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Hot Gay Singer Steve Grand’s CNN Interview Talks About Success Of Song All American Boy!

I am glad Steve Grand addressed the media’s claim of calling him a Country Music singer. Steve Grand makes it clear in his video he does not see himself as a Country artist. Grand’s video All American Boy has a Country twang to it, but I don’t think it is Country Music. I hope Steve gets a record deal and his music career gets to take off! All American Boy is an amazing song, because Steve was so bold and unapologetic writing a song and making a video about loving another man. Adam Lambert, Frank Ocean, Ricky Martin are out of the closet but their music ignores their homosexuality. All American Boy has connected with so many gay men and also heterosexuals because love is universal.

Openly Gay Country Music Singer Steve Grand Got A You Tube Hit Over 1 Million Views!!!

Steve Grand hot gay country music singer IV July 2013Steve grand hot gay country singer III July 2013
Steve Grand sexy gay country singer II July 2013

Steve Grand sexy country music singer July 2013

Twenty three year old Steve Grand You Tube video All American Boy is a huge viral success with over 1 million views!

Grand’s first music video cost $7000 dollars he maxed out his credit card to make it. This video is wonderful, I love it!

It is so nice to see a gay artist singing about just being in love although this song is bitter sweet the love is unrequited.

I think Steve Grand is going to have a successful music career he’s a good singer, handsome, and he seems passionate about his music.

Steve was also a model for the Australia gay Magazine DNA.

The Country Music genre is a bit conservative though, and also homophobic. It will be interesting to see where Steve Grand goes

from here, I hope he does get a record deal. Steve is handsome, I am sure gay men and also heterosexual women are going to

support him. Well done Steve!

MTV Explains Why Christina Aguilera’s Lotus Wasn’t A Comeback At All She’s A Niche Artist.

By James Montgomery (@positivnegativ)

 

Christina Aguilera’s Lotus album was supposed to signify her return to prominence, a high-powered collection of songs penned by the biggest hitmakers in the business (Max Martin, Shellback, Alex Da Kid), preceded by a supercharged first single and paced by duets with not one, but two of her fellow judges on “The Voice” (she already ticked Adam Levine off the list last year with “Moves Like Jagger”).

Of course, when the folks at SoundScan released sales figures Wednesday morning (November 21), we learned that things didn’t quite pan out the way Aguilera had intended: Lotus sold slightly less than 73,000 copies, a number not quite disastrous but not exactly inspiring either. It debuted at #7 on the top 200, behind new albums like the “Breaking Dawn” soundtrack, the Weeknd’s Trilogy (the overwhelming majority of which was available for free online last year) and Soundgarden’s King Animal. And, somewhat tellingly, it came nowhere close to matching the sales of Taylor Swift’s Red — currently in its fourth week of release — or One Direction’s Take Me Home, which outsoldLotus by nearly 500,000 copies.

 

Christina Aguilera Will Bring ‘Lotus’ Cover To Life For AMA Performance

 

So while it’s not entirely accurate to call Aguilera’s latest a bomb, one can’t escape the fact that it wasn’t a triumphant comeback album either. Then again, maybe it was never supposed to be in the first place.

Because, while Aguilera certainly commands a massive — and maniacal — online fanbase (just write anything less-than-complimentary about her to see proof of this), perhaps it was unfair of us to heap such lofty expectations on Lotus, especially given Aguilera’s recent history. We all know how her last album, Bionic, fared (you can debate whether it was“ahead of its time” all you want), but album sales being what they are nowadays, that only tells half the story. It’s more telling to look at how she’s fared on the singles charts — the true test of any pop star — because, really, we probably should have seen all this coming and tempered our expectations accordingly.

Aguilera has had only three solo #1′s on the Billboard Hot 100, and two of them came during the Clinton administration. Her fourth was “Lady Marmalade,” a song also featuring Pink, Mya and Lil’ Kim, and her fifth was “Moves Like Jagger,” a Maroon 5 song on which she received a featured credit. Since 2002, she’s only had three singles land in the top 10 (2002′s “Beautiful,” 2006′s “Ain’t No Other Man” and 2008′s “Keeps Gettin’ Better”), and her best showing in recent years was “Not Myself Tonight,” which made it to #23. Lotus‘ first single, “Your Body,” peaked at #34, and eight weeks after it was released, it’s currently at #84. None of this is meant to pile on, mind you, it’s simply repeating the facts.

So why has Aguilera failed to replicate the dominance of fellow pop stars like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Rihanna or Beyoncé? There are plenty of theories — the prevailing thoughts (whether real or imagined) that she’s not as likable as Perry or Bey, does not work overtime to channel the same outsider spirit as Gaga (and therefore isn’t as relatable) or simply hasn’t been as smart with her choices as someone like Rih Rih — though I tend to believe that each of them are half-baked at best. Perhaps the truth of the matter lies in her lack of singles success, because it suggests that Aguilera is no longer a pop star; she’s a niche artist.

 

Christina Aguilera Celebrates Everyone At The 2012 AMAs

 

And that’s not a slight. In her best moments (and I wish there were more of them on Lotus), she can out-sing just about anybody, and as the recent crop of pop stars has proved time and time again, well, singing isn’t their primary concern. She still releases interesting stuff — I’m in the camp of folks who loved “Your Body” and think there are plenty of equally worthy follow-ups on the new album, like “Make the World Move” or “Sing for Me” — and, shoot, her backstory is as compelling as they come. She has a loyal fanbase, one that has thinned in recent years, but remains nonetheless. She can still work with anyone she pleases and make the kinds of albums she wants. As far as niche artists go, Aguilera’s got it pretty good. But I really think that it’s time for her to stop trying to compete with her contemporaries and embrace the uniqueness of her situation.

And that goes for us in the media too. Was it unfair to expect big things — the kinds of things she was capable of 10 years ago — from Lotus? Probably. Was it also inevitable? Most definitely. But why did Aguilera need a comeback anyway? From where I’m sitting, she’s fine exactly where she is.

Christina Aguilera Is Back Official New Feminist Video Your Body!!!

After Christina Aguilera’s  last album Bionic bombed two years ago some people thought she was finished. I thought Bionic was a solid album I was stunned that if quickly fell off the Billboard music charts.  However, the NBC talent show The Voice has helped keep Aguilera in the spotlight. Now, Aguilera’s new album Lotus will be released in November. The first single from Lotus, Your Body is doing well and climbing the Billboard charts.

The beginning of the video is funny there is a public service announcement that no men were harmed.

According to some critics, since Christina is a mother and over the age of thirty she needs to tone down her sexuality. However, I think this form of sexism is nonsense, Christina is a grown woman and she has a right to sing about sex.

Your Body is a feminist song, because Christina is taking control and liberating herself by having sex on her own terms.

In the Your Body music video, Christina is reclaiming her sexuality and singing about a one night stand and enjoying sex. Since men can enjoy sex and sing about one night stands why can’t a woman? I don’t see the big deal, women have a right to enjoy sex just like men. Isn’t it a powerful statement for a young female entertainer to speak frankly about her sexuality? I think this video is powerful because Christina is not being shy she loves sex.

Billboard Magazine Interview: Pop Star Christina Aguilera Talks About Her Divorce, New Album & Departing From NBC`s The Voice.

Christina Aguilera: Billboard Cover Story

by Andrew Hampp  |   September 21, 2012 2:35 EDT
<p>Christina Aguilera</p>

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Christina Aguilera hasn’t felt this way in a decade. The singer is reflecting on the eventful two years leading up to the release of her fifth studio album, “Lotus,” from her home in Los Angeles — a period that heralded the commercial disappointment of her album “Bionic”; a divorce from husband Jordan Bratman; the release of her first movie, “Burlesque,” and its accompanying soundtrack; her highly successful stint as a coach on NBC’s “The Voice” and accompanying appearance on Maroon 5′s mega-hit “Moves Like Jagger.”

The last time she felt so inspired, the result was 2002′s Stripped-a creative breakthrough that helped distance Aguilera from her teen-pop peers and produced memorable hits like “Beautiful,” “Dirrty” and “Fighter.”

Enrique Badulescu Photography
Christina Aguilera + Billboard
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Due Nov. 13 on RCA, “Lotus” refers to the “rebirth” Aguilera underwent both personally and professionally, opting not to work with longtime songwriting partners like Linda Perry in favor of such newer collaborators as Alex Da Kid, Sia, Candice Pillay and even pop maestro Max Martin, on first single “Your Body,” which hit radio and iTunes last week and bows at No. 33 on Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40 chart this week.

Like on Stripped, Aguilera dips into many genres-from dance-pop on “Your Body” and “Make the World Move” (a duet with fellow “Voice” coach Cee Lo Green), piano-driven power ballads (“Sing for Me,” Sia collaboration “Blank Page”) and rock-tinged empowerment anthems (“Army of Me,” “Cease Fire”). The album even opens with a quick sample of M83′s “Midnight City” on the title track, an experimental table-setter where Aguilera resolves to “leave the past behind/Say goodbye to the scared child inside.”

Alex Da Kid, who first teamed with Aguilera for 2010′s “Castle Walls” on T.I.’s No Mercy, worked with Aguilera on several Lotus cuts with songwriter Pillay, many of which were recorded at her home studio. “I’ve worked with big and smaller people, and the more established people can get stuck in their ways and say they’re not open to critique,” Alex Da Kid says. “She definitely had a strong opinion, but she’ll go with the best idea in the room. That’s really rare for someone that’s had so much success.”

With Aguilera more or less based on the West Coast for the entire period leading up to Lotus’ release to finish taping the current season of “The Voice,” that means an aggressive Los Angeles-based promotional schedule during the next few months-with expected stops on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” as well as prominent use of “The Voice” to premiere the video for “Your Body” and a performance during album release week.

“Nobody knows better than Christina that success doesn’t come from simply having the voice, but from believing and trusting in that voice,” “Voice” producer Mark Burnett says. “That knowledge and experience makes her an incredibly nurturing coach, and one who not only challenges her artists, but encourages and inspires them to challenge themselves.”


“I have no time to even watch my own show.
So there’s your answer.”

- On whether she’ll watch Britney Spears on “The X Factor”


“The Voice” is winning the music-competition show race and beating “The X Factor” in the ratings. But as the show shifts into full-year production, the singer confirmed that she would be taking a break for season four, set to air next spring, with Shakira filling in her chair and Usher taking that of Cee Lo Green. She’s anxious to go back out on the road for the first time since 2007′s Back to Basics tour, having canceled 2010′s Bionic tour due in part to poor ticket sales. “It’s been a joy to be a part of other people’s journey, to be able to inspire and be a part of new singers coming up in this business,” she says. “But I was starting to get really worried and concerned that I wouldn’t have the time to go and be an artist again.

“Mark made it very clear that these chairs are always our chairs,” she continues. “He said, ‘I understand the only reason the show’s going to work is if it doesn’t get stale.’ And he totally understood that I needed something to fulfill my creative soul, and said, ‘This chair will always be yours to come back to whenever you do what makes you the best.’”

However long Lotus keeps her away from “The Voice,” it likely won’t be permanent. “I’ll probably be back. I just need to do my thing for a minute, then I can come back and be that much better of a coach. I just need a second to get back to me.”

Billboard spoke with Aguilera — who’s keynoting the Billboard/Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music Conference, to be held Oct. 24-25 — on the eve of a live Twitter Q&A where she officially announced the details around “Lotus.”

“Lotus” is an evocative title for your new album, given the events in your career and personal life during the past two years. What does that name signify to you?

This album represents a celebration of the new me, and to me the lotus has always represented this unbreakable flower that withstands any harsh weather conditions in its surroundings, that withstands time and remains beautiful and strong throughout the years. Once I could start writing my own songs, beginning with Stripped, I tried to infuse as much as I could to promote strength and inspire people with that message. And now I’m at a place at 31, where the last time I felt this way was when I was 21 with Stripped and I had a lot to say and a lot to express.

 

Some of the songs on Lotus are thematically similar to “Stripped,” too. Was that intentional?

Absolutely. There’s a song called “Army of Me,” which is sort of a “Fighter 2.0.” There is a new generation of fans from a younger demographic that might not have been with me all the way but that watch me on the show now. I feel like every generation should be able to enjoy and have their piece of “Fighter” within. This time, the way it musically came together it just felt right for this time and this generation. There’s always going to be a fighter in me getting through some obstacle and some hurdle.

 

Enrique Badulescu Photography
Christina Aguilera + Billboard

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“Lotus” is also a return to putting your vocals front and center in a way that you didn’t always do on Bionic in 2010. What did you learn from that experience?

With Bionic I fully went in there with [the idea], “I’m going to experiment and not be commercial or pop.” I wanted to play with different sounds and textures of my voice while bringing an electronica feel to it because that’s what I was listening to a lot at the time. And it was a blast.

 

Were you disappointed with how it was received?

I can proudly say it was ahead of its time, to be honest. It wasn’t so commercialized. You had to really be a music lover, be a true fan of music and the love of being open to really appreciate that record. It’s just a special piece in my body of work that will forever live on. The older the record gets the more people will come to appreciate it actually and check it out.

 

How has your experience with “The Voice” influenced you as a performer?

Seeing all the singers, you really come face to face with a lot of people-my teammates especially this season that you’ll get to know-that are predominantly younger. That’s inspiring, because they come up to you and they’re such big fans and they share with you what song touched them the most and how they had to learn every single ad lib and dissect it. As a vocalist it brought me back to, “Yeah, that’s what I used to do to my Whitney Houston record and my Mariah Carey record and my Etta James record.” It brings you back to a place where it becomes your personal responsibility to infuse the next generation with more information about learning every intricate note. That’s why a song called “Sing for Me” is special song. It’s one of those singer’s songs where if you’re not a vocalist you can’t mess with that song.

 

“Your Body” marks your first time working with Max Martin, which is surprising to a lot of people given the teen-pop era where you got your start.

[laughs] Max is legendary in the business. He’s known about me but we haven’t crossed paths. I think when I came in you heard his name with Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, Britney Spears — those records were the kind I wanted to stray apart from. If you look at what I did in the past [after my debut], I always try to do things that will challenge me and challenge the listener, too. Could this have worked 10 years ago? I’m not sure. It’s taken us a decade in the same business and watching each other from a distance, so for us to now come together and respect each other’s work ethic and how we like to be heard and making a marriage out of it, I think “Your Body” is the best culmination of that.

 

You’ve expressed interest in taking a break from “The Voice” in the near future. When might that open your schedule for a tour?

We’re still trying to figure that out. My fans do deserve to see me back out on the road. It’ll be exciting for me. The road is a lot of work. I want to make sure the timing is right and that I’m fully ready to go, otherwise I would have to pull tickets if I’m not feeling it. I want to press the fact that I want to be feeling it before I go out.

 

Going back to the current season of “The Voice,” what’s been exciting for you so far?

I’m actually very excited about this season in particular. It’s absolutely the most young and full-of-hungry-energy group we’ve had yet-this little next generation of future pop stars. Last year I had a different team as far as different genres, but this year it so happened to come together that they were all pop.

 

One of your contestants from last season, Chris Mann, will be the first season-two alum to release an album this year. Will you be involved with that project?

Absolutely. He’s working with [Front Line Management Group consultant] Ron Fair, the man who signed me and is still a very, very dear friend of mine. I know he’s in totally safe hands and in great hands musically. Ron Fair really gets it and gets him. One of the songs was sent to me for my participation and I said, hands-down, “yes.” It’s a beautiful song, the way he’s expressing himself on the album-his tone, his richness, his soul. He’s not overdoing it, just coming through strong, clear and rich. I’m very happy for him.

 

Beyond the technical aspects of executing a melisma, what are some career pointers you’ve been able to hand down to your own artists on “The Voice”?

A lot of these kids are coming from their own kinds of dance and arts schools, which is just like what the Mouseketeers was for obviously me and Britney and Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling-need I say more? We all come from that training camp mentality, but then it was a matter of us to be able to absorb everything, take it all in and now throw it all away. That’s what I’m trying to teach those kids. Everything can’t be so structured, so learned or taught. You guys have an individual self in all of you.

 

Speaking of Britney, will you be watching “The X Factor”?

