For as often as hip-hop artists fight the established system and offer progressive takes on issues of inequality, there are still moments primed for growth.
One of those came on Friday (Sept. 18).
During an interview on "The Breakfast Club" on New York's Power 105.1, Waka Flocka offered an intolerant perspective on Caitlyn Jenner and her recent transition, saying she's "rebuking god."
“Women are afraid to be a wife, and young males are afraid to be men," he said roughly nine minutes into the 34-minute talk. "They don’t market families and husbands and wives no more. They’re marketing young girls, transgenders -- they’re marketing evil. It’s really evil. Evil is marketed. I'm a god-fearing man. I ain't no religious man. But I'm just saying, come on, man, I ain't got nothing against nobody preferences but putting it on TV, that's crazy. Kids is the only people watching TV. Adults is too busy, man. They trying to control life. So you can't stop your kids from watching certain channels. They gonna watch it."
From there, he spoke more specifically about Jenner, and upped the ante on his hate.
"If I grew up, right -- and I ain't saying nothing against Bruce Jenner -- you follow me? You are who you are when god made you, not who you became after he did," he said. "That's how I feel. You rebuking god. God ain't put them feelings in you; that's the devil playing tricks on your mind. That's a test from god. If you can't out-beat that one task, and you believe that, then you gonna believe everything else. You going down that way."
There's a lot going on here.
We can start with the fact that he calls Caitlyn Bruce which, in itself, is disrespectful. From there, though, there's his invoking the devil and his alleging that transgender people are merely mentally weak. Those are both faulty premises. None of the show's hosts -- Charlamagne, DJ Envy or Angela Yee -- chose to push back.
It's a disappointing stance from an artist who had some other salient points, about different topics, during the course of the interview. At one point, he underscored the importance of getting an education:
That sh-t is not gangsta: Getting Fs in school. I never in my life skipped school.
Later, he took down materialism, one of rap's oft-critiqued tropes:
That's why I stopped wearing jewelry. I started traveling [to other parts of the world], I started seeing these [things], I was giving my diamond chains [away]. Breaking it apart. It changed my perception on life.
Those words from a dude who himself didn't finish school, and who himself used to wear lots of jewelry and buy expensive cars. So clearly he's open to evolving his perspective, and hopefully it'll evolve on this soon, too. And there's reason to think that he -- and others like him, including Snoop Dogg, Timbaland and Eminem, who have posted or said hateful things about Jenner -- will ultimately progress his views on this, too.
But not all of hip-hop has been spewing hate. In fact, rap's most prominent voice -- who, hey, how 'bout that, actually knows Caitlyn -- has been beautifully supportive.
"I think this is one of the strongest things that has happened in our, you know, existence as human beings that are so controlled by perception," Kanye West told Caitlyn in an "I Am Cait" clip from earlier this year. "You couldn't have been up against more: Like, your daughter is a supermodel, you're a celebrity, you have every type of thing, and it was still like, 'F--k everybody, this is who I am.'"
Quick side note: Kanye for president.
OK, back to transphobia in hip-hop... It's actually something that looks a bit like an issue we've seen before.
It wasn't too long ago that homophobia ran rampant within hip-hop. And while it hasn't been completely eradicated, there's certainly far more open-mindedness and support today than there was fifteen, five or even one year ago.
When the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal earlier this summer, some of hip-hop's biggest names voiced their support, while rappers like Jay Z and T.I. had come out in support years earlier.
Really, it sounds like Waka's comments, and those of others like him, come from a place of ignorance, of a lack of understanding of people in the transgender community, of not knowing someone who is transgender. And that is some of what, contrary to what Waka suggests, makes the presence of Caitlyn Jenner -- and others like her -- on TV and in the public all that much more important: It can advance our collective understanding and open us up to acceptance.