Former Hot 97 deejay Mister Cee has had one hell of a month. After being caught receiving oral sex from a transvestite male prostitute, Mister Cee succumbed to public and media scrutiny and announced that he was relinquishing his post at the famed New York radio station. Cee, real name Calvin LeBrun, also admitted that he had been lying about the incident, and said that while he never had sexual intercourse with a man, he did sometimes procure the services of transvestite prostitutes for oral copulation.
What has been most surprising about the whole situation is the outpouring of support for Mister Cee after he made one of the hardest confessions to make to an audience that has not always been known to be very sympathetic or tolerant. Perhaps the most outspoken ally has been Cee’s old friend Big Daddy Kane who told Vibe.com, “I’ve always supported him and that’s not going to change because of today. What he said on-air was real. I support the brother and I’m going to always be his friend.”
Additionally, Cee’s Hot 97 cohorts have shown nothing but love — from Peter Rosenberg to Funkmaster Flex, and even program director Ebro Darden, who asked the DJ to come back to his post.
2013 has been a big year with regards to the maturation of hip hop. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have been tearing up the charts with their pro Gay-marriage hit “Same Love” and Jay Z and A$AP Rocky have both expressed their support for the LGBT community. Frank Ocean was embraced fully when he opened up about his bisexuality. Both Nicki Minaj and Azealia Banks have proudly brought the topic of their own bisexuality to the forefront without allowing themselves to be objectified by it, and there is even a confirmed openly gay rapper (F. Virtue), who recently came out via the single “Anita.” For a culture that has frowned upon homosexuality for most of its existence, hip hop has not only come a long way, but it has done so fast. Even 5 or 10 years ago, the idea of anything pro-gay would have been met with ridicule and scathing one-liners (with the exception of Eminem’s infamous collaboration with Elton John, which worked because who really wants it with Em?). Why the sudden change? Hip hop is mostly a league of followers. Just listen to the radio. First everyone was on autotune, then nobody touched it. Then ratchet, then a slowed up autotune took over (á la Future). Like Kanye said. “There’s leaders and there’s followers.” When the big sellers like Hov, Rocky and Macklemore step up, others feel safer stepping out on that ledge, or if not, they are much less outspoken in their opposition.
Another factor in the equation is hip hop’s continuing explosion into mainstream. The last few years (mostly inspired by the sounds of Mr. West and will.i.am) have seen an unprecedented amount of sonic osmosis. Genre lines have been blurred so much leading to collaborations that know no boundaries, geographic or otherwise. As a result genres that have more gay artists are becoming a part of hip hop and vice versa, and just like with anything, learning about other cultures allows people to have a heightened sense of sensitivity and understanding. Hip hop and its fans should be proud of this new revolution. It’s not perfect, but it’s come a long way in a short period of time. It’s also worth noting that qualitatively the genre is in the best shape it’s been in in years, so those worried about the disappearance of good music don’t have a very solid argument.
Mister Cee may have felt disgraced when he came clean, but in the long run he has helped bookmark a period in time when hip hop changed for the better.