Lord Jamar, frontman of 1990s underground rap group Brand Nubian, has been labelled by The New Yorker as “hip hop’s alpha conservative.”
Jamar is concerned with the “hijacking” of hip hop by white and gay artists and recently caused controversy when he posted a photo on Instagram showing a black male model on the runway dressed in a colourful skirt. Jamar tagged the picture “half a fag” and blamed Kanye West’s trailblazing style — particularly the Givenchy leather skirt he wore during an onstage performance — for influencing the feminization of black culture.
He has also spoken out against white artists like Macklemore, insisting they “are guests in the house of hip-hop. Keep it real with yourselves: you know this is a black man’s thing. We started this. This is our shit.”
But even black men in the genre aren’t safe from Jamar’s contempt if he considers their flamboyancies to be a threat to the “preservation” of hip hop. Jamar had this to say about gay rapper Leif’s recent performance on The Late Show with David Letterman:
“You can’t just arrogantly wear whatever the fuck you want to wear on some ‘self-expression’ bullshit in order to preserve a culture there are certain guidelines and boundaries that have to be there. [Hip-hop] started with the alpha males. And now it’s being given to the beta males to try to flex their shit.
“I have no problems with pushing boundaries. But everything has its limits. How far do you go with this pushing of boundaries before you’ve turned it into something else? That’s what I want to know. How much water can you add into the whiskey before you no longer get drunk?”
But Leif, who himself has taken issue with Macklemore in the past over “Same Love,” which he felt was a ripoff of his music, equally has no tolerance for Jamar’s oppression. He wrote a short, poignant and classy response on his Facebook page:
“Dear Lord Jamar, Choose your battles. If the whitening of rap is a concern to you, please leave my name out of it. If you think being gay is the same as being white, you are as ignorant as your enemies. I’m darker than you. I’m african. I’m a black man and I experience all the same racism you do, if not more, on top of homophobia, including from black men just like you. Are you proud of being a hateful member of a majority? Rap started out as a creative response to oppression, and no matter my outfit, I know oppressions you will never understand.”
Check out Leif’s performance on Letterman: