In recent years, Lord Jamar, one of the founding MCs of the golden age hip-hop group Brand Nubian, has essentially become the Donald Trump of hip-hop. He's been campaigning for years to make hip-hop great again, attacking gay rappers like Le1f and gay-sympathizing MCs like Macklemore, accusing them of trying to "sissify" black men.
In his most recent video, he's taken on a new target: Jaden Smith, who recently become the new face of Louis Vuitton, appearing in one of their ads wearing a skirt. When asked to respond by the hip-hop interview site VladTV to respond to the photos, Jamar replied that this is one more example of our patriarchal family values dissolving right before our eyes.
"We're gonna take the real men out of the house, and bring these men [referring to Jaden] into your house through the internet, TV, your cell phone," he said. "These are now gonna be your frame of reference for what it is to be a man."
This, he says, spells doom for future generations. According to Jamar's math, the $3 million Smith made posing for the ads "breaks down to 50 cents per poisoned mind."
"At some point, you best believe they're going to come with their strong men," he said. "And they're going to come in the communities with their guns. And it's gonna be the path of least resistance. You're not gonna have no weapons. You're gonna have a bunch of girly men running around trying to fight the police."
Jamar's response is a perfect example of the lingering homophobia that's selectively reared its ugly head throughout hip-hop history. It's present in the blacklisting of gay artists, and in the casual use of the word faggot as an all-purpose insult — a word Lord Jamar uses exasperatedly to describe today's rappers in the video. Several thought leaders in hip-hop, such as Def Jam Co-Founder Russell Simmons, have argued these impulses are fading from the genre. But clearly, the vestiges are still holding on.
As Jaden Smith has yet to respond to the Jamar's blast, Le1f's response from their 2014 bout can stand in as the voice of the new hip-hop culture: "Are you proud of being a hateful member of a majority?" Le1f wrote in 2014. "Rap started out as a creative response to oppression, and no matter my outfit, I know oppressions you will never understand."