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April 29, 2011 4:16 PM   Subscribe

Berkeley rapper Lil' B announced at Coachella he is doing "the most controversial thing in hip-hop". He's releasing an album titled I'm Gay. Only he's not gay. Well, not gay in the gay way. He's gay in the really happy way. Lil' B informed MTV News that he's "taking the initial steps to break barriers" between the hip-hop community and homosexuals. He has received death threats as a result of his message. GLAAD remains skeptical about the rapper's motives.
posted by quadog (64 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
[this is badass]
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:25 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


[This is a publicity stunt]
posted by jenlovesponies at 4:27 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think this is the way hip-hop is supposed to work. Piss people off until there are no more barriers left.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:27 PM on April 29, 2011 [16 favorites]


I'm gay, n****!!!
posted by phaedon at 4:28 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Haha - that's pretty slick. Good on him.
posted by Pecinpah at 4:28 PM on April 29, 2011


Is this an "I'm gay. No homo." wide stance?
posted by orthogonality at 4:29 PM on April 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


Rap is 50% self-aggrandizing and publicity stuntin like one's daddy. It is indeed badass to court publicity in a way that makes people consider prejudice!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:30 PM on April 29, 2011


it's glaad's job to be skeptical, but no matter what the motives, if this guy's going around saying that homophobia in rap is wrong, and people are hearing that message, that's a neat thing. what's he going to do, take it all back later and say he didn't mean it? and what, his doing that would negate that people heard that message?

admittedly, i'm inclined to assume his intentions (whatever the financial motives) are good. but with people like gaga and ben cohen around promoting the same kind of message, i'm incredibly moved by the effort. i can't imagine the burden that would have been lifted had public figures put across this message when i was in high school.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 4:44 PM on April 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


is this a north pole/ south pole thing?
posted by clavdivs at 4:46 PM on April 29, 2011


I said this in the Jay Smooth thread, but "if you're not the original target of an insult, you can't be the one to reclaim it." And Lil B needs to learn that.
posted by hippybear at 4:51 PM on April 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Are heterosexual gay folk nonetheless FABULOUS??
posted by LogicalDash at 4:51 PM on April 29, 2011


Are heterosexual gay folk nonetheless FABULOUS??

What? No!
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:53 PM on April 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I do want to like this. I think it is awesome when we can ease stigma. But I also don't like the idea of getting rich off of the struggles of other minority groups. If he is going to do this, I hope he backs it up with 1. mentoring to the rap community 2. financial contributions to, say, the Trevor Project 3. Speaking out, in a coherent and sustained way, to people, especially teenagers, about being an ally.

If we never hear another word about this after his album sales dry up, then I get to name my next album I'm a Transgendered African-American Jewish Little Person.
posted by jenlovesponies at 4:57 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lady Gaga (who is not gay), Born This Way = triumph for gay community
Lil B (who is not gay), I'm Gay = insulting to everyone

Obviously both are in it for self-promotion, but their secondary motives for doing what they're doing are essentially the same. Why is one different than the other? Lil' B is in a musical environment that is heinous toward the gay community. And Lady Gaga makes dance music. I just don't get the outrage towards one but not the other. Yes, I do remember people being outraged at Lady Gaga, but those people got shouted down, even on Metafilter.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:04 PM on April 29, 2011 [31 favorites]


If he is going to do this, I hope he backs it up with...

the dude stood up in the middle of a community of vehemently anti-gay folk and said, "I got major love for the gay and lesbian community." i wouldn't appreciate that any less if he made millions of bucks and never mentioned gay people again. if someone does me a favor today, i'm not going to demand to know how they'll help me tomorrow.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 5:07 PM on April 29, 2011 [27 favorites]


Lady Gaga (who is not gay)
She's bi.
posted by NoraReed at 5:11 PM on April 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Lady Gaga is bi
posted by jenlovesponies at 5:13 PM on April 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


Lady Gaga is bisexual.

But even if she were totally straight, Born This Way would have been a perfectly good message because she's shown from the start that she has a lot of respect for the gay community and her fans, and has been very supportive of things like repealing DADT, gay marriage, and the It Gets Better Project. She might not be the best gay ally, as she probably alienates a lot of the people who need to be reached the most, but at the same time, I think she's sincere about supporting gay rights. And I'm sure her positivity and popularity with young people is helpful for teenagers who are coming to grips with their sexuality.

I'm not really familiar with this rapper, but it doesn't really sound like he's got the same history. I think it's a bit weird to call himself gay if he's not gay, especially if he's doing that "I'm saying it means happy!" thing. I mean, to me that just reminds me of an obnoxious thing middle schoolers claim when the teacher catches them calling someone else gay in a derogatory sense.

