Being a black male who raps and is open about his sexuality is still a big, controversial deal in post-Frank Ocean 2012, if the headlines and blog comments surrounding New York rap breakout Le1f are any indication. But before we get into that whole ugly issue of rap's latent homophobia, let's deal with "Wut" on a purely musical level. First and foremost, it's a great track. The dude's got a tall, funky kinda steez, freaky/revealing clothes, and some quick cleverisms on the mic. The spare, bouncy production from S.F./L.A. production duo 5kinAndBones5 just booms (please, turn up your bass). That "Wut" is a hot track and video seems almost inarguable, even apart from the lines about cuddling a Ukranian "he" and feeling light in the loafers. You just wanna hit play again as soon as it ends.
So it's understandable that while Le1f is comfortable being called a gay rapper (not that he's the very first), he wants attention for his music, rather than his sexuality.
Yet because Le1f is openly gay -- and because in this video he plays at seducing a white man, and shows off some ass-shaking that, say, Lil Wayne wouldn't -- this is a rap song-as-Internet firestarter. "Wut" has already started a long-ass comment thread over at WorldStarHip-Hop, where it was posted with not exactly a total lack of prejudice, and it continues to illustrate for the rest of we the befuddled how prevalent and stubborn is hip-hop's homophobia. Even in a year where the biggest recent urban music breakout just admitted that his first love was a man. Get over it, people! Who cares about who other people choose to love?
The Fader has a short but revealing profile up on Le1f, which includes this revealing quote:
"I am gay, and I'm proud to be called a gay rapper, but it's not gay rap. That's not a genre. My goal is always to make songs that a gay dude or a straight dude can listen to and just think, This dude has swag. I get guys the way straight rappers get girls. I'm not preachy. The best thing a song can be called is good."
That this dude has swag seems hardly in doubt. Stream Dark York, his latest mixtape, below, and check out the rest of the Fader profile.