New Orleans native, A- list hit ghostwriter (Justin Bieber, Brandy, Jay-Z , John Legend), and alternative Hip-Hop collective member of OFWGKTA, “Christopher Francis Ocean” stage name Frank Ocean did everything right.
By “right” - I refer to his career success in breaking through what is probably, next to alligator wrestling, one of the most dangerous careers anyone bold enough to claim possible bisexuality can embark on; a music career in “No Homo” Hip-Hop. In fact, “Hip-Hop,” with its 43-year successful track record and highly uncommon for a sub culture music genre, is still referred to and proudly credited even today, almost 50 years later, as “No Homo.”
Translation, the Hip-Hop community is anti-Gay. Despite the well-guarded, extremely hypocritical, music industry, glass brick wall of silence, Frank Ocean wrestled the alligator. via his personal Tumblr Blog, http://FrankOcean.tumblr.com, Frank Ocean, came out by admitting a former first love for someone of the same sex. Interestingly enough reputed, “No Homo,” Odd Future major domo, “Tyler the Creator,” was one of the first to support Mr. Ocean. Tyler tweeted in his authentic way, “My big brother finally f—-ing did that. Proud of that n—-a cause I know that sh— is difficult or whatever.” Def Jam Records Co –Founder Russell Simmons declared Ocean’s actions as courageous and honest. Mr. Simmons also went on to write, “Today is a big day for hip-hop. It is a day that will define who we really are.”
Let me share this, as an openly Gay Pop Rock singer songwriter, when I first heard the news about Frank Ocean, I went in “high alert /critical mode.” For over 10 years, through blood sweat, tears, tremendous bigotry and hatred, I independently gathered the love and loyalty of over 25k worldwide multi diverse music fans.
As someone musically representative of 25k true music lovers both Gay and Straight. I needed to get to a clearer truth on a personal level about him. I needed to find out if his “coming out” announcement was part of an advanced market, profit driven, slick ad campaign engineered to boost sales. Had Frank Ocean truly arrived at a point of truth? Luckily for me, my rage against ( “the machine” ) aka music industry’s blatant homophobia over the years has alchemized into multi positions as an indie record label owner, and former magazine COO/Sales and Marketing Director for the groundbreaking, multi- cultural publication, Hot Stepz Magazine.
As an investigative journalist, I decided to deploy my mental utility belt to respectful research before passing judgment. A courtesy I feel the Hip-Hop music community has yet to extend to its LGBQT musical Brothers and Sisters. Happily, what I found in Frank Ocean is a talented (his music chart and song writing success speaks for itself, just ask Beyonce!), earnest man, who’s been walking his talk as a noted industry professional almost immediately since his arrival in LA in 2005.
I might add, he didn’t float in on raft of industry referrals hailing him as the *hit, but as a New Orleans dream driven hopeful, fighter and survivor of the now legendary devastation of Hurricane Katrina. His beloved hometown music studio left ravaged and looted forcing him to go elsewhere to pursue his music dreams.
So as a marketing director, I can tell you that Frank Ocean’s coming out as a publicity stunt is highly unlikely. No advanced marketing team would “bank” on a non –existent anti-Gay Hip-Hop/R&B consumer to stage two, launch an artist such as Frank Ocean.
Even with his considerable chart success for “Novacane” and his respected A-List circle of ghost writing clientele, it would have been disastrous to do so. So to me, a diehard LGBQT music making veteran who proudly claimed an international cross genre/cross sexual fan base this made Frank Ocean a real revolutionary. At his level, he could have easily continued to prosper from his successful song writing credits - but artistically - he felt he would be letting himself down. I applaud him for this. In hindsight, his decision to “come out” cost him commercially, as endorsements dropped and the “heat” of bigotry and hatred rose up around him and his already well respected and established musical career.
To me, music is a vehicle of expression relative to experiences/situations largely influenced by events both personal and environmental. As musical artists, I think we have a choice to honor our gifts conscientiously. The more successful of us are divided into two camps.
