Last month Tegan And Sara singer Sara Kiersten Quin slammed Tyler, The Creator for his ‘homophobic’ lyrics – lyrics that many fans have accepted without question. Hamish MacBain reckons that it’s time we pulled him up on them – and the overall facade of his wordplay
“At the very least, I will know that my voice is on record…” What a horrible note for Sara Kiersten Quin’s open letter on Tegan And Sara’s website – concerning the homophobic lyrics of Tyler, The Creator– to end on. That she has been made to feel, in the way that anyone who pipes up about homophobia in hip-hop lyrics is made to feel, like she is a boring person/stating the obvious/being “old” is just vile. The other day, I wrote something on NME.COM about Wiz Khalifa’s use of the word ‘faggot’ and got more than one comment saying I just “obviously didn’t get hip-hop culture”.
Fuck that. Fuck Tyler, The Creator and his ultra-lame tick-box attempts at shocking people. But more than that, fuck the idea that you can’t pull hip-hop artists up on homophobia, that they can get away with saying it’s just “entertainment” or whatever. Why is it that all the liberal media’s interviews with black American rappers invariably include just the one sheepish “Um, so about the homophobia?” bit, which is quickly dismissed, as though it’s a dull, obvious question? Imagine if ‘Don’t Sit Down ’Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ contained the word ‘faggot’. Alex Turner would be crucified!
“If any of the bands whose records are held in similar esteem as ‘Goblin’ had lyrics littered with rape fantasies and slurs,” Sara also notes in her post, “would they be labeled hate mongers?” Which is exactly the point. The thing that’s most offensive – actually, ‘offensive’ is the wrong word, because would imply that it had some substance – about the homophobia in Tyler’s music is it’s so casual, and clearly just there because it’s what sells to white American teenage dirtbag fucktards.
He and Odd Future clearly aren’t homophobic – and Odd Future contains the openly gay Syd ‘Tha Kyd’ Bennett – so why the hell are they using this language? It’s empty posturing. If they were homophobes, preaching to other homophobes, that would be bad enough. But the fact that they aren’t, that one of them is a lesbian, and that they’re preaching to what you’d hope is a predominately liberal audience (they were picked up first by Fader and Pitchfork, have had a cover story in The Guardian, and been so far ignored by the hip-hop press) makes it even worse.
That’s effectively saying that using ‘faggot’ or ‘gay’ as a put-down is fine in that segment of society, because everyone ‘gets’ that you don’t really mean it. That’s a big assumption. One Sara is right to pull him up on. You should too.
This article originally appeared in the May 28th issue of NME