How Murs Told the Best (Gay) Love Story In Hip-Hop History
People have an idea about Hip-Hop being homophobic and in the wake of Frank Ocean’s coming out party, a lot of noise is being made about how there is going to be a paradigm shift and questioning what it means to black music. We’ve already written about what it means, but I wanted to take a few minutes and hip you to a song that has a bigger meaning for the music than anyone admitting they play for the other team.
Last October, indie Hip-Hopper Murs dropped his Love & Rockets album. For those who don’t know, Murry is one of Hip-Hop’s best storytellers. He isn’t as heralded as Ghostface or Biggie or Slick Rick, but I’d wager outside of Ice Cube and Boots Riley, he may be the best storyteller the Left Coast has ever seen. There is a song entitled “Animal Style,” the closing track of the album that depicts a tragic tale of love ending in a murder/suicide. In the span of less than five minutes Murs laid down background, introduced character development, fleshed out the story and dropped a narrative that totally has you buying into the characters and leaves you stunned at its conclusion. To take the song from strong to culturally necessary and historic, the love story is between two guys, Roderick and Jonathan. Below is the song in its entirety:
As soon as I heard this song, I knew it was one of the most important rap songs I had ever heard. I also knew that it would be buried beneath the media’s love for pop music and Hip-Hop journalism’s fear of covering anything that would advance us as a culture. Ski Beatz laid a powerful track down which ebbed and flowed with each act of the story. It isn’t a case of a powerful lyrical song muted by weak ass beats. There’s no reason that as powerful as this song is and as visceral the story conjured that “Animal Style” didn’t have the effect of Eminem’s “Stan.” It should have been given a video and been lauded and held high as a message about the real range of Hip-Hop and the power of this music at the Grammy Awards. Instead, it languished in obscurity on one of the best Hip-Hop albums you never heard.
Hip-Hop journalism used to be the only way to properly represent and even sometimes defend this culture and the music and translate the life on our terms. Somewhere on that journey, journalists became reactionists and apologists and dropped the ability to interpret and to forecast and translate who we are collectively. Instead we have become gossip mongers and heralds of ignorant shit. Instead of Hip-Hop’s secret service we have more often than not supplied the bullets for cultural character assassination. With all due respect to the courage (and hopefully not publicity stunt with an album coming in two weeks) of Frank Ocean, we don’t need his fucking coming out party to change ideas of Hip-Hoppers. Murs didn’t need any of that shit. Just 4:53 of “Animal Style.”
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