[Laughs] I have no time to even watch my own show. So there’s your answer.

Surprising News: White Gay Publication The Advocate Devotes An Entire Issue To Frank Ocean & Black Gay Queer Artists.

The Meaning of Frank Ocean

When the up-and-coming musician came out, he drew praise from celebrities and his hip-hop collaborators, and revived the question of whether gays have a place in the industry.

BY TERRANCE DEAN

SEPTEMBER 06 2012 4:00 AM ET

It was a sweltering Fourth of July. People across the country were in parks, in backyards, and lined up along waterfronts anxiously awaiting the fireworks displays. The smell of barbecue, hot dogs, and hamburgers being grilled wafted through the air. It was a celebration of our great nation. And all the while, Twitter and Facebook were buzzing about an entertainer, a relatively unknown young man from California who posted a letter on his Tumblr page about having been in love with another man. The Internet was suddenly in a frenzy about this guy.

“Who is Frank Ocean?” a million tweets asked. Google searches began.

In 2010, Frank Ocean, born Christopher Breaux in New Orleans, became a member of the alternative hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. His solo debut mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra, was released the following year to critical acclaim. He released two singles, “Novacane,” and “Swim Good,” and both achieved chart success.

Ocean’s first full-length studio album, Channel Orange, was set to be released July 17, and a letter in which he declared his first love, for another man, was initially meant to be a part of the album’s liner notes. But following an early listening party, BBC Radio 1Xtra personality Max pointed out that the lyrics referred to “he” and “him” instead of “she” and “her,” which she took to be an indication that Ocean is gay or bisexual. Ocean took matters into his own hands, and on Independence Day he posted that letter on his Tumblr for the entire world to see.

My hope is that the babies born these days will inherit less of the bullshit than we did. anyhow, what I’m about to post is for anyone who cares to read. It was intended to fill the thank you’s section in my album credits, but with all the rumors going around…I figured it’d be good to clarify…

His letter went viral and traveled worldwide in a matter of moments. Suddenly, everyone knew his name.

4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence…until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless…. It was my first love, it changed my life.

Instantly, it seemed those words changed the entertainment industry. The letter caused its own firework

“It was sheer joy because he was the first national well-known artist to come out and announce his sexuality,” says Lloyd Thurston “Gyant” Dinwiddie, referring to Ocean as the first black artist to come out to a hip-hop audience. Gyant, the gay media personality and blogger at Gyant Unplugged,was one of the first to share the story online. “Frank Ocean is cemented in music history forever. Anyone who has walked in the LGBT shoes knows that story. His message related to people, and for him it was a weight lifted off his shoulder.”

July 4, 2012, marked a declaration of freedom for 24-year-old R&B soul singer Ocean. It was his coming-out party, and we’d all been invited to the virtual parade. His image, that of a serious-looking, handsome young man with a strong jaw line, a short beard, and a short fade haircut, was circulating along with his letter. Those who hadn’t previously heard of Ocean quickly learned that his announcement was significant, and especially significant to watchers of hip-hop. But it wasn’t a shock to everyone.

“I was like, What’s the big deal? It’s not like we all don’t know homosexuality exists and has its place in hip-hop,” says Reggie Osse, entertainment attorney, author, former TV executive, and host of The Combat Jack Show. Osse has represented artists including Damon Dash, Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Puffy, and DMX. He was instrumental in helping Jay-Z secure his first recording deal.

“I was really happy that Frank Ocean took his life and career into his own hands and made his proclamation,” says Osse. “It’s the first announcement of someone making a statement willingly. But let’s not act like this doesn’t exist.”

Frank ocean’s letter spoke of an unrequited love. More than simply coming out, Ocean was inviting the world into his emotional state at a vulnerable moment. In beautiful prose Ocean shared the raw intensity of wanting to fully experience love with the object of his affection and being met with an unwilling heart.

I sat there and told my friend how I felt. I wept as the words left my mouth. I grieved for them, knowing I could never take them back for myself. He patted my back. He said kind things. He did his best, but he wouldn’t admit the same. He had to go back inside soon. It was late and his girlfriend was waiting for him upstairs. He wouldn’t tell me the truth about his feelings for me for another 3 years. I felt like I’d only imagined reciprocity for years.

Tyler the Creator (left) and Ocean dance onstage during a performance at the 2012 Coachella music festival in April.
Before long music celebrities including Russell Simmons, Solange Knowles, 50 Cent, Jay-Z, and Beyoncé began tweeting and posting messages of support for Ocean. Even Odd Future member Tyler the Creator, who’s well-known for his use of the word “faggot,” tweeted how proud he was of his brother and friend. It seemed as if the hip-hop industry, which has notoriously been a closed boys’ club that shuns and ostracizes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, had experienced a change of heart. Hadn’t Jay-Z, a towering figure in hip-hop, just recently announced his support of marriage equality, following a message of support by President Obama? Jay-Z had seemingly just given Ocean a pass and ushered him into the boys’ club. And not from afar: Ocean had written and performed on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s hip-hop album Watch the Throne.

“I’m surprised that a lot of young gay people flocked to him, like he was doing something big,” says gay rapper Deadlee. “My first reaction was like he didn’t do anything. It didn’t seem to me like it was that big of a deal. But then I did research and discovered he was a part of Odd Future, and Tyler the Creator, who is always saying ‘faggot this’ and ‘faggot that.’ I was like, Whoa! This dude [Ocean] never checked him. Maybe they knew the whole time, and they were taking the word back and not tripping on it.”

