As far as publicity stunts go, you’d expect nothing less from a rapper who has been clever enough to name songs in the past after some of the most Google-searched celebs.
From Charlie Sheen to Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and even Ellen DeGeneres, rapper Lil B may not have a keen understanding of the lyricism it takes to have a prolonged rap career but the 23-year-old certainly understands how to make a statement.
When the viral sensation announced last weekend at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival that he would be naming his upcoming album, I’m Gay, it turned a ton of heads in the rap and LGBT communities. The concern being completely unique to each group.
The hip-hop community is once again faced with its glaring history of homophobia being thrown right into their face whereas the gay community has to worry if this ploy is sincere or simply another gimmick.
But maybe this isn’t a stunt at all and it’s there that Lil B finds himself stuck in an interesting dilemma.
He told The Advocate, the oldest LGBT publication in the country, that he chose the controversial title to prove that words didn’t matter.
How do you expect to show the impotency of words by using them to prove their insignificance? There was a time when being controversial in hip-hop was Chuck D saying f**k Elvis and John Wayne or N.W.A. telling the police to do the same. Now, making those same sort of waves in the hip-hop community have less and less to do with what you’re actually saying but the statement you’re trying to make.
Lil B’s statement had better be more than a childish ploy to get fans to hashtag #ImGay once they buy the album so he can snicker in front of his laptop because he’s got bigger eyes on him.
In a statement to XXL magazine, a GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) spokesperson said, “As a lyricist, Lil B knows that words matter. Slurs have the power to fuel intolerance…we hope that Lil B’s album title is not just a gimmick, and is really a sincere attempt to be an ally. He has the platform and the voice. We hope he uses it in a positive way.”
The platform he has is completely unexpected.
He’s built a remarkable following considering his introduction to the mainstream, 2007’s hit “Vans” as member of the California based group, The Pack, had ‘one hit wonder’ written all over it.
Now, he’s parlayed that into a booming solo career, affiliations with artists like Soulja Boy and a viral celebrity that has more than just underground bloggers typing away but major media outlets paying attention.
But he has been accused of publicity stunts before. In 2010, video of him getting into a physical altercation hit the internet with many claiming it to be fake and he claiming it was just some kid he went to school with that was years behind him, trying to make a name.That said, he’d created his own lane as ‘the Based God’ using his own definition for the term based he describes as being yourself and not being worried about outside opinions of you.
When making his announcement at Coachella, many in the crowd laughed and snickered, he used his platform to explain his rationale, flawed albeit compelling.
“I’m just gonna tell you. So many people be worried about what people mean and definitions of words and shit…. Now, I like women, I love women, you feel me? But within yourselves, no matter what you do, it doesn’t matter, it’s like live life. You’ve only got one life to live. Be happy.”
That sentiment was strangely believable but what advocacy groups really want to know is will he follow through?
Considering in June 2010 he told Complex magazine his fascination with homosexuality was “a very touchy subject” before continuing, “I respect the hell out of gays and the gay community. I’m not a gay man. I don’t agree with sex with another man or f**king another man or giving blow jobs to another guy. That’s not my thing. I’d rather f**k a girl, f**k her in her ass, f**k her in the mouth or something.”
In that same interview he acknowledged that he isn’t surprised people questioned his own sexuality after he released freestyles like “I’m A Fa**ot” and “Pretty B*tch” saying, “people get scared when they hear the gay word, but when you truly know yourself, you gonna be good.”
Sort of a sunny disposition when the hip-hop community still has no mainstream only gay talent and the ones who have come out are destined to quaint, underground followings or complete shunning.
Hip hop’s tolerance for gays in the genre seems to be completely one-sided. While many seem fine with women who are with women, no male artist has yet to cross that threshold. Recent headlines about legendary New York DJ, Mister Cee, the man who, for all intensive purposes, introduced us all to the Notorious B.I.G., possibly being gay forced many artists to ask themselves if they really care at the end of the day and does it negate any of his past work if it’s true.
The live and let live mantra of Lil B may be permeating the culture somewhat but many would agree its a generation away or maybe just a kid trying to be funny, biting off more than his gold covered teeth could chew. He already claims the album will make history, the streets are watching now to see what kind.