Video Director Vashtie Kola Talks About Her ‘King’ Title
Homophobia is a big issue in hip-hop right now with things like Lil B’s album title and the Mister Cee incident. What do you think of how hip-hop is handling its homophobia? Do you see room for growth?
Well I grew up with a gay brother who’s older than me. I’ve been pretty much surrounded by the gay community— a lot of my friends are gay. So I feel very strongly and supportive [of] the gay community. And I think that in hip-hop it’s always like a very tricky situation, with men in general.
Why do you think that is?
Again, going back to masculinity, it’s always important to be masculine and not be soft or gay. But I think that it’s really weird that in 2011, especially in hip-hop that there hasn’t been any wave or any moves toward the future of, “You know what, there’s this rapper, he’s gay, and he’s out and who cares?” You know? I think that if there were, there would definitely be a whole lot less bullying going on, especially in the hip-hop community. And it might take a few martyrs for that, but it would be great because I think you have a lot of young people who look up to these people. And maybe they have parts of them that isn’t public with their sexualities. But I think that if they were public with it, a lot of kids would feel good about themselves and they wouldn’t have this self-hatred where they wouldn’t be committing suicide. I know that’s extreme, but I think that there’s a lot of that going on with young people. And I think it’s really important for people who are in this world and in this industry especially to kind of make changes with it. Even if people in the industry aren’t gay, just creating a safe place. I think we’re beyond that and I think it’s time that people just start to move in that direction. I mean honestly, who cares? I think if someone were to come out and it were to be an issue, I think that you have to [have] the attitude that, “this is what it is, let’s just move on.” I think it’s so crazy that it’s still a very big issue.
As a person who predicts trends for a living, how do you see the culture growing and changing in the near future?
Well, I don’t know… [Recently] I think it’s gone from being basically street culture, mainly hood culture, to going universal. I think now it’s expanding and there aren’t that many borders. There’s a lot of rappers who didn’t even grow up in the hood. They’re coming from the suburbs or they’re coming from the country. I think that speaks volumes about the culture. How much it’s evolved. And I think that eventually all of our gripes about what hip-hop should be is going to probably diminish. I think that it’s just gonna open up and be what it was initially about—just the music and the expression.
Are you happy with the state of women in hip-hop?
Oh yeah, I think so. I think that in the last 10-15 years, women have really come into their own in this genre. I’ve seen a lot of women just kind of make moves and have inspired other women to do things… Models and actresses have really gone from just being cute girls in the videos to getting a lot of respect… And then also behind the camera— women directing and producing. And even women executives in the music industry. It probably existed beforehand, but I think that it’s really coming to the forefront now and I think creating examples for other young women who are interested in this genre and can see themselves in this community.
Are you actively aware of how your moves inspire other women in hip-hop or do you just do you and not worry about it?
I think it’s kind of both. I don’t know. I think I am aware, but I don’t think I’m too overtly aware. I kind of was raised like most girls— your parents or your mom lead you in the right direction. You don’t want to be seen in the wrong light, [you want to] be with the right company, dress appropriately— so I think that that’s already there kind of and I’m aware of that. But I think also as a girl in hip-hop, you also have to think more about your presence and how you want to be perceived by others. You want to be taken seriously in this industry. It’s a male-dominated industry so you have to pay attention to that.
Who in hip-hop excites you?
I don’t know if this is the hip-hop community, but I really like Frank Ocean. I think that there’s like a wholeness in music where there are so many different movements happening. And I think that the music that he’s creating I’m really excited about. I love Big K.R.I.T. —he’s super talented. And I think that he’s gonna be a massive, massive megastar. Just like meeting him personally and hearing his music, I think that he’s really great.
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