Nobody is more Hip Hop than Mister Cee.
He was Big Daddy Kane’s DJ during his prime in the late eighties. He was an early mentor to The Notorious B.I.G., even acting as an associate executive producer on his landmark debut album, Ready To Die. And he’s a longstanding radio DJ and personality at New York’s Hot 97, arguably the most famous Hip Hop radio station in the world.
It just doesn’t get much more Hip Hop than that. And unfortunately, it also doesn’t get more Hip Hop than getting arrested by the NYPD, so the intial news of Mister Cee’s arrest last week in New York City didn’t raise too many eyebrows. Getting into trouble with the law? Having your wrists cuffed behind your back? No problem. Very Hip Hop.
But getting arrested for receiving a blowjob from a 20 year-old man in a parked car? Apparently, that’s problematic. Go figure.
Now Mister Cee is probably gay (or at least bisexual), but currently he’s denying it. And that is his choice. What’s really interesting here is the way this whole situation completely destabilizes Hip Hop’s longstanding tradition of not just mere homophobia, but a total denial of the very existence of homosexuality within the art form.
Never mind the fact that thematic elements in the music (and some popular styles of dress) within the art form and culture are imbued with prison culture, which is really gay. Or that images like this one are extremely prevalent. Or that phrases like “Money over Bitches” and “Fuck Bitches, Get Money,” are clearly meant to exclude and marginalize the role and presence of women in general, which is extremely homoerotic. Pay no attention to any of that, because Hip Hop doesn’t just think being gay sucks; it wants you to believe that gayness somehow cannot coincide with Hip Hop culture. Like fire and ice. Oil and water. Apparently, Hip Hop and Homosexuality are diametrically opposed to one another.
This explains why an openly gay rapper has yet to receive any kind of substantial mainstream success or legitimacy within Hip Hop circles. But what happens when an established and widely respected figure in the culture is caught getting dome from a male prostitute? I’m not going to pretend like I know Mister Cee’s background, but if I had to guess, I’d say he’s probably always been attracted to men. And that probably wasn’t the first time he’d gotten head from another male, either. But he’s also been an undeniably important figure in Hip Hop music since 1988. And there’s probably always been and will continue to be individuals just like him amongst Hip Hop’s most elite and beloved practitioners.
Basically, it’s time for Hip Hop to grow up. There are gay doctors, gay athletes, gay politicians, gay parents, and – SURPRISE! SURPRISE! – There are also gay rappers and Hip Hop heads.
Not sure how to handle it? Take a cue from the greatest emcee of all time.
Dream Hampton is a journalist, cultural critic, and was the first female editor of The Source Magazine. This past week, she uploaded to Twitter this photo of Biggie shooting dice on a street corner in Bed Stuy. The guy standing behind him is Mann, whom Dream describes as one of Big’s absolute best friends. Mann was also openly gay. One time, Biggie told her that Mann had brought his new boyfriend around the old neighborhood. Dream asked Big what he thought of that.
Big’s response: “That’s my nigga. Whatever.”