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“How much of my life has happened inside of a car?”

“How much of my life has happened inside of a car?” Frank Ocean dropped that question on his zine, “Boys Don’t Cry”. If anybody else had asked it, I’d dismiss […]

“How much of my life has happened inside of a car?”

Frank Ocean dropped that question on his zine, “Boys Don’t Cry”. If anybody else had asked it, I’d dismiss it. But from Frank, an artist who often finds meaning in cars as refuge, as freedom, as vestiges from lives past, it was a perfectly valid question trying to negotiate one of his most recurrent motifs with its cultural perception as a “straight boy fantasy”, something that Frank, as a bisexual man, finds anathema.

Frank Ocean’s work is important to me. Hip hop is an environment that’s often hostile to queers like myself. Yes, there are rappers who are LGBTQ (and LGBTQ friendly) but Frank’s hangups about relationships, his desire for isolation and to live life in his own terms are things that I struggle with everyday. To me queerness is not in Pride parades and raising the LGBT flag. Queerness is in not playing by the rules, in not existing in the mazes and the labyrinths. To be free and to be yourself, discovering love in the world, regardless of how it’s packaged and giving it back.

I couldn’t help but stop and think of that as I was watching San Junipero, Black Mirror’s best episode from its latest season. In it, Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw play a lesbian couple (Yorkie and Kelly, respectively) in the 80s who find each other while vacationing in San Junipero, an idyllic California vacation spot. Their romance is relatively straightforward (Girl meets Girl, Girl loses Girl, Girl regains Girl) but it’s heartfelt and it works because it’s not afraid of leaning on the fact that these kids are queer and they’re fighting for happiness in a world where being queer has mostly meant missed chances and lives unlived.

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The Get Down is on a Frustrating Yet Rewarding Musical Mission:

Hip Hop is one of the weirdest cultural movements once you sit down to think about it. An eclectic mix of funk, spoken word, comic books, political rebellion and martial […]

Hip Hop is one of the weirdest cultural movements once you sit down to think about it. An eclectic mix of funk, spoken word, comic books, political rebellion and martial arts imagery that just downright embodies African American culture. It feels almost impossible and once you know how much of it was fueled by sheer happenstance and randomness (hip hop wouldn’t be what it is today without the ’77 blackout, let’s be honest) it really makes sense why it stands apart from other musical movements.

Hip Hop in its current form is not really like that, of course. As every art form, it has evolved into a different beast entirely, one that is quite hard to pinpoint these days. This isn’t a dig, of course, but simply an observation: current hip hop doesn’t feel as driven by a community so much as individual artists and their vision. You have Kanye trying to create gospel rap and Desiigner taking trap in a more gangsta, flow-heavy form. The Get Down definitely believes in the understanding of Hip Hop being exclusively a product of Harlem and the Bronx as a community that was being oppressed by real estate moguls and the City’s neglect. And it makes a very convincing case for that understanding and that vision in the first six hours and a half of its first season.

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