But if he does follow this up by supporting the gay community and encouraging other rappers to back up on homophobia, even if the album's a flop, good on him.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:16 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


hippybear said: if you're not the original target of an insult, you can't be the one to reclaim it

Is Lil' B trying to "reclaim" anything, though? I think he's just trying to show some support for and/or solidarity with the LGBT community. It may be a little confusing, maybe even intentionally so, but he's got people talking and that's not a bad thing.
posted by amyms at 5:24 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think it's a bit weird to call himself gay if he's not gay,

Which is still only half as weird as most of his music: (nsfw) Wonton Soup, Justin Bieber, I'm Miley Cyrus, etc..
posted by p3t3 at 5:26 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


So bisexuals are gay? Are gay people bisexual? Those are two different types of people, yes?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:26 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


hippybear: "I said this in the Jay Smooth thread, but "if you're not the original target of an insult, you can't be the one to reclaim it." And Lil B needs to learn that."

I... what? Did he call himself a 'fag' somewhere? Or are you objecting to the use of the word 'gay'?

I guess we're not all Spartacus...
posted by danny the boy at 5:33 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Right, this seems less like "reclaiming an insult" — since in a lot of circles "gay" is a perfectly neutral term — and more like "trying kinda cluelessly to assert solidarity." Or maybe "finding a nice pile of controversy and rolling around in it." Hard to tell.

I'm reminded of when Joni Mitchell said she was gonna start her memoirs with the line "I was the only black man at the party." On the one hand, if she feels some sort of affinity for black culture, that's a good thing and it's hard to work up any sort of anger over it. On the other hand, what the hell was she thinking? What a silly thing for a white lady to say! Poor old ridiculous out-of-touch Joni Mitchell.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:34 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


i frickin love this. it's no secret that rap culture is loaded to the gills with homophobia, and it's great that this guy is dissenting publicly. as for the profit motive, and the outsider status, huh? so bruce springsteen should stop singing about the working poor? [etc. x western popular culture]
posted by facetious at 5:35 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


if you're not the original target of an insult, you can't be the one to reclaim it

"Gay" is not an insult.

I haven't heard the album, so I don't feel qualified to comment on his intentions or how successful he was at achieving them, but I'm not ready to dismiss it as just a publicity stunt. ACT UP was a series of publicity stunts. Sometimes justice needs a PR agent.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:38 PM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


This guy's been visibly speaking against homophobia and playing with hiphop's taboos about sexuality for a good couple years now. It's not like some random rapper who's never addressed this kind of stuff in the past just suddenly said "I'm naming my next album 'I'm Gay'" just for publicity's sake (although sure, Lil B does like to stir the pot, no questions there). This is kind of a surprising move, but completely in character.
posted by Greener Backyards at 5:41 PM on April 29, 2011 [18 favorites]


From the youtubes: "How many white people can this nigga be in one day?"

I want to know too.
posted by artof.mulata at 5:45 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


People assuming publicity stunt are either looking for reasons to hate on this guy or reasons to hate on people with positive messages and/or the reasons they're standing up for them. Not everyone is trying to profit off of other people's pain.

No one here has the right to say he doesn't understand what he's talking about or what he's fighting for because we are not him. We are not the possible friend or relative that has been dealing with hate for years. We are not the barrage of fans he's garnered simply because they feel safe at his shows.

His intentions are a mere shadow of the message he's sending to the community, and the community he's sending it to, so please get off of your soapboxes.
posted by june made him a gemini at 5:50 PM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Homos (or, we could go alphabet soup and just say LGBTSTGNC) have been in hip hop since the beginning. Check out Deep Dickollective, also of Oaktown, circa 2000. Homophobia is one of many prevailing issues that affects communities that consume, create, and create a context for the genre of hip hop.

With gay love and solidarity.
posted by simulacra at 5:54 PM on April 29, 2011


Can my band release an album called "We's Niggas too!"?
posted by lumpenprole at 6:04 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which is still only half as weird as most of his music: (nsfw) Wonton Soup , Justin Bieber , I'm Miley Cyrus , etc..

Wow. I've no idea whether he's a genius or an idiot, nor whether I really like his stuff or really hate it.
posted by jack_mo at 6:21 PM on April 29, 2011


Let's not devolve into 'White People Take Chance on Being Insightful; Spew Accidental Ebonics, Falling Down Stairs At 11.' mode.
posted by artof.mulata at 6:25 PM on April 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'd imagine he think he's helping out, that deserves some credit even if he's an idiot or a fool. Just say thanks & move on to real issues. If he continues helping, great. If not, I'm sure he'd still love to wittily call other rappers to task for their homophobia.