The words “gay” and “faggot” have been a mainstay in hip-hop since its inception. In Grandmaster Flash’s 1982 song “The Message,” a portrayal of inner-city life, we are introduced to a down-low man hiding his secret:

Now you’re unemployed, all non-void Walking ’round like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd / Turned stickup kid, look what you’ve done did  / Got sent upstate for an eight-year bid / Now your manhood is took and you’re a may tag / Spend the next two years as a undercover fag

The hyperbolic masculinity of rappers, lyrically slaying homosexuals and degrading LGBTs, continued as the culture of hip-hop evolved from party anthems to aggressive gangster thug styles by performers including 50 Cent, DMX, Busta Rhymes, and Eminem. As men boasted about their cars, bling, and hard lifestyle, women and LGBTs bore the brunt of hip-hop’s lashings.

Reggie Osse, describing homophobia in hip-hop, says, “I had a conversation with rapper Lil B last year. We were talking about the changing values thematically and what these new rappers are doing. However, the old-guard rappers are like Republicans and want things to stay the same. Whereas hip-hop is changing, and many who are born in this culture are taking it to another place. There are some old-school cats who want to keep rap conservative. Some of my friends who are in hip-hop are very adamant that there is no place for gays. They begin quoting the Bible, and they are coming from an antiquated way of thinking.”


Left: Gay hip-hop artist Deadlee
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has called on record labels and hip-hop artists to end the name-calling and anti-LGBT behavior, and protests have been lodged over lyrics by Eminem and Jamaican dancehall/hip-hop artists Beenie Man, T.O.K., and Buju Banton, among others. From the birth of the musical genre, gay acceptance and hip-hop seemed incongruous. But Eminem performed with Elton John and later announced support of marriage equality, and Beenie Man, in the face of canceled shows, recently made a public apology for his history of antigay lyrics and public remarks. But Frank Ocean’s coming-out is a marker of a different kind, and it revived the question of whether the treatment of LGBT people is truly better than it was just a decade ago. Or are the changes for the better just cosmetic, on the surface?

“I think there is more of an acknowledgment that LGBT people are part of hip-hop culture,” says Tim’m West, a scholar, youth advocate, and gay-identified rapper who founded the groundbreaking rap collective Deep Dickollective. “Hip-hop is one of the last territories and spaces where gays cannot be part of the culture, instead of being the stylists, choreographers, and hairdressers. We can be behind the scenes, but not in front of the mike. The climate has changed around homosexuality, and it’s one of the civil rights issues of today. Hip-hop previously didn’t think we were in the room. We were not visible, out, and present. Now we are.”

Many LGBT figures view hip-hop’s historically homophobic attitude as tied to the black church’s deep-rooted issues with sex and sexuality. Condemnation of gays by an institution central to many black communities has the effect of deeply entrenching antigay hostility.
“Some people are not inherently homophobic,” says West. “It’s cultural, and a lot of homophobia is not from a deep-seated hatred of gay people but more by what is socially acceptable and what they see others doing.”

“I believe in…one’s right to be free,” says legendary rapper MC Lyte. “When we as a community, be it African American, the entertainment industry, or just the block, allow someone’s sexual, political, or religious preference to cloud our ability to see their true spirit, we lose. We lose the opportunity to fully embrace another one of God’s children. Truthfully, no matter how much an individual would love to point out the differences between themselves and another, we are all one.”

Ocean may have received support by some influential hip-hop figures. But the list of artists who were not willing to discuss him for this article is revealing. B.o.B., Lupe Fiasco, Trey Songz, Jaheim, and Wiz Khalifa declined to discuss the subject. The representatives for Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, and Nicki Minaj said their clients were busy and unavailable for comment.

Jay-Z, one of the many artists to voice support for Ocean, performs onstage.

“I’m an advocate for those in my family and those who I am close to, and I am an advocate for the homosexual community,” says rapper Murs, a member of the hip-hop groups Living Legends, Felt, and the 3 Melancholy Gypsies. He is also part of a punk fusion band, the Invincibles, out of Jacksonville, Fla., and is prepping for the release of his new album, This Generation, with fellow rapper Fashawn.

Murs recently released a shocking music video for his single “Animal Style.” Both the single and video feature a young man as he struggles with his sexual orientation, and portray the conflict he feels as he begins to date another man. Murs plays his boyfriend. In the video, the two men share a kiss. He explains that he spoke with his wife prior to making the video, and she fully supported him and the concept.

Murs faced significant opposition in making the song. “I wanted to do this song for five years, and for five years producers did not want to touch the song,” he says. “They didn’t want to be associated with the subject matter. However, those same producers are now calling me and supporting me and saying they are proud of me.”

Murs says he did the video and song to let his gay friends, associates, and fellow rappers know that he was aware of their being closeted and that he still cared for them. “I wanted to give them their moment and let them know that the door is open and I am going to take a stance for them,” Murs says. “And I think with artists like Jay-Z, Frank Ocean, and myself, homophobia in hip-hop will disappear.

“Teenagers are killing themselves,” he continues. “We have to stop this because people are losing their lives and getting beat to death. It makes me extremely sad. I can’t watch children die.”

While gay men and lesbians in hip-hop have often been pressured to stay closeted so as not to invite public, family, and personal shame, for many artists being openly gay was considered career suicide. Many performers are still strongly encouraged by agents, managers, and label executives to not be out—or even identify as one of the letters in the LGBT acronym.

