Tidal Wavves: Femininity Killed the Homophobe
“I pimp slap you bitch niggas with my limp wrist, bro,” Blanco promises in “Wavvy.” It’s this fleeting, dope verse with which Mykki unabashedly introduces himself to the world.
An assertive ‘I don’t give a fuck’ to the heterosexual hegemony of rap music? Most probably.
It’s a common narrative. The cultural cognoscenti stepping up to the pedantic pedestal to address the ills of mainstream rap music — the misogyny, the homophobia, the hypermasculinity. I’ve done it; it needs to be done. But, performance is fascinating, confusing and complex.
Rap is, in many ways, both dominant and subversive, both shocking and submitting — oftentimes both protesting and supporting dominant institutions. Even A$AP Rocky goes from describing childhood cockroaches and gunfire in one verse to Margiela and Maseratis in the next.
Mykki’s 8-bars aren’t unlike his hip-hop brethren. They ooze that combative, aggressive machismo with which we’ve all become familiar, all while disavowing the same machismo that makes Mykki a jarring introduction to such a rigid culture.
Mykki’s more than meets the eye. Actually, maybe he’s exactly what meets the eye. His love of long Indian locks, satin black bras, and leather hot pants. But, can a black male rapper wear a pair of cropped short-shorts without championing a cause?
Maybe one day, but challenging the masculine requisite in black culture is tricky business. Racism and prejudice (of erstwhile and today) can make black men feel like they need to be strong, rigid. And, femininity (particularly evinced in the black man) can be seen as a direct threat.
One thing is certain. In today’s world, femininity is disavowed in rap culture. In a time when two guys kissing is innocuous in pop culture, even, maybe, possibly in rap*, cross-dress-loving Mykki Blanco still represents a rejection to the (black) masculinity that drives much of today’s rap music.
It’s not Blanco’s rhymes and lyrics that don’t fit into today’s (mainstream) rap milieu, it’s his corporeal performance, his constant blurring of the line between who’s Mykki and who’s Michael David Quattlebaum, Jr. that do not.
The constant match between man and women, masculine and feminine — and the subsequent and inevitable draw.
And, there’s power in being able to move along that continuum. By moving from Michael to Mykki, Mykki to Michael, Blanco disproves the need for either masculine or feminine performance in rap.
But, as Mykki points out in his September 2012 interview with Bullett, addressing rap culture’s (and black culture’s) ambivalent relationship with femininity is crucial to addressing homophobia (and transphobia) in rap music.
“When femininity is seen as a source of power in black culture, homophobia will no longer exist,” Blanco told Bullett. But, I digress. Mykki Blanco makes dope music. I’m obsessed.
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