There is some mistaken idea that LGBT people need some idealized correct message. I don't think I'd be so worried about optimizing my message if I wanted dirt simply shit like respect for marriage vows. If the message carries itself, then you don't much care who the messenger is.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:29 PM on April 29, 2011


Which is still only half as weird as most of his music: (nsfw) Wonton Soup , Justin Bieber , I'm Miley Cyrus , etc..

Wow. I've no idea whether he's a genius or an idiot, nor whether I really like his stuff or really hate it


I Know what you mean I would never have listened to any of this if I hadn't seen this thread. It is kind of mind blowing, I keep thinking "Did he just say he looks like JK Rowling?" (turns out he does say he looks like JK Rowling, I looked up the lyrics). I particularly like "Imma pretty bitch".
posted by Ad hominem at 6:35 PM on April 29, 2011


I guess I should clarify a bit.

"Gay" isn't an insult. Well, it isn't anymore, but it used to be. And the homosexuals reclaimed it, so now it's used as a descriptor instead of a pejorative.

Lil B has stated unequivocally that his use of "gay" isn't a descriptor of his sexuality, but of his mood. He's happy, he's not queer. If he's NOT trying to reclaim the word out of its modern meaning and back to its use in the 1930s or whatever, then he's certainly sending out some mixed messages.

There are much better ways to support a group of people which your artistic community has long been very abusive toward than to take on the descriptor of that community, claim that you're doing it to support that community, and yet go out of your way to say that you're not actually using that word in the way which that community has used it for decades.

I think we've been waiting a long long time for hip hop to move out of its homophobic stance, and I welcome anyone who is trying to push that envelope. But is that what Lil B is doing here? The album itself hasn't actually been released yet, so it's difficult to judge any of its content. But the way it stands right now, it feels much more like a stunt than anything truly supportive.

If he's really seeking to change things in hip hop, it's an interesting strategy, and I'll be the first to eat my hat if he's got more going on than just seeking publicity through the naming of his album. But until then, I will try to withhold judgement and wait to see what his statement really is. I don't know much about the man or his work, so I can't look back at his previous offerings with any real authority to know whether he has any tracks which might back up what he's currently saying about the GLBT community, or what.
posted by hippybear at 6:36 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


"There are much better ways to support a group of people which your artistic community has long been very abusive toward than to take on the descriptor of that community, claim that you're doing it to support that community, and yet go out of your way to say that you're not actually using that word in [that] way..."

Hiphop is all about wordplay. I'm assuming the guy is just throwing roses at everyone who tries to pin him on anything other than his intended message. It's hard to hit a moving target when it's laughing at you.
posted by artof.mulata at 6:51 PM on April 29, 2011


Hiphop is all about wordplay. I'm assuming the guy is just throwing roses at everyone who tries to pin him on anything other than his intended message. It's hard to hit a moving target when it's laughing at you.

Yes, of course. I'm somehow wrong for wanting to examine his "I'm Gay" message because hiphop is all about wordplay. I'll remember that the next time I want to talk about brown people in America and will make sure to use words however I want, and will use the excuse that it's all just wordplay if I happen to pick vocabulary which cause people to question me. "It's all just wordplay. Here, have some roses."
posted by hippybear at 7:08 PM on April 29, 2011


"Gay" isn't an insult.

It is to a homophobe, which I think is the point.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:14 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


A few decades previously...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:26 PM on April 29, 2011


Because all the other stuff rappers say when they're describing themselves and their lives is completely true, unexaggerated, serious, and inoffensive.
posted by straight at 7:33 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are much better ways to support a group of people which your artistic community has long been very abusive toward than to take on the descriptor of that community, claim that you're doing it to support that community, and yet go out of your way to say that you're not actually using that word in the way which that community has used it for decades.

the title actually more reminded me of the scene in in & out in which like all these townsfolk stand up in a meeting, including wilford brimley, and declare that they are gay, even though they are not, as a gesture of solidarity with poor kevin kline. did he really go out of his way, or did he simply clarify that his album title did not represent his coming out, which would be anyone's first assumption?

maybe there are much better ways, but there's also the more common, easy route of ignoring injustice that isn't happening to you personally.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 7:34 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Based!
posted by Windigo at 7:36 PM on April 29, 2011


hippybear: "I'm somehow wrong for wanting to examine his "I'm Gay" message because hiphop is all about wordplay."

I'm not saying you're wrong, buddy; I'm just speculating on a hypothesis.
posted by artof.mulata at 7:41 PM on April 29, 2011


So bisexuals are gay? Are gay people bisexual? Those are two different types of people, yes?

