In a recent Slate article, Jonah Weiner gives an especially resilient rap trend the kind of measured, thoughtful and perceptive reading that hip hop culture rarely receives. After misogyny, rappers’ most persistent regressive tendency is the nearly complete vilification of homosexuality. (There is a sub-sub-culture of gay rappers, as the Village Voice likes to remind us every few years.) As Weiner points out, though, rap’s gay-bashing tendency has changed over the last five years, and he sees the popular phrase “no homo” as a manifestation of that evolving attitude. What, on the face of it, seems like a fairly typical and offensive treatment of homosexuality, Weiner argues, is really an admission that gayness and rap are no longer antithetical. Something in hip hop could conceivably be homo, which is why rappers have taken to specifying “no homo” after a rhyme with homoerotic implications.
And, as with all things in rap, the trend has become so prevalent (see every other Lil Wayne song) that it has mutated: instead of playing down accidental double-entendres, now rappers intentionally stoke their rhymes and videos with more or less homoerotic imagery so they can wield “no homo” as a punchline. Rappers like Cam’ron (pictured) have built their entire persona on playing with the suddenly-blurry line between misogynist-masculine and fabulously gay. Basically, you should read Weiner’s article and then re-think rap’s recent obsession with pink.