It seems as if hip hop as been on a steady decline in the past years with fewer and fewer real hip hop artists. In my last blog post I posted about how hip hop has been taking the road of rapping about your personal success rather than rapping about your real life and feelings. In “Frank Ocean effect: What happens when a hip hop artist confesses same sex love?” an article on the CNN website, Russell Simmons, who is the founder of Def Jam Records, spoke about “it [was] a big day for hip hop.” Russell Simmons was speaking about Frank Ocean, a R&B and Hip Hop artist, coming out and announcing his homosexuality through his music on his newest album, Channel Orange. According to Russell, by Frank Ocean’s brave step in music, hip hops heartbeat grew that much stronger. Rapping and singing about his life, and his homosexual relationship with another man when he was 19, did not only alter the hip hop world, but set a good example for those who are still in fear about coming out. Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” album continued to remain in the top 5 albums on iTunes for 6 weeks straight. This alone suggest that listeners, fans and critiques were very interested in this turn in hip hop rather than turned off or controversial about the subject of Frank Ocean being gay. Russell Simmons ultimately hopes that this breakthrough in hip hop will set an example to artists who are rising or even to those who are currently in the hip hop “game.”
I think this is true in multiple ways. It re-ignites the small flame that hip hop had and brought it back to its original roots where people rap about meaningful things. Also, the lyrics Frank Ocean incorporates into his music allows the listener to escape with him. In other words, Frank Ocean openly expresses his homosexual feelings towards another man. This sets an example to those who are afraid or unsure whether they want to come out or not. The shift that this caused in the Hip Hop world was not a bad one. It showed that it is not bad to be homosexual as a recording artists. Many artists in Hip Hop such as Lil Wayne and Kendrick Lamar applauded Frank Ocean on this extremely courageous move. This could have been a make or break for Ocean and luckily it worked in his favor. Most of all, this showed everyone; gay or not, to not be ashamed of who they are and I believe that that is the underlying message to it all.
I am not saying that every song should be about a strict reality such as a relationship, but it is in fact better than boasting about your own personal success. Most people think that by Frank Ocean singing about his homosexuality will bring down his career and negatively hip hop culture. For everyone who believes this, hip hop has taken a step forward and the openness of Frank Ocean’s lyrics will set a positive example for the future of hip hop.