And while we’re on the subject of homophobic ragga records played by a gay DJ and going down a treat in London’s gay clubs… I just found this fascinating story. It’s a great example of people appropriating the language of their abusers as a form of self-empowerment. Or perhaps, an odd example of people who are wilfully ignore the violent bigotry expressed in the music they like to dance to, because it’s music they like to dance to:
Biggy C does not seem terribly interested in Outrage!’s accusations that by playing Vybz Kartel, he is promoting “murder music”. “I’ve had people coming up to me when I’m DJing and say, ‘Do you know what that record is saying, blah blah blah?’ I just think, ‘You need to get out a bit more, mate.’ It ain’t bothering us.” But then, it doesn’t sound as if the crowds who turn up to hear him DJ are interested either. “If it’s a benefit or a charity event I’m DJing at, then I ease up on playing the homophobic ragga. But if I’m playing at a gay house party, I kill it with the homophobic records.” A slightly unfortunate choice of words, but Biggy C is quick to clarify: “They love it, believe me.”
… he thinks that hearing a homophobic ragga track in a gay club strips it of its power and dramatically recontextualises it. He draws parallels with the gay scene’s gradual reclamation of insults like “queer” and “faggot”.
“They are cursing us and trying to bring down gay people, but we switch it around. It’s like a white gay guy may have cut off his hair and become a skinhead at the time when it was skinheads beating gays up. So we turn it on its head. They’re popular tunes with the black gay crowd. They’re good beats. We don’t take what those records say seriously. We can stand up for
our shit. Nobody’s going to burn us up in fire. Nobody’s going to chop our heads off. Records that say ‘faggot’ in them or whatever … all the more! All the more!”
Life is indeed a fascinating and contradictory beast. But my question is, if I’m the straight owner of a couple of Vybz Kartel records, is that okay? From what I can tell, they’re about smoking pot, not bashing gays. Does that make any difference? Who do you ask about this stuff?