Don't be obtuse. You asked:

Lady Gaga (who is not gay), Born This Way = triumph for gay community
Lil B (who is not gay), I'm Gay = insulting to everyone

Obviously both are in it for self-promotion, but their secondary motives for doing what they're doing are essentially the same. Why is one different than the other?


The obvious answer is that one is different from the other because Lady Gaga is bi and Lil B is straight. She's one of the people she is singing about. If you knew that she was bi, that makes the question more objectionable, not less.
posted by Marty Marx at 7:50 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yes homo!
posted by dr_dank at 8:48 PM on April 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Gay" isn't an insult. Well, it isn't anymore, but it used to be. And the homosexuals reclaimed it, so now it's used as a descriptor instead of a pejorative.

No. Gay used to mean happy and carefree. Then it was adopted by the homosexual community to mean homosexual and this meaning became generally accepted. When words spontaneously change their meaning it's fantastic and liberating and we should celebrate the triumph of the streets over the academy. Then schoolkids started using 'gay' to mean limp, insipid or stupid and it soon caught on with other people too. When words spontaneously change their meaning it's evil and oppressive and must be stamped out from above.

I'm reminded of when Joni Mitchell said she was gonna start her memoirs with the line "I was the only black man at the party." On the one hand, if she feels some sort of affinity for black culture, that's a good thing and it's hard to work up any sort of anger over it. On the other hand, what the hell was she thinking? What a silly thing for a white lady to say! Poor old ridiculous out-of-touch Joni Mitchell.

I thought we decided that if a woman says she is a man that makes her a man, just as when a man says he's a woman that makes him a woman. To deny people the right to choose their gender at will is bigoted and regressive. As we've also decided there's no such thing as race and that there's really no difference between black people and white people I really don't see the problem here either as who can tell if Joni Mitchell is black or white anyway? Everyone knows Bill Clinton was the first black president, Toni Morrison said so in 1998 and we like her so she must be right, so if Bill Clinton can be black I don't see why Joni Mitchell can't be.
posted by joannemullen at 9:09 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


But is that what Lil B is doing here? The album itself hasn't actually been released yet, so it's difficult to judge any of its content. But the way it stands right now, it feels much more like a stunt than anything truly supportive.

I don't know whether it's a stunt, or whether it's supportive. (I don't even know what "supportive" hiphop would look like, to be truthful -- at least any that's not well underground. For that matter, what does "supportive" music of any kind look like right now? I don't hear very much of it, period, unless we're talking about whatever's on "Glee" this week.) The man's getting death threats. That seems like quite a limb to go out on for a meaningless stunt.

Maybe he's a big clown, or as a competitor called him, a "minstrel show." He's pissing off other rappers enough to get them to notice him and call him out onstage. 10 or 15 years ago they would have just ignored him.

Quoting Lil B: "I got major love for the gay and lesbian community, and I just want to push less separation and that's why I'm doing it." You know what? That's more than good enough for me. I don't give a shit whether it's a PR gimmick or not. If his handlers think it's good for him to pander to the gay community -- awesome!

"Gay" isn't an insult. Well, it isn't anymore, but it used to be. And the homosexuals reclaimed it, so now it's used as a descriptor instead of a pejorative.

It isn't anymore? Don't tell that to anyone under the age of 18! They've done some reclaiming of their own lately.
posted by blucevalo at 9:14 PM on April 29, 2011


The picture in the GLAAD article link...how does he do that with his fingers? Holy crap I think I just gave myself arthritis trying to do that.


I can see both sides of this coin. On the one side, good on him, cool message. On the other hand, its a bit sharp around the edges and very ripe with the possibility of giving offense. Better an honest message warts and all than a committee sanctified watered down ad campaign that really just bores people. I didn't think he was claiming to speak for gay people, I take it as he is speaking for Lil B. More power to him.
posted by ian1977 at 9:41 PM on April 29, 2011


I just can't believe that we're really getting upset over some guy trying to do something about the state of gay bashing in hip hop.

What do you want him to do? A drag show? A parade? A town hall meeting? Not even try? He's not a worthy advocate because he's not going about it the way you would?

As an artist that's been in the game for a few years, I think he knows a little bit more about his surroundings and the type of people he's trying to reach out to than we do. And if those people aren't going to give you, as a gay person, the time of day, how are you ever going to ever going to reach them?

Acceptance is much easier to grasp when it's already being displayed within a community's walls. I hardly doubt he's trying or claiming to "reclaim" anything. He's doing what needs to be done in a manner that's going to get the people he's targeting to talk about it. People don't respond the same way to the same things.