“No one will support you if they know you’re gay,” Tim’m West says. “The notion in the black community [is that] coming out is a social death, and you might as well die. For white artists, such as George Michael, Melissa Etheridge, k.d. lang, and Elton John, their record sales did not plummet, nor did their careers suffer. It’s only within the black community.”

Ocean has largely refused to do interviews on this subject, and even in his interview in the British newspaper The Guardian, he doesn’t address the issue of labels.

“A lot of people were giving Frank Ocean props and saying that he was letting everyone come into his world, as opposed to coming out,” Deadlee says. “In his letter he never used the word ‘gay,’ and this guy is getting more props for not even using the word or even identifying in his letter. I’m gay and I’m not afraid to use the word. I hope that Frank Ocean comes to the point of not being afraid to use the ‘gay’ word.”

Though he doesn’t give his sexual orientation a label in the letter, Ocean does describe relationships with women. “Frank Ocean never said he was gay or bisexual, he just said he was in love with a man,” says Ebony Utley, an assistant professor in communication studies at California State University, Long Beach. “It was others who needed to identify and label him instead of him, and allowing him to do it for himself. Let’s let the man define himself… Besides, he was wise not to say anything beyond his letter, and that’s what he needed to sell his record.”

The kiss in Murs’s “Animal Style” video.

Though the declarations of support for Ocean by 50 Cent and Jay-Z were a milestone in hip-hop, Utley notes, “Frank Ocean is an R&B singer. Let’s be clear, hip-hop hasn’t had its first openly gay artist. No rapper has come out. Honestly, we don’t know what the support will be for an openly gay rapper because one has not come out.”

The distinction is quite significant for music industry watchers, including Utley, who feels R&B is a more open environment for LGBT musicians. R&B artists Rahsaan Patterson, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Donnie had already publicly acknowledged being LGBT, and each was with a major record label when they did so. Donnie was signed to Giant Step Records and Motown Records when he publicly disclosed that he was gay, in 2007, and he was the first male to do so. The velvet-voiced R&B singer-songwriter has worked with India.Arie and recorded and released two albums, The Colored Section and The Daily News.

“There was nothing said about my sexuality with Giant Step,” Donnie says. “When they signed me they already knew. They signed me because of my art and felt it could sell.” From Giant Step, Donnie was signed over to Motown Records, and the discussion of his sexuality wasn’t brought up there either. “I figured Motown already knew about my sexuality because when The Colored Section was released I wasn’t on television or in videos acting like I was in love with a woman or singing to women. It was nothing for me to say in an interview I was gay. It was just like I was saying I was black. Besides, if you got gaydar, you can see I was gay. So why hide?”

Donnie grew up in a very strict religious family, which practiced the Hebrew Pentecostal faith. He attended the same church as singer Marvin Gaye. Donnie says he struggled with his sexuality as a young boy because the pastor of his church would single him out and speak to him in code via the sermons. “My mother made me go into his office and tell him that if whoremongers can play the instruments, then sissies can sing.”

Rapper MC Lyte (left) performs onstage during VH1 Divas Salute the Troops in December 2010.

Donnie’s music is much more about social messaging, as he addresses ideas that have perplexed the black population and society as a whole. “The music I do is political. I will mention being gay and talk about homophobia, but my songs are not love songs,” Donnie says. “I didn’t want to play the pronoun game and say ‘she’ when I meant ‘he.’ When you’re a songwriter and you’re writing a song, you want people to be involved. I am going to say ‘you,’ ‘we,’ ‘us,’ and ‘they.’ I am not going to sit here and say ‘she’ because it blocks a lot of people out.”

Singer-rapper-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello wasn’t ashamed to speak about her bisexuality. She was one of the first artists to be signed to Madonna’s record label, Maverick Records, in 1992. Her latest album, Pour une Ame Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone, is due out October 9.

“I was very lucky in that Maverick Records saw it as a benefit and not a hindrance,” Ndegeocello says. “They thought of it as a marketing angle. I totally understood that. I never had to deal with pressure from them.”

On Ndegeocello’s controversial single “Leviticus: Faggot,” she spoke candidly about a young man discovering his homosexuality and the rejection from his family.

    •  Bisexual crooner Meshell Ndegeocello (left) performs during the Melbourne Festival finale concert at Sidney Myer Music Bowl in October 2010.
      “I saw people like Ellen [DeGeneres] and what she had to go through for people to accept her and all that she achieved,” she says. “She is a ray of light. That is what I’m trying to bring to the LGBT community. We are exceptional people. Let’s share our gifts, and don’t shun my gifts because of who I have a personal relationship with. Especially the NAACP and the black pastors who quit and are upset over Obama and him supporting gay marriage. You embrace a religion that aided in slavery, but you judge me on my sexuality? Let’s be rational. I want to help people to rise above that.”Though a few brave artists have come out, rising above homophobia will require significant effort from the R&B and hip-hop communities, both gay and straight. Ndegeocello acknowledges the difficulty: “I think it’s harder for men,” she says. “Men need a movement. It’s harder to be black, gay, and male. It makes me have the utmost respect for black gay men in an industry of hypermasculinity.”

      For several years hip-hop has been described as being at a tipping point with regard to homophobia, yet the toppling of a pervasive attitude has yet to be achieved. Frank Ocean hasn’t yet said what it means to be Frank Ocean, but with each significant coming-out, the haters have less standing to insist that LGBTs have no place in hip-hop.

      “The ones who are hiding are the main ones with the commentary, and want to beat you up,” Murs acknowledges. But he says there’s a greater purpose in coming out despite the difficulty. “You don’t have to be afraid. You can come out. All the directors, rappers, producers, and all your homeboys, why don’t you all come out together instead of partying in the hills and being secretive? You have to stop being selfish, and come out and help some other young person who is struggling.”

