Son Raw is ending the year on a high note.
Anyone who’s been paying attention to Hip Hop since the 90s (no wait – come back! This post isn’t about that, I swear!) will remember The Source Magazine’s quixotic quest to out “The Gay Rapper.” Even if you manage to look past how weirdly paranoid the whole idea that some rapper – YOUR favourite rapper – was closeted, the concept revealed a pretty myopic worldview. Why would anyone want to join a community/culture that had it in for them, particularly when the East Coast had such a thriving Ballroom scene that espoused the same kind of competitive atmosphere rap thrived on, but in a much more welcoming context? There were always “gay rappers” – they just never called themselves that or had any interest in Hip Hop’s approval.
Getting people outside the Ballroom scene to listen however, has been a challenge – something that makes Gage’s manic Bad Bitch with Philly Ballroom Commentator Kevin JZ Prodigy even more impressive. Without watering down the intensity of Kevin’s chants, the track places them in a context that immediately translates to ears totally unfamiliar with Ballroom culture – the reaction from UK DJs has been just as enthusiastic as the Ballroom scene’s. It also throws down the gauntlet for a UK emceeing culture that wasn’t anymore queer-friendly than American rap was – if a Ballroom commentator is spitting over something as crazy as this Gage beat, why are most UK emcees spitting over Trap?
Most importantly however, it’s a song that’ll stop you in your tracks and force your face into a scrunch, cultural politics aside. It’s just really, really good music.