Thursday, 5 July 2012

"Will he make it out alive..?"

It's long been a suspicion of mine that part of the reason more rappers and R&B performers choose not to come out is the fear that there'll never again be a point, certainly not in their professional lives, where they won't be expected to discuss their sexuality. It won't make a blind bit of difference whether their music is on some perpetual next shit or if it's landfill. From now on, for a significant part of the media, "who's Frank Ocean fucking?" is always going to be a bigger story than his music. This is pretty depressing.

All the same, this is a big deal whichever way you slice it. Added to which, if your area of business is an idiom where, generally speaking, notions of masculinity are far from fluid, then that's quite a risk you're taking there. It'll be interesting to see how things are looking a couple of albums from now, when we'll know the extent to which the current fuss has shaped Frank Ocean's career path. Right now, as you'd expect, there's no shortage of people ready to declare that this news means they're no longer able to listen to his music, seemingly without a thought for how irrational that might appear. Meanwhile, Chris Brown.

Andrew Noz said something on Twitter that I thought was insightful, but for some reason he chose to delete it a couple of minutes later. I wouldn't want it to get lost in all the noise, though;  

"dude very carefully wrote about a complicated experience only to have it immediately reduced to a soundbite."

Frank's tumblr post is a nice bit of writing, after all, apart from being something of a cultural watershed. But that little observation from Noz also raises the issue of what our reactions, and those of the media, might be saying about us. I think it's perfectly possible to separate the art from the artist; you just have to want to do it. And unless Frank Ocean chooses to be gender-specific, I don't see where the issue is. I don't remember anybody being too bothered by this, and it's clear as fucking day what it's about now...

Speaking of which, isn't it funny who's turned out to be the first rap crew with an actively progressive attitude towards sexual orientation?

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