I despise that all three Migos are homophobic, but no one would ever catch me skipping over a chance to listen to “Chinatown” or “Bad and Boujee” or even the version of “Versace” without Drake’s verse. I absolutely detest XXXtentacion, but everyone who knows me is aware that “YuNg BrAtZ” is one of my favorite songs. And there is no universe in which I wouldn’t think Kodak Black should be jail, but I also don’t want to live in a world where I can’t rap “No Flockin” all the way through when it comes on.
More often than ever before, supporting Black music has been coming at the price of compromising my morality and my feminism. As more music is released, more artists are being outed as abusers, misogynists and homophobes.
Just last week, Young Thug, whom I often, only somewhat jokingly, declared the “best rapper ever,” was exposed by his now ex-fiance for cheating on her — an offense that in and of itself, didn’t warrant his music stop being listened to. But, she responded by leaving him and tweeting that she was on the market, which he followed with threatening that she was going to die — obviously something that would warrant some sort of boycott of Young Thug.
Nothing happened to Young Thug because of this. There was a small response on Twitter and then everyone was back to blasting “Hercules” loud enough for others to hear it in passing through cheap Apple headphones.
There is so much conflict surrounding Black male artists who are abusive in any way, but the bottom line is few fans are willing to stop listening to what they love. This is mainly because it wouldn’t be easy to boycott people who commit moral offenses and find new artists. It is far easier to enter “The Race” into a search bar and brace yourself for all the negativity that Tay-K is about to put forth over a great beat. Easy is almost never better for society.
Being a bad feminist is especially hard in this regard. Rap is about authenticity and personal experience and I have never wanted to hear fraudulent rappers trying to pretend they’ve been through struggles they haven’t. Sometimes this comes at the price of listening to people who have committed crimes talk about them and normalize them.
Rap has always been about authenticity and expression, and rarely has it occurred without being laced in misogyny and the perpetuation of rape culture. There’s long been hatred of all of the ways women are objectified and looked down upon and demonized in rap, and I agree with all of that. But to cease listening to rap would be to relinquish an entire part of my internal self. In some ways it’s just entertainment that I should feel willing to give up to be morally sound — but in more ways — it’s my identity.
It really isn’t possible to support art without supporting the artist who produces it, because in this day and age, where streaming music is the norm, every single listen is change in the artist’s pocket. In order to show that fans are serious about there being an end to rappers being terrible people, there would have to be organization and an official boycott. But until that spirit of “enough is enough” materializes into movement, or people decide that they can separate their actual selves from the culture of rap, separating art from the artist is not a viable option.