Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Much to Lord Jamar's chagrin, progressives still long for the emergence of a gay rap planet. With due respect to Le1f and Caushun, the first gay rapper was a woman (no Latifah). He was transgendered (no Big Freedia). He also didn't exist.

Much has been made of DJ Screw's avant-garde pedigree; less has been said about his experiments in gender deconstruction. As a young pimp on the ski slopes of Jackson Hole, one of my bunnies introduced me to a now well-worn explication of lady rappers. "Ayo," she said as she shredded some buttery pow. "Lil' Kim is dope cause she rap about the same shit a man rap about. She appropriating machismo 'n' shit!" Mind: blown. I nearly skied into a tree.

By now, expressions of lady loin-lust are taken for granted. But it still gives pause to hear a hardened homothug outta Brooklyn talkinbout, Could he come over right fast and fuck my pretty ass? / I'll pass / Nigga, the dick was trash. Inverted, the anthem of a woman asserting her right to cunnilingus becomes a campy gay song about eating ass.

Call Screw an avant-gardist all you want. The argument bears out, but it's applying a European tradition to a wholly American artist. The avant-garde is a German in pancake makeup wearing triangles on his head. It's contrived weirdness. Screw was more nuanced because he worked within a folk-cum-popular vein. And as with the invention of a nonexistent transgender rapper, it's what made him a truly transgressive artist.

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