by G. Brown
Lil Nas X’s country/hip-hop hybrid record keeps breaking records. Charta Data says “Old Town Road” is now the longest-running Hot 100 #1 debut single of all time...” Not bad for a guy few even heard of six months ago.
Billboard confirms “Road” featuring country singer Billy Ray Cyrus (you know, Miley’s Dad) is going where no country/hip-hop crossover has ever gone before. The premiere music magazine says the single blazed Billboard history by clinging to the top spot for a marathon stretch. In Billboard’s more than 60 year history only a few artists have managed similar feats. Lil Nas X is now sharing the spotlight with artists like Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men who stayed in No. 1 spot for 16 weeks. Lil Nas X made a power move to take the title with a remix to gain new fans.
Breaking chart-topping records isn’t Nas X’s only claim to the spotlight these days. He seized this past LGBT Pride Month to come out to his fans. The rapper said he almost didn’t make the announcement but then realized, “I don’t want to just live my entire life, especially how I got to where I’m at, just not doing what I want to do…I’m also, I feel like, opening the doors for more people.” The announcement brought the rising rapper many accolades, but just as many admonitions including one from fellow rapper Young Thug.
Rollingout.com says the “No Limit” and “Ain’t About the Money” rapper “…opined that Nas has caused irreparable damage to his brand and perhaps imperiled his future money-making opportunities. ” Thug says, “These days—motherf—–s is just all judgement…It ain’t even about the music no more,” Soon as the song comes on everybody’s like, ‘this gay a– n—-’ ”.
Young Thug says it’s a decision that will cost Nas future dollars—but will it? How many Black Hollywood celebs are living their lives gay and proud and still making tons of money? You can’t watch a TV show these days without having at least one gay character written in the show. Disney, Marvel and all the titans leading at the box office are looking at movies that include LGBTQ characters.
One person commented on social media following Nas’ announcement that Black people aren’t accepting of gays and will never support him…really? Did anybody declare that “Empire” was unwatchable because the creator and at least one of the actors were homosexual? Did anybody run screaming from their TV because Viola Davis as Annalise Keating was playing a bi-sexual woman? Did anyone give skip seeing “Thor Ragnarok” or “Avengers: End Game” because Tessa Thompson was in it and she’s gay?
Certainly, some people had those reactions, but stop saying that the Black community is homophobic. There are those in every community who choose to oppose people with lifestyles contrary to their own. It’s becoming a trope to say that the Black community is homophobic implying that Blacks as a whole are not tolerating, understanding or that we don’t change. We learn to accept a changing world around us. It’s interesting nobody claims that the White community is homophobic when many of them make up the religious right who are vocally opposed to same-sex marriage.
Hip hop still presents an image of hard, unrelenting masculinity. But if the meteoric rise of Nas and his chart-topping song suggests anything it’s that even hip hop is more focused on the music and not who the artist is privately making music with.