Hip Hop Comes out… Sort of


Last week VH1 and the Love and Hip Hop brand delivered a round table discussion that was actually positive. No fighting, cursing word wheeling, slander filled conversations, but civil dialogue. They brought people of color together for a civilized conversation about a social, religious and cultural topic, Homosexuality in the Hip Hop Culture.
The show was navigated by journalist and ABC anchor and television personality, T.J. Holmes.
Holmes navigated the broad topic and was accompanied by noted hip hop artist DMC and Big Freedia. Among the panelists included Ray J, Fizz, and Emil Wilbekin, Pastor Delman Coates, Buttahman, Clay Cane, Chuck Creekmur , and Michael Arceneaux.
The show began discussing Miles (a participant in the show Love and Hip Hop LA) coming out process, internal conflict he faced, as well as what reality he may face from a very religious black family and being a up and coming hip hop artist.
Miles discussed not wanting to be shunned and or disowned by his family and disregarded by his church. Admittedly I had not watched much of Love and Hip-Hop LA this season, but Mile’s story resonated with me. Over the past 9 years, I began to accept my sexuality (all be it in stages) I’ve encountered so many men who are held captive by the love they fear they will lose by being who they simply are. Their taste in clothes doesn’t change, their mannerisms won’t change, their respect for their family won’t change and their love of God or their spiritual being wouldn’t change. However their family and some friends would surely reject them for not having the same attraction.
The show was a dartboard of topics, but T.J. Holmes did a great job of navigating things and keeping the show moving. Of the topics on the show, one of the most heated exchanges took place around religion and hip-hop’s effect on participants and listeners of hip hop. The panel discussed religion and its role in keeping people closeted. The irony was that hip hop artists who degrade women, glorify a gluttonous lifestyle, and degrade their brother’s and sisters could then have a moral compass was the elephant in the room.
The topic was very interesting as you could see the stage of religious leaders was definitely split. As Pastor Delman Coates, eloquently explained Jesus himself never mentions anything about same sex love, marriage or interactions. He put into context the mentioning of homosexuality in the bible and explained the church should be welcoming same gender loving members without commenting on their respective private life.

This topic could have been an entire show by itself. Pastor Jamall Bryant on via Skype providing counseling and prayer for the afflicted gays while Pastor Delman Coates lauded the church to welcome everyone and to love the individuals regardless of sexuality. He touched on not nitpicking sins.

The show progressed so much and discussed stories and impacts of words like “faggot” or “fag” so much that several of the artists on stage stood up to announce they wouldn’t use it having witnessed the conversation of how those words effected so many.
Perhaps the most poignant moment aside from Pastor Delman Coates was the point Emil Wilbekin made. The former Vibe Magazine editor in chief, stated that straight men and hip hop in particular will wear clothes designed and styled by a gay man, but mock, disrespect, and ridicule a gay man. Again the irony in the conversation was abounding. A community that feels like “non-black” artists exploit hip hop, yet they will exploit the styles created by gay men.
I’ve often wondered how the individuals (rappers / hip-hop artists) who by in large don’t contribute positive images of young African-American youth in their artistry can then get so spiritual and religious to condemn someone else. Surely there are worse things than being gay, unless of course you’re black and then you could have sold drugs in your neighborhood that led to countless deaths, arrests, and subsequent spiraling activities that leave many African Americans stuck.
We have to begin to evaluate how we’ve defined a group of people who aren’t bad just based on their sexuality (LGBT Community). They aren’t demonic and they aren’t evil. We instead need to have a higher level of consciousness that makes us evaluate individuals based on their works and their words. I’ve seen more young men and women influenced by artistry that doesn’t represent reality and instead crafts an invisible cage around their mind. Let’s start to look past sexual preferences and start to just make good quality music. Something to make us feel good, make is move, and hopefully motivate us.
Check out the link below to #OutinHipHop


Earned it! 

This weekend I took my sister to see Fantasia. The former American idol winner and Grammy award winner performed in Beaumont, TX to an audience of about 5,000 people.

Despite a crowd that was relatively small Fantasia put on quite a show. Complete with a full band, lights, background vocalists and a smooth transition through many of her fan favorites and her favorite songs. From the moment she hit the stage her energy, her bands energy, and the audiences energy was high!

One thing that stood out is Fantasia sung every song live and did so without losing script, but displaying emotion to take every audience member on a journey. There were married men, married women, gay men, gay women, old men, old women and everyone at some point were on their feet singing along to at least one song.

After that show it was safe for me to say that, Fantasia is arguably one of the most underrated artists. You won’t find many artists who sing live and sound just as good on their record.

She even threw in a few dance moves and gave her band members an opportunity to shine. She remixed a few of her songs to create jazz, rock and roll, and mid tempo versions. Did I mention she performed with a full band?

It’s sad to say that my ticket was a little over $50 and for that price and the drive to Beaumont I felt like I owed her money. She poured her soul and her emotions out on that stage and she did so with class.

Imagine if artists who work hard to not miss a note, showed up on time, sang live, and interacted with the audience. Instead today far too many artist with subpar voices, lackluster lyrics and simply a cute look receive way more attention and charge more for a lot less show.

I look forward to the day when vocalists and performers make a return and receive the accolades, the attention, and compensation for the work they put in. Despite what I considered to be a small crowd she was just as gracious and just as pleasant. Cheers to Fantasia!


Click for Concert Footage: Fantasia Concert Footage