No homophobia? Hip-hop's anti-gay tone shifts

Published: August 23, 2012

NEW YORK — Snoop Dogg has rapped in songs where the f-word — the other f-word — has been tossed about. He’s even said it, part of a long list of rappers who have freely used the gay slur in rhyme.

For years, anti-gay epithets and sentiments in rap have largely been accepted, along with its frequent misogyny and violence, as part of the hip-hop culture — a culture that has been slow to change, even as gays enjoy more mainstream acceptance, particularly in entertainment.

But while perhaps glacial, a shift appears to be on the horizon.

"People are learning how to live and get along more, and accept people for who they are and not bash them or hurt them because they’re different," Snoop Dogg said in a recent interview.

Frank Ocean may be largely responsible for that. The rising star, who revealed on his blog last month that his first love was a man, is technically an R&B singer. But he has produced and collaborated with some of music’s top hip-hop acts, from Jay-Z to Andre 3000 to Kanye West to Nas. He’s also co-written songs for Beyonce, Justin Bieber and John Legend, and is a member of the alternative rap group Odd Future.

"When I was growing up, you could never do that and announce that," Snoop said of Ocean’s revelation. "There would be so much scrutiny and hate and negativity, and no one would step (forward) to support you because that’s what we were brainwashed and trained to know."

When 24-year-old Ocean made his announcement, he received a ton of support from the music world, mainly through Twitter and blogs, including encouraging words from 50 Cent, Nas, Jamie Foxx, Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons, Beyonce and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Even Ocean’s Odd Future band mate, Tyler, the Creator, showed some love, though he’s used homophobic slurs in his songs.

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