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“chuckin’ up the deuces” : hip hop and gendered relationship tropes

Chris Brown, primary artist on "Deuces".

I could definitely be accused by some people of looking too closely at rap songs.  Hip hop as a general culture and medium is a poetic one–it allows you to say a whole lot on a short track.  Despite that, the majority of popular/mainstream rap and hip hop has less to do with challenging the listener (like Dead Prez’s “Hip Hop” circa 2000) and more to do with glorifying the “make it rain” status quo, with sends up to luxury brand names like Patron, Louis Vuitton, Seven Jeans, and so on (like Flo Rida’s “Low” circa 2008).

But, to be honest, even in songs like “Chopped n Skrewed” by the auto tune king T-Pain there is a lot to read into.  ”Chopped n Skrewed” is actually a good example of what I want to talk about in this post: the men vs. women mentality that is groomed in the sexes by pop culture.  This concept of loyalty to your own sex and distrust of the other is difficult to put a …

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the new gay’s “top 19 anti-suicide anthems”

Zack Rosen of The New Gay recently put up a quite diverse and well thought out list of songs that complement the overall theme of the “It Gets Better” project.  That is, these are songs to listen when one is feeling down.  Not silly, mindlessly cheerful songs, but songs that are powerful and realistic, that cover topics ranging from personal empowerment to mourning loss.

Of this list, my favorites are “Midnight Radio” from Hedwig and the Angry Inch and “Adventures in Solitude” by The New Pornographers.  To make this list an even 20, I’d add on “On the Bus Mall” by the Decemberists, which tells the story of two gay teen runaways who earn a living turning tricks.  This song is relevant to any young queer who has considered running off to a big city to find like-minded people, even at the expense of financial safety and of leaving one’s family behind.  Running away to a new location doesn’t necessarily make things perfect and easy, but the act of claiming one’s own identity and of finding community can definitely improve one’s mindset.  As one character urges the other “pocket your pills away, …

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notable queers: vivek shraya

Image from vivekshraya.com

Vivek Shraya is a synth pop artist from Toronto who has shared the stage with artists such as Tegan and Sara, Team Dresch and Melissa Ferrick and who seems well on his way to becoming a Renaissance man.  I immediately felt a kinship with Vivek after checking out an Xtra! interview with him where he expressed that “queer visibility is paramount” and also after noticing that he is originally from Edmonton, Alberta, which is incidentally one of the two Canadian towns I have ever visited.

Aside from releasing five albums of electropop, Vivek has recently released a collection of 20 short stories, God Loves Hair.  The official release description of it states,

God Loves Hair is an exploration of sexuality, gender, racial politics, religion and belonging through the eyes of a tender and intellectually curious child. These twenty short stories follow the protagonist into realms he sometimes doesn’t understand but he emerges with the poignant insight, sophistication, and honesty that only the voice of a young mind can convey. Each story is accompanied by …

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the irony of katy perry's success

Katy Perry is a player that I love to hate.  I initially researched her for a gender studies paper about lesbians in the music industry and learned a variety of strange Katy Perry trivia.  I haven’t thought much about her since then, until I saw the amazing video of this year’s AIDS/LifeCycle participants remaking Perry’s hit “California Gurls.”

This video is utterly fantastic, but reminded me of what irks me most about Perry – that she has made a fortune for herself mocking the very subculture that she exploits.  I’m not usually interested in the lives of artists outside of their music, and I am definitely not of the opinion that one has to identify as queer in order to care about/be involved in LGBTQ issues, but Perry’s sheer hypocrisy just rubs me the wrong way.  Perry is very open about the fact that she has never actually engaged in any type of queer sexual behavior, clarifying in a hilarious interview with The New Gay that her …

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"no homo": homosexual fear and loathing in the rap community

I have heard through the internet grapevine (grape-tubes?) that young people have a new phrase to ward off the terrifying prospect of being mistakenly identified as homosexual.  So the next time you’re drunk and telling your frat bro how much you love him, simply follow it up with “no homo” and he’ll know that it’s still just a hetero bromance between you.  Worried about buying a guy friend a beer?  Still want to give your tackle football buddies a friendly slap on the ass after an excellent turnover?  “No homo” is here for you!

Now, to be honest, I hadn’t heard the phrase “no homo” before a couple of days ago.  I was browsing Facebook when I saw someone wearing a t-shirt that said “ARMY: NO HOMO” in their profile picture.  My interest was piqued instantly.  The shirt was decidedly professional looking, and after a short round of searching I discovered that it was once a product offered by the often irreverent and sometimes offensive BustedTees.  The “Army: No Homo” shirt is now notably no longer available, but the URL and photographic evidence remain.