Abstracting prejudice out of the title of his album and assuming people are going to flee for the hills is just bullshit. If people get offended by what he's doing, they're offended by homosexuality, not the word 'gay'.
posted by june made him a gemini at 9:49 PM on April 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


This just reminded me that Jesse Dangerously had a track called "A Single Gay Male on His Thirtieth Birthday" on his album from 2004. But I guess Canada is about 7 years more progressive than California.

Also he's white and ostensibly kinda-sorta nerdcore, so he's probably not "real" hiphop by some Metafilter snobs' perspectives.
posted by explosion at 10:40 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


No. Gay used to mean happy and carefree.

Right, except for its use for hundreds of years in which gay meant "wanton, lewd, and lascivious", and soon meant sexually permissive, and then finally was used by homosexuals to be a less ugly word than "queer".

I'm well aware of how the word has evolved across history.
posted by hippybear at 10:50 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Born This Way" isn't just about accepting yourself for being gay; it's about accepting yourself. In general. She doesn't say "HEY I'M A HOMO" or anything.
posted by NoraReed at 11:36 PM on April 29, 2011


I thought we decided that if a woman says she is a man that makes her a man, just as when a man says he's a woman that makes him a woman.

Yep. But that's not what Joni Mitchell is doing here. Do you honestly think this line is Joni Mitchell coming out of the closet as a transgendered male?

As we've also decided there's no such thing as race and that there's really no difference between black people and white people I really don't see the problem here either as who can tell if Joni Mitchell is black or white anyway?

See now, you're being perverse again. Saying that race is a social construct used to categorize humans is not the same thing as saying that race doesn't exist.
posted by the jam at 12:25 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


[This is a publicity stunt]
So is everything said and done by Lady Gaga.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:51 AM on April 30, 2011


I said this in the Jay Smooth thread, but "if you're not the original target of an insult, you can't be the one to reclaim it." And Lil B needs to learn that.

Disagree.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:54 AM on April 30, 2011


She doesn't say "HEY I'M A HOMO" or anything.

Carl Bean does!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:57 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why is one different than the other?

Because one is white and one is not. And no matter how hard mefites try...sometimes, just sometimes the racism shows.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:59 AM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why's he so willing to bridge gaps with the gay community, but not with the females he says he's so fond of?

"Hoes on my dick, hoes on my dick."

I'm not implying he's actually gay, I'm saying he's an asshole cause he says stupid things like "hoes on my dick."

"Women are here as nothing more than wall decorations used for my pleasure, but the way the hip-hop community treats gays is just unacceptable." I love a consistent message.
posted by toekneebullard at 4:57 AM on April 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Making a statement about "hoes" is not the exact same thing as making a statement about all women.
posted by TheKM at 6:42 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't wait for the next Slayer album which will be called "Poofter."
posted by zzazazz at 8:29 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, there was a thread recently about black gay history month, and how difficult it is to be a gay black man, as compared to a white gay man. Mayny years ago, Channel 4 showed a programme about what it was like to be gay in the UK, and talked to balck british gay guys, and they talked about the cultural differences. I have worked places with large numbers of black guys, and heard the phrase "batty man" often. So maybe this is a good thing, as it will raise awareness in the black community of gay issues. Hell, if it even causes debate and anger, its a good thing, as it means at least people are facing up to this stuff.

And publicity? Gaga does it all the time, Katy Perry did it then married a bloke, so its no worse than those.

And finally, to link-in to another mefi thread: one of my favourite x-files is the x-cops episode, with the 2 gay black guys, one of whom is extremely camp. They are at once hilarious and yet evoke such empathy.
posted by marienbad at 9:21 AM on April 30, 2011


Lil B has an interesting schtick, and he's doing that next-gen style of marketing hip-hop as well as anybody (Soulja Boy, Odd Future, etc.), but he isn't much of a rapper.
posted by box at 11:23 AM on April 30, 2011


Also he's white and ostensibly kinda-sorta nerdcore, so he's probably not "real" hiphop by some Metafilter snobs' perspectives.

Nah: MC Frontalot did it too.

It's just that Nerdcore doesn't really register on mainstream, or even underground, hip-hop. So nothing it does really affects that culture at all.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:54 PM on April 30, 2011


The discussion over what a 'ho' is has done to death. There are women out there who strive to fit that title. Good on them, at least they're out doing their thing and not telling people who they can and can't stand up for based on if they've ever even experienced it.

Guess I did that March for Babies walk this morning for no reason, man, what a waste of time!
posted by june made him a gemini at 7:52 PM on April 30, 2011


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