To J. Cole: an open letter from a faggot

Dear Mr. Cole,

I have just listened with interest to the first track, “Villuminati” from your new Born Sinner album; and my attention was caught most not by the excellent beat or your finely-tuned flow, but by a couple of lyrics early in the song. They were these:

“My verbal AK slay faggots and I don’t mean not disrespect
Whenever I say faggot, okay faggot? Huh, don’t be so sensitive
If you want to get fucked in the ass
That’s between you and whoever else’s dick it is, pause
Maybe that line was too far
Just a little joke to show how homophobic you are
And who can blame ya?”

Well, let’s take this line by line.

• The first thing is that I’m not sure that you mean no disrespect. Calling for my slaying, whether metaphorically or otherwise, isn’t the most cordial of greetings.

• There’s also the issue of the word “faggot”, which when said in such an apparently aggressive fashion as this is pretty much the same as a racist cop calling me “nigger”.

• There then follows a blanket assumption about what gay men do in bed. Of course, an ignorant heterosexual man’s analysis of gay sex between two men is about as welcome as a woolly sweater in a steam room, but thank you for giving us your two cents. Actually – wait. No thank you. No thank you at all. Please close our bedroom door, we didn’t ask you to open it.

• It’s a strange claim that, by drawing attention to your prejudice, I myself am prejudiced: “Just a little joke to show how homophobic you are”. I would also suggest that, when you have more than 3.8million Twitter followers as you currently do, then such a “little joke” is not in fact so little, and that’s why I am responding to it.

Mr. Cole, two things are almost entirely certain about this letter to you. The first is that you will not read it. The second is that you will not care. As a result, I have decided to write it merely for the record. The truth is, of course, that two gay men having sex is absolutely no threat to your career. What is a far greater threat to your career, at present, is the pressure to produce outstanding material in the lull helpfully provided by the absence of Jay Electronica. That should be the greatest focus of your attention.

It’s early days to say so, but your views on gay men may do some damage to your legacy. Of course, two of the reasons that you enjoy the platform you currently do in the USA – “a young black man with a college degree” – are James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin, two great human beings who knew a thing or two about the word “legacy”. They were both gay black men, and their names ring through the ages. Time will tell if yours does the same.

Regards,
Musa Okwonga

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