Last week, creator/producer/host of the Da Doo Dirty radio show, DJ Baker sat down with Hip Hop artists’ Baron and Go DDm, CEO of Digiwaxx Media Corey “CL” Llewellyn and Cultural Critic/Writer extraordinaire Greg Tate to discuss the growing LGBT movement in hip hop. The panel was the first of many NYC Public Library adult programming events created and produced by Souleo enterprises, llc and scheduled for this summer.
The panel addressed a range of issues from stereotypes within hip hop culture to the lack of intellectual coverage on the topic in mainstream media. They took it there challenging even me who considers myself a progressive 20-something, not realizing my own implicit biases regarding the subject.
Even now, as I am writing this piece, I’m well aware that I write on this subject with 20-something years of hetero-normative conditioning. This is an admission I make as someone who considers themselves an ‘ally’ of the LGBT community—something that seems to be in fashion as of late. From President Obama to the King and Queen of Hip-Hop themselves, Jay-Z and Beyonce, there seems to be a general movement towards acceptance and support for the LGBT community. But as Go DDm expressed during the panel, would Jay be willing to sign an openly gay rapper? And is Beyonce taking a transgendered MC out on tour? Not yet. In fact it seems no one is. Now I’m not saying that their outpour of support isn’t genuine or that it isn’t genuinely appreciated. But this highlights the remaining gap between intention and action, between theory and practice and ultimately between art and business.
But perhaps we shouldn’t rush it, right? Maybe there just hasn’t been someone talented enough, or committed enough to be the trailblazer and break down that barrier. As CL explained, “if you got the talent, if you got the ambition and if you got some vision, you can pull it off. It’s just that most people drop out of the race before they cross the finish line.”
I agree that hard work looks good on everyone but it’s not that simple. I often times find it deeply disturbing when the majority starts to play the “you” game. If you try hard enough, if you tough it out then everything will work out. And while you are busy making changes and trying really hard to fit into “our” world, the rest of us will absolve ourselves of any responsibility for the explicit, implicit and/or complicit actions we’ve made to contribute to the way society continues to deal with these issues.
However, progress does not come overnight; something everyone on the panel was willing to admit. In the meantime, those of us who have the tools, have a responsibility to try and push the culture forward. No more sensational articles about who’s the closeted rapper. No more Nicki Minaj saying she’s bi-sexual and taking it back. And just no more Lil’ B period. Honest reflection is step one. And step two is a humble dosage of education. The movement is out there. The artist are out there. The question for us now is are we willing to show up?
Check out the freestyle cipher from the event and Souleo’s other NYC public library panel discussions and events here.