Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jay Smooth: A Beginner's Guide To "No Homo"

I found this great clip on postbourgie via illdoctrine. It really breaks down the origins and psychology behind the hip hop coined phrase "no homo", which is used by hetero men to qualify that their words shouldn't be taken as "being gay". ie, "man, that was smooth how you just slid the ball up there, no homo." This really defines homophobia for me, when straight folks are needing to re-assert their heterosexuality again and again, for fear (phobia) that they may be seen as gay (homo). Someone once defined homophobia to me in literal etymological translation: homo(same)phobia(fear). Fear that you are the same.

In Jamaica, there is definitely a similar dynamic, maybe there is a new phrase by now, but 2 years ago the qualifier was "a nuh lean talk". translation: I am not making lean talk/talk that leans. I am making straight talk. Its pretty amazing, and a little sad to sit in a group of men and hear this over and over, this self-policing. Really feels stressful, like a lot of energy has to go into this constant self monitoring. So basically, though of course LGBT folks have an inordinately rougher time from homophobia and heterosexist oppression, in my opinion hetero folks also suffer psychologically from homophobia. In every model of oppression, i think it is safe to say that both the oppressor and the oppressed lose some humanity in the process.



Anonymous said...

Hi richard,
i glad to see you gealing with the outsourcing of americas brand of homophobia, but alas the "no homo" boat has sail'd, not that the concept is gone but has merly shifted from the excusitary to the out right accusation. The term is "Pause" used to show the speaker that they have said something "questionable".

"Pause" = think about what you just said

A: I realy like lebrons form.

also; the introduction of "No Homo" to the mainstream public was made by the artist Camron, who is at the moment the closest to what could be call'd at the moment "homo-rapper", and in doing so gave the hiphop community a chance to deal with the distructive elements of this judgement. or thats how i remember it.

my charge to you; look for and support positive music in all its forms, call out the truth movado sings behind the gun shots, for its by the mouth of babes we shal be saved.

Anonymous said...

heyyy, just read over my post, it was my first so be gentile.
as for my previous charge, i want everybody to promote the actual lyrics and start debate with thoes in the hiphop/ dancehall comunity use the words that some of us seem to miss, disect each verse, like a certain blogger did with a bob marly song. ;)

Anonymous Kirkwood

richard said...

yes miss anonymous!

i thought i recognized that thoughtfully lyrical and poetic flow! whaagwaan??

thanks for your comments. are you saying that yardies say "pause" now? or that that is the new hip hop thing? Or both?

i didn't follow the whole Cam'ron vibes before, so your statement is interesting! of course the volatile issue of the possibility that the most vociferous folks with "no homo" lyrics may be gay folks trying to survive in a macho type masculinity environment comes up. I remember when dancehall artist Lexxus was taken to task for singing all these "no bow" songs (do not go down on women) when it came out that some women started outing him, asking why he had no problem with that the previous night. woy! this of course makes the logical progression to a curiosity... what is happening with all the artists (hip hop and dancehall) who do "no homo" songs?

i hear your charge loud and clear :) i had fun with the Bob Marley song, and perhaps i should write about how Lupe Fiasco is making thoughtful, fun, smart and conscious hip hop fashionable again. Which Movado tune are you feeling now? I might have missed it. right now as a dj, been exploring what i am calling "deep hip hop" (Flying Lotus is a good example)and haven't had my ear as close to the ground for the yard vibes. i am waiting for the olympic gold tunes dem tho!!

was that gentle enough? heh. :) thanks again for you words, as always. nuff love and blessings to you.

Anonymous said...

yea, uhh, im a dude but i do know who you thaught i was.

about the whole camron thing i dont realy know if he is or isnt queer(i apolagise for insinuating), but though his lyrics "no homo" was brought to the national table and like you said about lexx it started a debate, and now no homo is somewhere closer to snl skit rather than genuine hood venacular. yet some how "pause" still show'd up, in hiphop. i guess its bc being gay is still seen as funny, so thoes who wish to dominate and humiliate will use it as a way of playfully challenge anothers alpha status.

now that i think of it nohomo and pause are jokes, everytime i have heard them, even used in hiphop lyrics it was playfull.
does taking away the seriousness take away the stigma of queer people? did it work with the N-word? does this just joking attitude leave men and women feeling more humiliated? if so how do we fight humor?

