The internet and blogs have been abuzz with the recent allegations of legendary Hip Hop producer and popular radio DJ, Mister Cee, 44-years old, who was arrested for lewd acts with a 20-year old young man. It sent a shock wave throughout the Hip Hop community. A blow that knocked everyone off their feet. So much so, that radio personalities Funkmaster Flex and Ed Lover came to the defense of Mister Cee discounting the story as bogus and a hoax.
I watched and read the blogs and reader’s comments. Some were understanding and wanted to talk about Hip Hop’s dirty little secret of down low and gay men in Hip Hop. Others were not so kind. They ranted and raved about gays and their deviant behavior. I also listened as fans called into one particular radio station with their views on Mister Cee and answered the day’s topic, “Is Hip Hop homophobic? And, can a Hip Hop artist come out in society today?”
I thought to myself, “Yes, Hip Hop is homophobic. And, of course not. An artist cannot come out today and have a successful career in Hip Hop.” And, here’s why: Hip Hop is a culture and environment which does not provide a safe place for an artist to come forward or to come out. If you listen to many rap lyrics they promote hate and gay-bashing. It is an environment where the thug and gangster mentality is prevalent. Artists boast of a hyper-masculine bravado, with their crotch-grabbing, degradation of women, and their braggadocios lyrical slaying about the number of women they’ve slept with and children they’ve produced. And, let’s not forget the popular sayings, “No Homo,” or “Pause,” which many in the Hip Hop community preface their statements with when someone makes a comment (“I like the way dude dress,” Or, “His body is crazy,” And, “Dude is a pretty boy”) about another person of the same sex.
Here’s another reason why: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was the motto for the military for many years. If you were someone who was gay, the military didn’t want to know. They didn’t want your kind in its services. Basically, they wanted you to keep it to yourself. In other words, HIDE! The same goes for Hip Hop. There is a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, where the artists, executives, and fans do not want to know, or should I dare say, refuse to believe that a Hip Hop artist could be gay. Yes, I know. It’s time to repeal this policy in Hip Hop, too.
Well, some three years ago, I penned my memoir and it, too, sent shockwaves throughout the Hip Hop world. My book, Hiding In Hip Hop: On The Down Low in the Entertainment Industry From Music to Hollywood, detailed my life as a down low man who was part of a gay subculture within the entertainment industry, particularly Hip Hop, who hid our sexuality from the outside world. I provided detailed accounts of my relationships, both intimate and personal, with some of Hip Hop’s royalty, and our bedside secrets. Moreover, the book was about my journey and struggle to come to terms with who I am as a gay man hiding in a very homophobic and highly misogynistic and testosterone driven culture which thrives on glorifying the gangster thug mentality. So, I knew the dangers and threat I faced every day, for fifteen years, if I chose to disclose my sexuality.
The derogatory comments that were made in my presence by my colleagues were heart-wrenching and cruel. It pained me to hear their thoughts expressed openly and honestly. These same persons who worked in Hip Hop, a culture they preached that was about unity and breaking down the cultural divide. Really? It’s obvious to me that Hip Hop isn’t so much about understanding and unity because if it was then we wouldn’t be here today discussing the shocking allegations of Mister Cee and his lewd acts, would we? I personally feel many men and women would openly live their lives without shame and judgment if Hip Hop was more understanding and more accepting. But, let’s take a look at the intellectual level of Hip Hop, which is over two decades old and is considered a mature age, yet, it has the intellectual level of an immature reckless child. Don’t believe me, turn on any urban radio station and listen to the lyrics pouring over the airwaves, and then look at the state of the Black community, and its children who follow Hip Hop and are die-hard fans.
I also find it particularly disturbing that the many people who have helped to shape, create, and build Hip Hop are the same persons who are now in their late thirties, forties, and fifties, and still are unable to have an intelligent discourse on sex, sexuality, and homophobia in Hip Hop. Yes, they are older and wealthier, but only by monetary means, not in intelligence. So, when will Hip Hop grow up?
I challenge Hip Hop today. I challenge the community to stop burying their heads in the sand when it comes to gay men and women who are in Hip Hop. I challenge Funkmaster Flex and Ed Lover, who are legends in Hip Hop, and who have loyal followers, to stop discrediting and discounting that gay men and women are a part of Hip Hop. I am sure they, and many others, are not that naïve to believe their fellow comrades, colleagues, and friends can’t possibly be gay and be a part of Hip Hop. Stop being afraid to have the dialogue about your fellow colleagues who have helped shape and build Hip Hop into the global phenomenon it is. We are in all aspects of it as artists, executives, producers, songwriters, directors, publicists, and managers. But, moreover, it is time for all of us to stop hiding. If we cannot be who we are without fear of the backlash, judgment, and criticism, then we will continue to have people hiding in Hip Hop.
This allegation against Mister Cee is not the first, and nor will it be the last that we will hear of a man being caught with his pants down. But, if Hip Hop is to eventually grow up, and stop being afraid to discuss the underlying problem that plague our community – sex, sexuality, and homophobia, then Hip Hop will continue to not serve its purpose, people, and vision. As the bible states, when there is no vision the people will perish. Let’s save ourselves, our community, our people, and our culture. Stop dumbing down, discrediting and insulting the intelligence of the people. Yes, Hip Hop, there are gay men and women who make up the culture and have been a part of it since its inception.