Dwight “Heavy D” Myers, who passed away November 8 from a heart attack at the age of 44, was part of hip-hop’s original “New School,” a wave of artists that brought the genre its first real critical attention. Before the “New School,” most music fans casually dismissed rappers as single-driven electro artists and black music novelties. Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, NWA, Public Enemy and others forced the world to accept them on their terms instead of the rockist criteria used to judge Run-DMC, LL Cool J and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. With the “New School” emergence, hip-hop grew from a fad to a generational force to be reckoned with.
Tyler, The Creator’s Scum Fuck Flower Boy is a good album — and that’s coming from someone who has criticized Tyler quite a bit over the years (and still feel the same, thanks). But it’s frustrating to see critics try to comprehend the sexual complexity Tyler reveals on the album in light of his earlier lyrical outrages. Being “queer” is not shorthand for progressivism. Roy Cohn was gay. Peter Thiel is gay. Tyler’s penchant for “dolphins” and “dancing in pink panties” doesn’t necessarily excuse his past homophobic and misogynist language.
BTW, I’m not being censorious here. I like Syd’s music despite her occasional reduction of women to drug-addled strippers. I like Frank Ocean’s music despite his bragging about boning “bitches.” Many rappers and R&B singers have espoused similar themes; take your pick. I didn’t like Goblin (although I acknowledge its game-changing nature) because it was a meandering mess, not because Tyler presented himself as a bigoted misanthrope.