A: i love you bro
B: Pause
A: dont bring that to me
B: you mad? (sarcastic)
A: well... (short speach on homophobia)
B: ZzZzzZzzz


thanks for the wrighting and reasoning.
Anonymous "AK" Kirkwood
LifeOfAK Blog coming soon

ps. i dont have any particular movado tracks to mention but even if i did tell you, wouldent that be cheating?

Peter Daniel St. Martin Wright said...

"No homo" isn't a popular phrase in Jamaica but it's sometimes used by those of us who listen to alot of Hip Hop.

Our cultural equivalent, rather than a qualifier, is the complete removal of any word or part of a word that could possibly connote something homosexual. We simply don't make any "loose talk".

I don't know if you've realized, Richard, but we no longer "come"... we "forward"... and we have no city called Montego Bay but Gyaltego Bay. There are countless other linguistic changes as a result of our homophobia.

It is rather silly. But I don't think it stems from insecurity as much as it comes from our deep latent fear and hatred of anything that could be perceived as homosexual by any stretch of the imagination. The other day at a studio, I was corrected when I heard a song and said "Yow...da ute deh hard!!" And I definitely couldn't say that he would "buss" soon.

I don't care too much for watching my language THAT carefully because I think we've gone way too overboard and it's no longer funny but sad.

Amongst certain friends that understand the phrase, whenever I inadvertently make a statement with homo connotations, I say "no homo"... because immediately, everyone is going to stop and someone is going to say "Wha kinda loose ting yu a promote?" It's best to make your intentions clear than face the ritual meaningless scrutiny every time there is a slip of the tongue (no homo? LOL)

The homophobia is really deep though. As much as I'm sure of my heterosexuality and have no problems with homosexuals, themselves, I still want nothing to do with them nor their lifestyle. It's so deep that as liberal as I consider myself to nbe, I still can't fully accept them. It's just Jamaica.

richard said...

yes peter! good to see you here. thank you for a most eloquent response. i just wanna quickly acknowledge you, cuz my schedule is hectic, and i haven't been able to get to folks. will respond more fully for sure! bless up up cuz


richard said...

ok peter, back again!

woy... i did know about how men tell other me to "forward" instead of "come", and even how dancehall selectors no longer say "inside Dennis Brown etc" when playing tunes. But this is the first i am hearing about Gyaltego Bay instead of Montego Bay. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so ridiculous and sad! Its kinda both i guess. So men can't go anywhere with a title that refers other men now? Is Mandeville Gyaldeville now too?

its intense. i appreciate your honesty and perspective for sure. I know that your analysis is probably considered to be bordering on radical in Jamaica (let's not even get into mine!). I have heard other Jamaican liberals say similar things. Though i am sure that if you and i heard a white liberal say "i have no problems with blacks themselves, I still want nothing to do with them nor their lifestyle." we would not be to thrilled, or just choose our battles. Not a judgement, i am more noting the difference between a liberal person in the US around these issues in comparision to a JA liberal. Just the fact that you are open minded enough to speak and write about these issues more than makes you a Jamaican liberal for sure. I wonder myself where my politics would be if i never left JA after high school.

hey AK, sorry about the long pause in response there too! and heh, you telling me about a movado song isn't cheating. :) music is inexhaustible, and i love when people turn me on to a vibes. I don't have ownership over the vast realm of music, i am not the authority. i do tend to dig for vibes that don't get radio play, so a lot of the above ground tunes can pass me sometimes. if somebody is doing something that is saying sumpn, i hope people will tell me, or i find it myself.

re: humor... like it says in the clip more or less, if one isn't in the group being made fun of, it removes the ability to be a true judge of "how funny" it really is on the level of respecting humanity. i do hope that it has raised debates for sure.

whoa! gotta run to a gig! more time !

Peter Daniel St. Martin Wright said...

Yep... Mandeville is Gyaldeville as well. It never ends.

My views are radical locally but I feel its a reasonable stance. People don't have to like, approve of or associate with anything or anybody they don't want to but a common respect is what's necessary. And many Jamaicans fail to see that.

I have no problem with a white person that wants nothing to do with me because of my race, nationality or lifestlyle. I wish they knew better. But as long as they're not trying to fight me out, I'm cool. It's all love.