Does Hip Hop Really Need Rappers Like DaBaby?

In a tumultuous week for the hip hop star, DaBaby has dominated pop culture headlines, and not for good reason. The Grammy-nominated musician who rose to stardom with smash hits like “Suge,” “Rockstar,” and a recent remix of Dua Lipa’s “Levitating,” has recently come under heavy criticism. The criticism was not for sounding the same on every song (as you might expect), but for a homophobic rant at his Rolling Loud Festival show in Miami this past Sunday. 

The rapper first asked his audience to put their phones in the air if they “didn’t show up today with HIV [or] AIDS” and if they were “fellas” who “ain’t sucking dick in the parking lot.” While equating HIV/AIDS to homosexuality is already a homophobic trope that is violently harmful to the LGBTQIA+ community, DaBaby wasn’t finished. 

He then referred to HIV/AIDS as “them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that’ll make you die in two to three weeks”—not only is this untrue, but it also perpetuates destructive and outdated myths about the disease and virus. Perhaps if this were the 1960’s then spewing such hateful ignorance would be more understandable. 

An Atlantic article describes quite succinctly, “One big reason HIV/AIDS remains a deadly crisis despite the existence of lifesaving drugs is stigma: Fear of shame and ostracization discourages people from accessing testing, preventive measures, and treatment. In other words, a factor causing needless suffering is people like DaBaby, one of the hottest names in hip-hop.”

Do Rappers Need to Be “Politically Correct?”

It was the legendary (Hall of Fame might I add) musician Kendrick Lamar who prophetically offered us his reflections on how to wield his newfound fame as a Black man; “I remember you was conflicted, Misusing your influence, Sometimes I did the same, Abusing my power, full of resentment…”

Picture of NY Rapper Polo G and his son

Lamar, like J Cole, Lil Baby, Polo G and numerous other rappers, appears quite intentional in the ways he employs his influence over culture. As a man, he recognizes that his actions have consequences and can harm people if abused or misused. Instead, these individuals wield their fame responsibly and to the betterment of others. 

While I do not believe every rapper should also have to be a social activist, I do believe simply because someone makes good music (some might even say that’s questionable with DaBaby), does not mean they shouldn’t be held accountable for their harmful actions within the culture. I also believe, as Tupac did, that if people want Black fans and to be praised by the culture, they should ultimately be creating a positive impact on the culture and for Black people. DaBaby is not doing that. 

To make things even worse, earlier in the Rolling Loud set, DaBaby brought out known woman-abuser Tory Lanez (I ain’t bouta argue with none of yall about whether or not he an abuser). In case you missed the news last summer, Lanez allegedly shot Megan the Stallion in the foot, and Megan now has a restraining order on Lanez. Megan had performed earlier in the event so it was highly inconsiderate (to say the least) to have brought Lanez on stage as well. 

And if all of that wasn’t bad enough, the once hip hop legend-turned homophobic sexually abusive mediocre actor TI has come to DaBaby’s defense, proposing that “If Lil Nas X can kick his shit in peace … so should DaBaby.” I’m not going to expend any brainpower refuting this point… but wtf does Lil Nas X have to do with anything! Some people will really just say anything. 

If an alleged sex trafficker (TI) and a man who shot a Black woman (Tory Lanez) are sprinting to your defense, chances are you are moving in a way that is astronomically problematic. But that’s not even the part I’m mad about. I’m really mad that you are making me agree with Chris Brown. Why in the hell is Chris Brown one of the most sensible Black men in Hip Hop speaking out about this right now? We really in for a crazy year. 

Although both shocking and immensely harmful, toxic masculinity and homophobia are nothing new to hip hop culture. As a matter of fact, there will probably be some Black men who see the headline of this article and be quick to lambast me as attempting to destroy the Black man (despite being one myself). There’s a lot of brothers out there who continue to perpetuate these poisonous and anti-Black ideologies (yes homophobia is also anti-Black). 

What we can take away from this scenario is that T.I. (can’t forget Lil Boosie) is the old-guard of homophobia and toxic masculinity within Hip Hop culture, while DaBaby and Tory Lanez represent the evolved and newer forms…the violent and problematic ideology persists. 

DaBaby is homophobic, problematic and likely abusive. He has already been dropped by BoohooMAN and disappeared from a UK festival lineup. He has been condemned by Quest Love, Madonna, Dua Lipa removed him from her chart-topping remix, and even Elton John spoke out against his remarks. Now whether or not all these white folks need to have critical public opinions about a Black man is a conversation for another day, but clearly there is massive blowback for DaBaby’s comments. 

It is our role as producers, consumers and participants of hip hop culture to call this violent behavior out and cancel him if necessary. However, because I am also a Black man, my hopes are that he will learn and grow from his mistakes, and mend the harm he is causing people, but at the moment that is not looking like the direction he is moving in. 

What are your thoughts? Do you think the blowback is justified? Are people being too harsh? Drop us a comment on our socials!

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