Frank Ocean is a diverse artist. Not quite R&B, not quite hip-hop, Ocean truly exists in an alternative bubble that encompasses a little bit of everything. His breakout 2011 mixtape sampled from Coldplay and the Eagles, but because of his ties with the Odd Future collective and his collaborations with Jay-Z and Kanye West, Frank often gets lumped in with hip-hop by default and convenience.
So after Ocean’s open letter in which he revealed that his first love experience was with another man, many have been questioning whether hip-hop is ready for an openly non-heterosexual male star.
Paula Renfroe, editor in chief of Juicy magazine, believes that the current hip-hop generation has escaped the homophobic stigma that has been placed on rappers and rap fans of yesteryear. To her, it is simply a reflection of America’s evolving social scope. “Hip-hop also has grown, society as a whole has grown and that’s the beauty of hip-hop, it reflects our culture and our society,” she told MTV News on Friday (July 6).
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Still, Vibe magazine editor in chief Jermaine Hall feels hip-hop still has some growing up to do. Ocean shares a commonality with the likes The Weeknd and Drake, artists who aren’t afraid to push musically boundaries or wear their emotions on their sleeves. Hall points directly to Drake when pondering whether or not hip-hop is ready to accept Frank Ocean for all that he is, because even when Drizzy, who is straight, expresses emotions, he is perceived as weak and receives a healthy amount of backlash online.
“The blogs will go at him — ‘Drake is gay, Aubrey’s gay’ — and no, he’s really not, he’s just in tune with his feelings,” Hall said. “So when I see stuff like that, I don’t know if hip-hop is 100 percent ready.”
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