Thursday, June 5, 2008

Chicks dig tranny rappers: hetero noses out of joint

Posted By on Thu, Jun 5, 2008 at 7:45 PM

A panel discussion at this past Monday night's Industry Influence hip-hop networking event devolved into a shouting match with more than a whiff of gay-bashing about it when the topic of sissies, or gay male bounce MCs who dress in drag, hit the table.

The monthly event, hosted by Q93.3FM DJ Wild Wayne and rapper Sess 4-5, usually draws a couple of hundred New Orleans rappers, producers, video girls and other hip-hop denizens that range from newbies to players with serious juice. (The former Cash Money in-house producer Mannie Fresh, for example, was on the panel: when the squabbling started, he wisely seemed to decide he was too famous to have to talk smack, and stayed mum for the duration.) The two scheduled panel discussions each night can last hours, but usually don't end in yelling. The controversial issue of homosexuality in the black community, though, which has been a point of contention in the bounce scene since the beginning, heated up the mics - and not in the, you know, fly way.

Openly gay drag rappers like Katey Red, Big Freedia and Sissy Nobby have been putting out local club hits since the '90s, when bounce was the block party soundtrack citywide. In New Orleans, where drag, costuming and queerness are woven into multiple levels of society like few other places, they've mostly been an accepted part of the scene... except when they're really not. Sissy MCs play clubs and parties on bills with straight rappers to mixed crowds - Big Freedia, a towering presence, has one of the hottest hip-hop club nights in town with her weekly FEMA Fridays on the West Bank. But in a recent bounce documentary, one local promoter noted that on package tours, he couldn't book sissy rappers for gigs outside of New Orleans because they'd get beat up.

The Monday panel, with Mannie Fresh, Partners n Crime, Lucky, Kee-Lo and others, was meant to be a tribute to the fathers of bounce, but when an attendee asked the question, "Where is bounce music today?" things started to get heated. "It's gay music," said Kango Slim of Partners N Crime, When the questioner and moderator Wild Wayne started to qualify the answer, Kango clutched the mic and repeated "gay gay gay gay gay it's fag music," drowning out the rest of the panel. It became clear that DJs were upset that girls at their club nights were requesting bounce tracks from the sissies too regularly, and they were concerned that Freedia and Nobby's successes would make them, as bounce artists, look... well, gay.

The argument wore on, and the rappers hollered more about the perceived injustice of drag queens making music. At least it's just yelling, and not like what's going on in Mexico.

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