If you don't know who Young Thug is, you must be living beneath a cave. The Gucci Mane protégé has two songs that have a stranglehold on rap, "Stoner" and "Danny Glover." Everyone from Nikki Minaj to Waka Flocka Flame has dropped on the latter (perhaps due to their elemental connection to Thug).
What makes Young Thug remarkable is his wild, untamed flow and vocal register. He squawks, squeals and shrills through his tracks uncontrollably. Its abrasive, obnoxious and addictive. In the words of the prophet Noz:
"Dude is just far and above my favorite rap performer right now. And I mean performer in the most literal sense. I’m enamored with his performance."
But, perhaps the most interesting aspect of Young Thug's career, is it appears he may be the first openly gay gangster rapper to achieve national notoriety.
Like A$AP Rocky and Kanye West, Thug wears a lot of effeminate clothing. Skirts, tights and elaborate nail polish patterns, all are part of his wardrobe. Let's make one thing clear: fashion choices don't determine sexuality.
You could be dressed as a human rainbow and be entirely straight. But the reality is, public perception will see you as flaming.
After repeatedly wearing skirts and dresses, A$AP Rocky got mad and claimed they were just long shirts. He should have said:
"Yeah I wear dresses. I love dresses. Anyone who got a problem with that can catch a Boosie fade. Who want it? That's what I thought."
But A$AP Rocky isn't known for his courage. He only started wearing the skirts after Kanye did it first anyway.
The fact that he both wore the dress, and felt the need to pretend it wasn't a dress, just goes to show how twisted we've got things in rap (pop) culture. You're expected to be aesthetically effeminate, but god forbid you actually be gay.
Lil B, as always, set this trend years ago by referring to himself as a "fag," "lesbian" and "pretty bitch" (then A$AP decided years later he was a "pretty motherf*cker"). The Based God dressed in ridiculously tight clothes, and said once:
"I dont know about that word 'metro' or whatever, you feel me. Like metro, I don't know what that shit mean. But I guess it's like this man. I must be a metro GOON, you feel me. Like n*gga, I dress like I'm gay. You feel me. And I might look like I'm gay . But I'm one of the hardest n*ggas in this motherf*cker, you feel me"
Lil B went on to drop the I'm Gay mixtape (no it wasn't his first real album, we still have to wait for that), but with the weak caveat subtitle (I'm Happy) and statements that the title's meaning is that words are meaningless.
Kanye West has plans to marry Kim Kardashian despite longstanding rumors that he is gay, and his proclivity towards female fashion.
All three have associated with vague criminality to various degrees (Kanye the least), and they've all flirted with a rap taboo: the traditional aesthetics of femininity and homosexuality. Despite R&B singer and wildly underrated rapper, Frank Ocean, coming out as bisexual, and the massive success of pretend homosexual Macklemore, the fear of gayness in rap music is thriving. West, Lil B and A$AP Rocky both embrace homosexuality as deserving equality, and some of its traditional wardrobe, but are quick to proclaim their heterosexuality if any serious questioning is underway.
Young Thug is taking things to the next level, both creatively, and flamboyantly.
He wears a "demonic animal print tutu" as described by one video questioning his sexuality. He poses for pictures with men, then captions them as his "babe" or takes a picture like this one, captioned, "Me and my LOVE!!!!!!"
There are several similar posts to this one on his Instagram, with scores of furious, homophobic comments lining them.
Other rappers who proclaim themselves thugs, rap about guns or selling drugs (even on occasion Kanye, who trapped in leather jogging pants extensively in 2000, BEFORE anyone was on that) and flirt with gayness. It seems like Thug, without directly addressing his sexuality, is being public about the fact that he's gay.
How will the rap canon react?
Atlanta, Thug's hometown, is known as one of the gayest cities on earth. Its poorest areas are among some of the most dangerous in the country. Sweeping generalizations are everywhere.
Southern homophobia might as well be a law of physics, so as Thug's popularity swells, what will be the result? It's long been predicted that the first mega-successful, openly gay rapper would be a hardcore gangster act. Gangster Fag even attempted to become that gay crossover act, but unfortunately, to no results.
Perhaps in his bluntness, Thug is showing that the first openly gay rapper won't have to officially declare it. He'll just be himself, and let other people worry about freaking out. Like with Michael Sam, and the discussion of the potential "distraction" he poses, the real issues of defining sexuality are left to those who are afraid.
If Sam is a distraction, or Thug shouldn't be a mainstream, gay gangster rapper, that says more about the insecurities of the world around them. It has nothing to do with how they live, and they're right to ignore it and move forward doing what they do: being elite in their field.
H/T: Byron Crawford, Top Image Courtesy: Instagram