Last night, Migos dropped a 24 song
slog album. Somehow, even though the record is 9 hours old as I write this, approximately 85% of twitter has a half-formed opinion about it. More interesting than the record itself are those behind the music, caught time and again with the proverbial foot in their homophobic mouths.
In an era obsessed with deeming things “classic or trash,” we also love to deem things “woke or broke.” And when we find something decidedly broke, we love to find ways to excuse the actions of the people behind the microphone, either by accepting half baked apologies or contorting ourselves like knotted up earbud cables.
And of course, when it comes to Migos, their behavior falls more neatly into hip-hop history and what we, as a society, have deemed permissible. After all, they’re just using some unsavory words, which barely registers in a country so desensitized to violence, whether linguistic or physical. On top of this, the shift of music to streaming obscures the flow of money, and easily lends itself to the bystander effect: it doesn’t matter if I stream this person’s music, because it’s really only a fraction of a cent, and anyway, other people with greater moral fortitude won’t.
Personally, I’m of the opinion that on a micro level, very little of what we do matters. No, I don’t stream XXXTentacion’s music, but Capitol Records president Steve Barnett still took time out of his day to tell uneasy execs working under him that XXX was economically worth the moral malfunction. After a certain point, it’s easy to throw your hands up, say fuck it, and listen to some Kodak Black, or Rich the Kid, or Chris Brown, or R. Kelly, or Famous Dex, or 6ix9ine, or or or (And to be clear: white artists are just as abusive and sick: think Brand New’s Jesse Lacey, The Gaslamp Killer, Real Estate’s ex-guitarist Matt Mondanile, to name just a few)
The flip to this is that we have to be able to stomach the culture we create and enable. Action Bronson really said “Close up of Drunk Mexican Tranny after Bes poured a Bottle of water on its head” in an instagram caption, and 4 years later he has a tv show where he gets paid to travel and eat delicious food. Fuck that’s disheartening. And as much as I would like to claim the fault lies with the artist, or the cultural gatekeepers, or the record label executives, or or or… at some point, I, like many of you, have to face the fact that when it comes to music, we vote with our ears every time we open Spotify. Migos’s homophobia is so jarring not due to its violence, or its obscenity, but because of its banality. We discuss it not because it is new, but because of what it reflects about ourselves.