The history of hip-hop as a genre and culture has been unwelcoming to the LGBTQ community. While in other genres, gay singers like Elton John and Sam Smith have been pushed by labels, rappers that are gay are vastly outnumbered by their straight counterparts. They’ve had, with few exceptions, less access to industry support such as airplay and news coverage.
But a new wave of hip-hop artists has emerged to challenge these attitudes, potentially ushering in an era of mainstream LGBTQ representation and inclusivity in the world rap game. Keep reading for some of the top gay rappers in the industry.
Homophobia in Hip-Hop
In a 2005 interview with SPIN, 50 Cent stated that homosexuality is taboo in hip-hop: “In hip-hop, there’s (sic) certain standards of things you can’t do. Being gay isn’t cool – it’s not what the music is based on. There’s always been conflict at the center of hip-hop, because it’s all about which guy has the competitive edge, and you can’t be that aggressive if you’re gay.”
With this mindset, it’s no wonder that homophobic language in hip-hop has been treated by so many rappers as an easy way to prove their masculinity. In many instances, hip-hop artists have defended their use of anti-gay language, claiming it as a generic insult.
Eminem, who infamously uses the slur “f*****t” in multiple songs, claimed in a Rolling Stone interview that he never equated the term with homosexuality, but “[i]t was more like calling someone a b**** or a punk or a******.”
LGBTQ Representation in the Rap Scene
Despite apparent resistance from the industry, LGBTQ artists have begun to flourish in hip-hop over the last decade. More artists are out and increasingly incorporating their gender identity into the lyrical and visual elements of their music. Here are some of the biggest LGBTQ hip-hop artists today.
Lil Nas X
Pop star Lil Nas X came out as gay during Pride Month in 2019 while his song “Old Town Road” was number one on the Billboard Hot 100, telling his fans “