Who is the Gay Rapper?
That’s a question that obsessed people after the Connecticut
publication One Nut set off a firestorm of speculation a few years ago
by publishing a series of interviews with an anonymous well-known
rapper who claimed to be gay. Hip-hop fans and industry insiders went
on a witch hunt, analyzing lyrics and theorizing about various
artists’ offstage behavior. Stars ranging from LL Cool J to Dr. Dre
to Jay-Z to Method Man found their sexual orientation being called
Sadly, the fascination was fueled by prevalent gay stereotypes. Far
too many people seem to think that being gay would somehow prevent a
rapper from busting a mind-altering dance move or kicking a dope
freestyle. But such notions are ridiculous. After all, there are gay
policemen, accountants and doctors who are as good at their jobs or
better than their straight colleagues. So why couldn’t the Gay Rapper
be a superstar?
A listen to the tracks “Straight Trippin’ ” or “Fam Biz Edit,” put
out by Bay Area rappers Tim’m T West and Juba Kalamka with their crew,
D/DC (Deep Dick Collective), lays to rest any idea that gay rappers
lack the necessary skills.Over the past couple of years, D/DC has
built a strong reputation at its frequent shows for both gay and
straight crowds. The D/DC group is best known for its innovations –
fusing spoken-word, as well as straight-up rap, with the music. Their
current CD has a title that’s hard to confuse with any other,
“Bourgiebohopostpomoafro Homo,” and they’re working on a new disc,
“The Famous Outlaw League of Proto-Negroes,” due out in the fall on
the Sugartruck/Agitprop/Cellular label. Check out the Web site
gayhiphop.com to sample D/DC’s music.
Another Bay Area artist who is openly gay and has forged an awesome
reputation as an innovative rhymer is Hanifah Walidah. She first hit
the scene in 1994 using the name Sha-Key, having released the
impressive album “A Headnodda’s Journey.” Her single “Soulsville”
was ahead of its time because it fused rap with spoken-word years
before that would become common. Walidah is featured on the new
compilation album “Shame the Devil” (Freedom Fighter Records) which
deals with the prison industrial complex. She’s currently at work on
a hip-hop opera.
Hanifah and D/DC are just a few of the gay artists taking their
rightful places in the world of hip-hop, and these artists are
building upon the trailblazing spirit of earlier gay hip-hoppers.The
Bay Area owes a debt of gratitude to people such as Page Hodell, one
of the first women to do a live mix show on commercial radio, working
the turntables on KSOL in the mid-’80s. She rivaled, and often
surpassed, her male counterparts. Hodell also deejayed and produced
one of the country’s longest-running hip-hop clubs. The Box, as it
was called, ran for more then 10 years in San Francisco, attracted
thousands of clubgoers, mostly gay, and became a Bay Area institution.
Props are also due for Dave Moss, who was on KSOL’s up-and-coming
rival station, KMEL, at the same time as Hodell. KMEL was then known
primarily as a dance station, but on Saturday nights Moss would put
together incredible East Coast-style break beat/hip-hop mixes that are
still talked about today.
DJ Neon Leon, well-known in London and among house music fans
everywhere, started in the mid-’80s as a hip-hop DJ on KALX, the
University of California-Berkeley station. He later earned his
stripes as a Hip Hop club DJ at the now-defunct I-Beam.
We could go on and on naming gay artists who have made an impact on
hip-hop. Gays have always been down with hip-hop. Many have embraced
the culture from day one….The question is: Do we accept our gay
brothers and sistas?
So who is the Gay Rapper? He or she might be the victor of a fierce
rhyme battle or the artist whose record you dance to every time it’s
played on the radio or at a club. So what difference does it make?
written by Davey D for San Jose Mercury News.. please send emails to
July 14 2002