra” starts to make me question the validity of their intellectual understanding. Why is this acceptable?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of rap music and will be the first to tell you I’m guilty or reciting misogynistic and nasty rap lyrics from Eminem down to Lil Wayne. However, since majority of rap lyrics are compiled with female conquests, newly acquired wealth and rags to riches stories of ghetto survival, you or I probably wont have much luck changing that. But for rappers who are held up and regarded as role models to the youth in many communities, there comes a certain level of responsibility with the way they use their instrument especially when it comes down to word choice. I mean even Nicki Minaj, who’s fan base is comprised mostly of women and gay men casually uses the lyric “N*gga you softer than a homosexual”. How do you deliver a direct insult to the very people who pay your bills and made you famous and that’s ok?
Why is it that Shonda Rhimes(creator of Grey’s Anatomy and ‘giver of the ax’ to Isiah Washington), the media and NBA Commissioner David Stern can immediately recognize the error of Kobe Bryant’s ways, recognizing how far and wide the tentacles of destruction reach from the word faggot, yet label heads and record executives aren’t inclined to do the same with their artists? For those who argue its artistic censorship, why is it not for Kobe or Isiah? They’re both entertainers as well — one theatric and the other athletic.
I would most likely attribute it to the fact that no one is brave enough to go against the machine and the fact that not enough rap fans will never complain or stop listening. Couple that with the fact that it’s no secret that statistically, the black community is anti-gay so why would they care about homophobic lyrics(granted majority of rap is consumed by white people)? Just look at the way Grant Hill was attacked by black people on Twitter when his “Don’t Say Gay” PSA aired during the playoffs. But everyone black, white, blue, or green has a responsibility in this matter.
Travon Free is a comedian, actor, and writer who has been seen on such shows as Chelsea Lately, Tosh.0, Party Down, House, Southland, in various commercials and has opened for comedy mentor and friend Russell Peters on multiple occasions.