One camp is conscientious, entertaining and balanced rewarded by a world of luxury respect and concern for humanity. The other camp decides to reject conscientiousness, spiritual awareness. As a result, they are non-progressive spirits artistically stuck with their feet dangling from a fractured Ferris wheel of non-progressive energy. Camp two can be as talented as camp one and just as financially successful, but at a high cost spiritually and hopefully with a much shorter shelf life. The karma of the music industry overall sucks and I feel Hip-Hop stands out in this because of its community choosing to ignore conscientiously needed change in a lot of areas beyond its blatant homophobia.
Homophobia has been with Hip-Hop since its very first record releases. I’m old enough to bare witness to this and I, ignorantly 43 years ago, purchased most of those musically great early Hip-Hop artists’ tracks that were lyrically spitting in my face, as I foolishly snapped fingers pop locking in idiotic bliss!
Needless to say, I grew up, in addition to “coming out’ at the age of 17, bravely facing the wrath the world had in store for me. Musically, I expected Hip-Hop to do the same, “Grow Up;” that is, not to stay stuck riding the Ferris wheel of ignorance. Musically speaking, when it comes to homosexuals, Hip-Hop, known for its bad ass sub culture rep, seems to have decided to institutionalize hate selling out another community in exchange for the price of a record.
As a black child growing up in the school yards of Fort Greene, Bushwick and Crown Heights, where a lot of original east coast Hip-Hop culture was first created back in the 70’s and 80’s, I feel I have a right to do a serious “call out” on Hip-Hop and ask the community what happened to the growth? Why am I walking these same NY streets still hearing kids and adults spitting anti-Gay hate lyrics, and shouting out across the same streets to each, let’s go kill some homos as a recreation past time, with some of the most notorious Hip-Hop music hate mongers’ music blaring in the background?!
Legendary 80’S Hip Hop Group “Furious Five”.
Realistically, my Hip-Hop music growth expectations were not and are not based on harmonic pipe dreams, in fact, quite the opposite. As I grew up, I became more aware, either through direct personal contact or fact based information, that a huge portion of the Hip-Hop music community: the producers, singers and fans are on the DL (down low/ secretly Gay) and the rewards for their behavior (luxury, fame) is costing the LGBQT community lives. The more hate you perpetrate, the more hate you create. Hate is a form of expression that can often times signify fear and ignorance of the unknown and, in this case, Hip-Hop music includes fear of the yet to be revealed.
If Hip-Hop hadn’t chosen to “Skip class” over the years, when it comes to basic respect for humanity, it would be a simple case of live and let live.
As it should be in the case with Frank Ocean and the hundreds, maybe thousands of Out and Proud LGBQT Hip Hop/R & B music performers and professionals who are stepping into the spotlight.
To the still largely closeted LGBQT / Anti -Gay Hip-Hop community- I say “grow up”. Don’t carry the hate weight of your musical forefathers. Expand yourself and instead of being the snarling dog viciously guarding the revenue food bowl- look around you.
Your Hip Hop/R& B music family is growing.
Times have changed in 43 years; you can still guard your bowl (sell your music) without the attack. Embracing hatred has its cost. Intelligence beacons you to evolve.
Eventually as humanity continues to progress the idolatry and promotion of hate inspired music will weaken the Hip-Hop industry. In other words, if the Hip-Hop community, in particular the “No Homo Crew”, doesn’t self-reflect on the need to promote hate through music, one day they could be snarling over an empty bowl.
PHOTO:OPENLY GAY HIP HOP STAR DEADLEEE
LGBQT people are not the enemy of the Hip-Hop community (we too have been there working and performing since the beginning) hate and selfish ignorance is. Forty-three years later, after the birth of Hip-Hop, there is a new sub music culture on the rise – it’s called human rights. You really shouldn’t have to declare what you know yourself not to be.
Get rid of “NO -HOMO” and just do you.