In the wake of Lil B titling his next album I’m Gay, and the DJ Mister Cee scandal, in which the Hot 97 personality was arrested after receiving fellatio from a man, according to Police reports, the topic of homophobia in hip-hop is sparking discussion. While little’s been said about Cee’s arrest aside from 50 Cent lending his support, Lil B has people talking. GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, told XXL they hope B’s title isn’t a gimmick, while Freddie Gibbs, Talib Kweli and Killer Mike, had mixed reactions. Terrance Dean also has something to say. A former MTV Producer, he released Hiding in Hip-Hop: On the Down Low In the Entertainment Industry in 2008. The book documented a down low subculture in hip-hop he considers prevalent behind the scenes. XXL caught up with Dean to get his thoughts on the Mister Cee scandal and what Lil B’s album title could mean for gays in hip-hop, among other things. —Nicole Lopresti
XXLMag.com: What do you think about him naming his album I’m Gay and not being gay?
Terrance Dean: Well, yeah, that’s what I thought was ironic. It immediately took me back to the campaign we did at MTV where we said, “I have AIDS.” Will Smith, a lot of artists and celebrities were wearing the T-Shirts that said, “I have AIDS.” I think we have to realize that we are all a part of the community of hip-hop, so regardless of if it’s someone who’s gay or someone of a different color, you know, whatever faith, religion, things like that, we’re still called and build the body of hip-hop. It’s almost like you can’t deny yourself and still be a part of yourself, so for him to say, “I am gay,” it’s almost like a declaration saying, “You know what? There are gay people that make up hip-hop or are a part of it who help keep it going and who help idolize and be a part of the body of hip-hop.” Plus, we’re all gay in hip-hop. We’re all gangstas, we’re all whatever each person wants to say what they are a part of hip-hop. I think he’s revolutionary. I think with his lyrics and him thinking outside of the box with what he’s done so far as an underground artist, and I think he’s a part of a new guard that needs to be changed in hip-hop. It’s so antiquated. You look at hip-hop, you know there are—the people are old and 30 and 40 and 50 years old who are still trying to hold on to the way hip-hop used to be and not realizing that hip-hop is no longer the antiquated way that it used to be. There’s a new generation. New thoughts of hip-hop. That’s progressive. These young kids are very progressive.
XXL: You feel like Lil’ B’s a part of a more accepting generation?
TD: Exactly. Kids today are so much more accepting, so much more progressive in their thoughts. They have Twitter. They have Facebook. They have a new age way of communicating that we didn’t have before, so it was easier to suppress and keep things secret. That’s the hiding in hip-hop. We were able to do that because we didn’t have cell phones, video phones where we can leak pictures, leak a video. That technology didn’t exist, where today, kids have more accessibility to all those things. Especially with now for television to have, you know, images of gay people who are coming out in Hollywood, who are more than a part of the culture. That helps entertainment keep moving as far as Ellen [Degeneres] and Rosie O’ Donnell] and Andy. Those are the people. Clay Aiken, all those people who are coming forward.
XXL: Would it offend you, though, if Lil B’s whole motive was to garner this buzz and almost using the word “Gay” as a ploy?
TD: Well, I wouldn’t find it offensive as a ploy. I think it’s great marketing.
XXL: So you acknowledge it as a marketing tool?
TD: Yeah, but that’s because I come from the entertainment industry and I come from hip-hop. I know that everything is all about marketing, it’s all about the campaign, the branding, you know? It’s about how you position yourself and how you sell. I understand it, and I think people are much more savvy and smarter today than they were 10 or 15 years ago. I don’t think the public are that naive to believe that like, “Oh, wow! I don’t think this is a gimmick that he is doing.” I think they’re much more smarter now, and I think we do a disservice to a lot of people. We discredit them and play on their intelligence because the audience is very intelligent.
XXL: So what do you think about the whole Mister Cee situation?
TD: I think the reason why people such as Mister Cee, because it’s alleged and we have to wait ‘til June, which is ironically when my next book comes out, Mogul, which is ironically eerily similar to Mister Cee’s situation. But, I think what prevents a lot of men from coming out and acknowledging their sexuality is because we miss a whole section of men who identify as bisexual. So they don’t know. I think because we dismissed that part of the LGBT conversation, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. We always forget the B, which is bisexual. And I think men who could be like Mister Cee, who are probably bisexual and who enjoy sex relationships with men and women, don’t know that that’s who they are because we tend to bump them in the category of, “Well, you’re with this man, so automatically, you’re gay…or you’re on the down-low.” And it’s like, well, no because there is that B-word, which is like bisexual. He could very much so, like a lot of men in hip-hop could be, bisexual, but they’re afraid to admit it. I don’t think they’re ready to admit to themselves. I don’t think women are ready to have that conversation of acceptance of letting a man be bisexual, when it’s very accepting of women to be.
TD: For men, I think it’s a very touchy and scary place because you almost run a fine line, where people are going to automatically say, “Well, you’re gay.” And he may not identify as being gay. He just likes sex with both sexes.
XXL: People seem very supportive of Mister Cee.
TD: You definitely want to rally for him and cheer for him and root him on and support him, but he has to be in that space of wanting to be supported, of wanting to be nurtured, wanting to be rallied. I think it’s interesting because you realize, he didn’t say anything. It was the people around him who spoke first. But, again, there were the old guard who were saying, “No, it can’t be true. It’s not possible and don’t you dare.’ It goes back to that old thought. [The old guard] is two decades from some of the younger people who are probably thinking, “Well, what’s the big deal? What if he is?’ You know? He’s been your friend all of this time. You’ve been supportive of his career. And they’ve clearly have said that. He’s been this great impact and the voice of what he’s done and the power of what he did in hip-hop, so what would change with him being gay? That would make it much more powerful.
*HIT THE NEXT PAGE TO SEE WHAT TERRENCE DEAN THINKS ABOUT RAPPERS USING PAUSE AND NO HOMO*