Guardian Article: American Soul Legend Stevie Wonder Says Frank Ocean Might Be Confused About His Sexuality.

'I'm no better than the next person' … Stevie Wonder.

‘I’m no better than the next person’ … Stevie Wonder. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe

‘All right, mate?” chirrups Stevie Wonder in a mockney accent last tried by Dick Van Dyke. He is tired, hardly surprising given it is 2.30am where he lives in California, but that doesn’t stop him from acting his usual playful self. Nor does it prevent him from talking at length about his 50-year career, and the events that shaped it.

He’s not one to hold back. Before long, he is vividly remembering the car crash in which he nearly lost his life. It was 1973, and the sedan in which he was travelling careened into a truck. His wounds were severe.

“It was on 6 August that I almost died in that car accident,” he recalls. It was a key date for another reason. “It was also on 6 August – 1988 – that my son Kwame was born. Life is funny.”

Does the crash remain the signal event of his life?

“It is significant,” he replies, and it’s a typical Wonder response, “but I was blessed to come out of it. God gave me life to continue to do things that I would never have done.”

Principal among these was the electrification of modern soul that he effected on his extraordinary series of 70s albums. They have exerted a tremendous influence on musicians, from Michael Jackson and Prince in the 80s to rapper Drake and this year’s most lauded new R&B star, Frank Ocean.

“Yeah, I like Frank,” says Wonder, who sang the hook from Ocean’s No Church In The Wild to the Odd Future sensation when he met him at a party recently. The feeling is mutual: reviews of Ocean’s 2012 album, Channel Orange, drew comparisons with Wonder’s music at its most expansive.

After being consigned to MOR-soul hell following the likes of I Just Called To Say I Loved You, Wonder – who next week headlines Bestival – is hip again. Is there anybody who doesn’t like him?

“Heh,” he chuckles, then pauses. “Well, there are those. But we don’t like to think about that.”

No, Wonder-haters are few. Maybe he’s thinking of his early days. InWhere Did Our Love Go?, a history of Motown, Nelson George noted the jealousy among staffers towards the 12-year-old-genius, even if detractors were soon silenced by his fabulous run of mainly self-penned hits: Uptight (Everything’s Alright)For Once In My LifeMy Cherie Amourand Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

Wonder in the early 60s.Wonder in the early 60s. Photograph: David RedfernIn 1971, he released the transitional Where I’m Coming From, which along with Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On was the first serious album from a label accustomed to singles. It was a brave departure from the Motown sound, with forays into psychedelia, baroque pop and folk-inflected soul.

“I had fun doing that album with [ex-wife] Syreeta,” he says. “Berry [Gordy, Motown boss] said: ‘Do your thing.’”

He recalls writing the song If You Really Love Me at the apartment of Laura Nyro, no stranger herself to the startling chord sequence. Fellow Motown songwriter Smokey Robinson, however, was unimpressed with his new direction after he saw Wonder on comedian Flip Wilson’s TV show.

“I got a call from Smokey and he says: ‘I didn’t like your choice of material. I think it’s really ridiculous.’ I said: ‘I don’t give a “uh” what you think, or what anyone thinks!’ That was my growing-up moment at Motown.”

Hooking up with Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff of electronic duoTonto’s Expanding Headband, Wonder pursued a radical synthesised context for his new soul vision. His purple streak continued with 1972′s Music of My Mind and Talking Book, 1973′s Innervisions, 1974′s Fulfillingness’ First Finale, culminating in 1976′s double-LP (plus additional EP) treasure trove Songs In The Key Of Life. With their dazzling melodies and blend of gritty politicised funk and elegant ballads, these albums appealed to rock and soul fans alike.

He overreached himself on 1979′s Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants, a double concept album full of new age noodling, but he redeemed himself, critically and commercially, with 1980′s Hotter Than July. And if his recordings since have been patchily received, there is consensus among music lovers that his golden age lasted longer than anyone’s, Bob Dylan and the Beatles included.

Wonder is adamant that his heyday of exploratory music-making is not over, despite the fact that his last album, A Time to Love,only his fourth LP proper in three decades, was issued in 2005. “I’m still experimenting,” he enthuses. “There’s a new instrument I’m learning to play called theharpejji. It’s between a piano and a guitar. I’m writing really different songs with it – I have so many. The question is, will they outlive me? Time is long but life is short.”

Does Wonder, who has just turned 62, have a growing sense of his mortality? “I don’t feel it,” he says of time’s marching. “I know it for a fact.”

He feels a pressing need to achieve in non-musical spheres, and digresses to discuss gun crime, a subject on which he has been outspoken. “I’m concerned about how accessible guns are,” he says. Is he referring to the “Batman shootings” in Colorado?

“No, I’m talking about in the hood,” he replies. “That [Colorado] was also very sad, but this is an occurrence almost every week in various cities. But no politician wants to confront it. The right to bear arms? What about the right to live?”

Does he fear what happened to John Lennon could happen to him?

“I’ve had threats,” he says, “but I don’t put that energy out there because that’s just craziness.”

Can he feel the same connection to “the street” that he did in the 70s when he penned sociopolitical anthems such as Living For The City?

“Of course,” he exclaims. “I travel and do stuff.”

What’s it like when he and his entourage sweep through town?

“I just focus on what I’m doing,” he says. “If fans take pictures … Every time I think about getting annoyed I remember how blessed I’ve been to have people who have followed my career.”

