Was This the Decade Hip-Hop Finally Moved Past Its Homophobia?
Looking back at all the artists who came out in the 2010s, it’s easy to think that the culture matured. Not so fast.
There may be no better allegory for the state of hip-hop today than the seven shots that blipped Saucy Santana onto mainstream rap’s radar barely two weeks ago. In mid-December, the 26-year-old rapper and two of his friends were shot and wounded while scouting video locations in Miami; while no suspects have been questioned as of this writing, Santana is sure of their motivation.“It happened out of nowhere,” he told NBC. “Everybody isn’t going to be accepting of the type of artist that I am.”
The type of artist that he is isn’t easy to find on Rap Caviar or Billboard charts: When the Tallahassee trapper-ternt-emcee saunters onto a stage, his bodacious fake lashes, designer booty shorts, and Chanel bags come, too. All of which explains why, when #Santana started trending on Twitter in the wake of the shooting, most people checked in on Carlos and Juelz before they got to Saucy — if they knew of Saucy at all.
For the uninitiated heads, I imagine that seeing a full-figured, glossy-lipped, Gucci’ed-down gay Black man behind the name came as a surprise. And there’s a perverse upside for Santana, who thankfully came through without lasting injury — rappers have found notoriety through tragedy before, and better this than making like Gravy and Cheddar Bobbing himself. Yet, the situation proves a disappointingly fitting end to a decade in which hip-hop supposedly erected a bigger tent.
Scanning the flashpoints of the last 10 years, it’s easy to think hip-hop has finally shaken off the homophobia that lingered throughout its life. First came Lil “Tiny Pants” B, whose 2011 album I’m Gay showed love to his LGBTQ fans in order to start a conversation around homophobia. The next year, Frank Ocean celebrated the release of his album Channel Orange by coming out as queer — an unburdening that was all the more unprecedented for the fallout that never came. Odd Future had already cultivated a fan base ready to move past the status…