Sexuality in Hip Hop

Hip hop is notorious for reinforcing patriarchal gender norms that are present in our society.  It is a male dominated genre with many of the very few female artists even blurring the lines between femininity and masculinity through aggressive lyrics and the wearing of mens clothing.  What happens then when a male displays qualities rarely seen in the genre… those of a female?

Frank Ocean is a member of the rap group Odd Future which is led by Tyler the Creator who is known for using a lot of derogatory slurs towards individuals who identify themselves as homosexual.  This made it even more interesting when Frank Ocean decided to release a letter on his tumblr  back in 2012 in which he came out or made it known publicly that he was homosexual.

Some people just disregarded this new information about the artists personal life and continued to enjoy (or dislike) his music just the same as he did before.  But most of us, however, did have our opinions of him and his music altered (both positively and negatively) once finding out about his sexuality.

Numerous people had their opinions of Frank Ocean and his music drastically changed by finding out about his sexuality.  Some disliked it solely because they have strong personal feelings about homosexuality where as some others disliked it because it changes the meanings of his songs and lyrics.

In the song “Thinking About You”, Frank reminisces about someone and misses them wondering if they feel the same way about him.  He never really states the sex of the mystery person.  This song contains the lyrics:

Yes, of course
I remember, how could I forget?
How you feel?
And though you were my first time
A new feel
It won’t ever get old, not in my soul
Not in my spirit, keep it alive
We’ll go down this road
‘Til it turns from color to black and white

The meaning of these lyrics changes when you think about the nature of his sexuality.

Also in the Odd Future song “Oldie” Frank Ocean sings:

“I’m high and im bi, oops I mean I’m straight”

Others showed Frank Ocean love and respect for having the courage to come out even though the genre of music he creates usually conveys messages of sexual conquest of multiple women.

It is already difficult for people to express something that personal about themselves even without the backlash from the whole hip hop culture.  This must have taken a great amount of courage on his part.  Homosexuals viewed him as a spokesperson for the gay community who listens to hip hop and has been largely ignored.

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6 Responses to Sexuality in Hip Hop

  1. dbask005 says:

    How do you feel about people saying he isnt really gay and he made this public weeks before his album realease just to get more fans and sales?

    • While I doubt that he’s faking the gay part it certainly is possible that he timed the release of his statement to coincide with his album so that it would benefit him.

  2. Action Bronson FTW!! Now I love that guy even more.

    But seriously, I find it strange that in the 21st century people care whether or not celebrities are gay. The reason why Frank Ocean caught so much flack, I think, is because he’s gay AND black. Black men are defined in popular culture by their hyper-masculinity, which is captured well by the slang “pause” and “no homo”. Black male celebrities police their public personas with such fervor that they are actually worried that people will think that they’re linguistically gay!

  3. afraser218 says:

    i believe that the sexuality of an artist should not affect the reason for not listening to an artist. They still make good quality music like frank ocean.

  4. I think this is a pretty interesting post, because I think Frankie Ocean started a movement with his blog post on Tumblr. I mean look, you even blogged about it and the commotion that came from it and I’m sitting here commenting back. I agree with Action Bronson, and all the other people who support Frank Ocean after he came out, because I feel that if you change your mind and stop listening to music that you legitimately liked after someone declares their homosexuality it makes you an even weirder person. Hip hop may be a male dominated genre, but when has hip hop ever NOT been groundbreaking and fresh? It always has, and it will continue to be. What Frank Ocean did for hip hop is what Lil Kim did for Nicki Minaj. Lil Kim did what she wanted and said f%#k who doesn’t support me and ended up paving a lane for future female MC’s. Lets thank Frank for doing the same because at least I can stand listening to his music unlike Nicki Minaj’s.

  5. acluv002 says:

    @dbask005 I agree with professor thompson. I dont think that he was faking his homosexuality but I do believe he released it at that time for a reason.

    @Matt Thompson youre probably right. It is a bigger deal because he is black AND gay. Not really sure what people think race has to do with sexuality but I think its more about “black” culture. One race isn’t more prone to being homosexual than others.

    @afraser218 thats how people SHOULD think. If you listened to them before then their sexuality shouldnt really affect that

    @PetePappasODU yea i definitely think he opened up a lane for a lot of people. I was on wshh the other day and I saw some video about a hip hop transgender? I think she sings but I’m not sure. Either way she probably would be less accepted had Frank Ocean not made this announcement

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