Is he in touch with the young man who wrote, say, Superstition?

“Oh yeah,” he replies, breezily. “I listen to him. And I make sure I feel the same way still.”

Performing for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, 2007.Performing for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, 2007. Photograph: Stefano PalteraMany of his best-loved songs were Nixon-era rebukes. These days, hesupports the president. What is his view of rappers such as Jay-Z, said to be turning against “B-Rock”?

“Well,” he sighs, striking a rare note of antipathy, “those who have turned against him, it’s because they’re ignorant or it doesn’t serve their own interest, which probably has to do with money. But the reality is, your money is only as good as you’re able to help others with it.”

Even before his accident, when his music was at its most supersonically joyous, Wonder spoke in dread tones of an apocalyptic future, and of the ominous present presaging it. “It’s the last days of life, of beauty,” he declared, referring darkly to “all the horrors and hypocrisy in the world”.

After the crash he became increasingly affirmative. But how do these times compare? Is he more optimistic now?

“I’m always optimistic, but the world isn’t. People need to make a jump to a place of positivity but they put it all on one person to make it happen,” he says. “It takes everybody. And the mindset has to be different. I mean, how do we have, in 2012, racism in the world?”

Did he assume that racism would be obliterated?

“It can’t be obliterated until people confront the demon in the spirit,” he says. No wonder one of his current roles is as a Messenger of Peace for the United Nations.

“You need to put your heart into making a difference,” he says, proposing “an end to poverty, starvation, racism and illiteracy and finding cures for cancer and Aids” as just some of the jobs that need doing.

Doesn’t he wish he could subvert his beatific image? Has the Messenger of Peace ever wanted to punch someone?

“No,” he says patiently, as though to a child who has said something particularly dumb. “When you punch somebody it means you have let your ability to communicate out the gate.”

Wonder mentions “the demon in the spirit”. How has he managed to endure when his revolutionary soul peers – Marvin, Sly Stone, James Brown – succumbed to torment and temptation?

“First of all,” he stresses, “I’m no better than the next person. But I’ve never had a desire to do drugs. When I was 21 I smoked marijuana, and I didn’t like the way it made me feel. When I woke up the next morning I felt like I’d lost part of my brain.”

Wonder has also seen the passing of younger talents: Michael Jackson,Whitney HoustonAmy Winehouse …

“It’s been a heartbreak,” he says. “Obviously I knew Michael.” In 2009 he broke down during a performance of Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel. “I knew Whitney, too, and I understand Amy came to my concert in England a couple of years ago. I was thinking about us doing a duet – an old Marvin and Mary Wells song called Once Upon A Time. It would have been amazing.”

Had he met Winehouse, would he have offered her words of wisdom, or would there have been no point?

“There’s always a point,” he says.

Recording We Are The World with Lionel Richie, Daryl Hall, Quincy Jones and Paul Simon, 1985.Recording We Are The World with Lionel Richie, Daryl Hall, Quincy Jones and Paul Simon, 1985. Photograph: APWonder has never gone off the rails, although when I ask whether a movie version of his life would be a drama, a comedy or a tragedy, he says: “All of the above.” Does he ever consider that it’s his “disadvantages” – being born blind and black – that have made him what he is?

“Do you know, it’s funny,” he starts, “but I never thought of being blind as a disadvantage, and I never thought of being black as a disadvantage. I am what I am. I love me! And I don’t mean that egotistically – I love that God has allowed me to take whatever it was that I had and to make something out of it.”

Does he never allow himself an egotistical moment to survey his career?

“Nah,” he says, “that’s a waste of time. I enjoy listening to the stuff I’ve done, but that’s it.”

Is he a genius?

“No,” he says, “I was just blessed to have ideas. The genius in me is God – it’s the God in me coming out.”

This summer, he met the Queen after performing at the jubilee concert in London.

“She was born under the same astrological sign as me: Taurus,” he marvels. “It was wonderful meeting her.”

When I suggest that, if anyone should have been bowing and scraping, it was the one who, by accident of birth, acquired enormous status and wealth, not the one who, by sheer hard graft, changed the course of popular culture, he disagrees.

“That’s because you don’t believe in the power and the spirit that is intangible but is all around us,” he mildly scolds. “There has to be a higher energy power.”

Nevertheless, Wonder is aware of his impact, and of those who have picked up his progressive soul baton, such as Ocean. Was he surprised that there could, in 2012, be a furore at the revelation that a rapper might be gay?

“I think honestly, some people who think they’re gay, they’re confused,” he says. “People can misconstrue closeness for love. People can feel connected, they bond. I’m not saying all [gay people are confused]. Some people have a desire to be with the same sex. But that’s them.”

In 1974, US rock critic Robert Christgau described Wonder as “a sainted fool”. He wrote: “I’m not saying he’s a complete fool; in fact, I’m not saying he isn’t a genius. But you can’t deny that if you were to turn on a phone-in station and hear Stevie rapping about divine vibrations and universal brotherhood … you would not be impressed with his intellectual discernment.” Certainly, with Wonder, you have to suspend your cynicism. But he has to contend with being narrowcast still.

“I’ve never said I was a soul artist or an R&B artist,” he responds when I venture that the music he made in the 70s was a soul version of progressive rock. “They’re just labels. When you’re soul it means black, when you’re pop it means white. That’s bullshit. If it’s good, it’s good. It’s like that old Jerry Reed song: ‘When you’re hot, you’re hot, when you’re not, you’re not.’”

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