Friday, 9 January 2009

Banging on the wrong door?

I was at the copy shop today getting something scanned and I read the facebook conversation Ali, the guy working there had open - he and a friend were typing back and forth "you are black gay, no you are black gay, no you are black gay, no you..." - writing it here it looks like flirting.
I can't be bothered to go over the fact that black men as a group seem to be the least accepting people in the world when it comes to homosexuality. What I wonder about is whether there will ever be a day they discover someone who's music they adore (particularly hip hop) is in fact, gay, and instead of trying to kill that person (or themselves), they just get over it because the music's so good.
I've always been interested in the argument that "issue based" art in the past has often been seen as compromised - that the issue intereferes with or limits the purity of expression. I doubt many people would take that view any more. Art has become accessible to the masses and that democratisation to an extent points the judging finger away from lofty heirarchical whimsy and firmly towards quality and talent. You can be as angry as you like even if it's your debut single - if you're Kelis.
What happens however, if you're not very talented and you're only making "art" to express your own personal issues? I was trying to find an openly gay hip hop act - suprisingly easy - who was actually really good - not so easy. I came across the Homo Revolution Tour 2007 headlined by Deadlee (he does look like an LA gangster but then vests, big muscles and tatts - the line between the homoerotic and extreme machismo has always been blurry). Guilty pleasure time:

I listened to every song on the Homo Revolution site and was disappointed. As is often the case art categorised and grouped by issue rather than artistic quality can suffer and become 'ghettoised' - weaker artists are lumped in together with talented people and the message and music become lost and sidelined. At the end of the day no one will care who you're shagging and how people judge and harass you because of it if you sound so bad they have to turn the song off immediately.
That's why Yo Majesty are great. Three black, Christian lesbians making their own blend of hip hop/ baltimore club/ electro/ booty breaks with some rather unique lyrical content. Who they are is informing their music but it's not gimmicky or weak. Break Bread (clk to D/L) and Club Action were two of my favourite club tunes last year and you can catch them live in London this March. Be warned however - Shunda K tends to perform topless (well if LL & Fiddy can do it) and you'd best behave yourselves...


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