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No homo(phobia)? Hip-hop's shift in anti-gay tone
NEW YORK (AP) — Snoop Dogg has rapped in songs where gay slurs have been tossed about.
He's even said them, part of a long list of rappers who have freely used the f-word — the other f-word — in rhyme.
For years, anti-gay epithets and sentiments in rap have largely been accepted, along with its frequent misogyny and violence, as part of the hip-hop culture — a culture that has been slow to change, even as gays enjoy more mainstream acceptance, particularly in entertainment.
But while perhaps glacial, a shift appears to be on the horizon.
"People are learning how to live and get along more, and accept people for who they are and not bash them or hurt them because they're different," Snoop Dogg said in a recent interview.
Frank Ocean may be largely responsible for that. The rising star, who revealed on his blog last month that his first love was a man, is technically an R&B singer. But he has produced and collaborated with some of music's top hip-hop acts, from Jay-Z to Andre 3000 to Kanye West to Nas. He's also co-written songs for Beyonce, Justin Bieber and John Legend, and is a member of the alternative rap group Odd Future.
"When I was growing up, you could never do that and announce that," Snoop said of Ocean's revelation. "There would be so much scrutiny and hate and negativity, and no one would step (forward) to support you because that's what we were brainwashed and trained to know."
When 24-year-old Ocean made his announcement, he received a ton of support from the music world, mainly through Twitter and blogs, including encouraging words from 50 Cent, Nas, Jamie Foxx, Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons, Beyonce and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Even Ocean's Odd Future band mate, Tyler, the Creator, showed some love, though he's used homophobic slurs in his songs.
"(The support for Frank is) an extension of the overall kind of support we're seeing across the country for LGBT people, and not just in a broad sense, but specifically from iconic members of the black community," said Daryl Hannah, GLAAD's director of media and community partnerships, who namedropped President Barack Obama and Jay-Z as those leading the change.
While the support for Ocean is strong, and some rappers — including Nicki Minaj — have said a gay rapper will soon hit the music scene, it's still hard to imagine that the male-dominated, macho rap world could include a gay performer.
Anti-gay sentiments have been entrenched in hip-hop for decades. Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels of the iconic rap group Run D.M.C., says it was the norm for years.
"You would have had 50 rappers jump on a song, diss the gay people because it's cool," said D.M.C.
That attitude has abated little, even as other parts of the entertainment industry have curtailed what many consider to be anti-gay material. (Last year, Universal Pictures altered a trailer for the movie "Dilemma" because a character called a car "gay.")
Eminem was targeted by groups like GLAAD for his incessant slurs against gays, a role that now seems to be embodied by Tyler, the Creator, in his raps. Lil Wayne recently used the f-word on Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now," a Grammy-nominated Top 10 pop hit and No. 1 rap and R&B song. There are also terms like "no homo" and "pause" used in the hip-hop community after an utterance to acknowledge that what was said does not have any homosexual intent.