Last Tuesday, Atlanta rapper YFN Lucci released the video for his song “Boss Life,” featuring Offset of the rap trio Migos. Controversy quickly followed, when listeners discovered that Offset rapped the phrase “Pinky ring crystal clear, 40k spent on a private Lear / 60k solitaire / I cannot vibe with queers.” A pretty clear-cut example of a homophobic rap lyric.
Instead of owning up to the abhorrent lyric, Offset tried to explain himself. He posted the dictionary definition of the word queer (“strange; odd”) as a defense against those who thought he was insulting people who identify as queer. His thin apology made a specious correlation between those who work in fashion and being gay, which in an attempt to explain away his homophobia just stated a poor stereotype about gay people.
Cardi B, the New York rapper who is currently Offset’s fiancé, tried to defend her partner, by saying:
“Now, that’s a word that you guys say that it’s a bad word for gays—I never even heard that word in the first place—why don’t y’all educate people about it? A lot of people are not aware about what’s wrong or right in the LGBT community. Why don’t we do things to educate instead of bashing and trying to label something that they not?”
Her defensive tone was similar to Offset’s half-hearted apology. While Cardi’s desire for more education is spot-on, neither one could admit to his use of the word “queer” being wrong.
This isn’t the first time that Offset has faced accusations of homophobia. In a Rolling Stone profile, the writer following around Migos mentions how Atlanta rapper/singer iLoveMakonnen had come out as gay and how his announcement was well-received by the music community. Offset replied: “That’s because the world is fucked up,” dismissing Makonnen’s moment of self-actualization.
Perhaps Offset didn’t know “queer” is used as a slur—but looking at the work of his contemporaries, including rappers he’s collaborated with, it’s hard to argue that. Last year, Future, another Atlanta rapper, used “queer” in his song “I’m So Groovy,” saying “Fuck your squad, they some queers.” 21 Savage, who did a joint tape with Offset called Without Warning, said “Feel like I’m the last real rapper ‘cause these niggas weird / Nah, these niggas queers,” on his song “Close My Eyes.”
The U.S. still struggles with homophobia despite having made great strides for the rights of LGBT people in recent years, so Cardi B and Offset aren’t alone in perhaps not fully understanding how hurtful these words can be. But it’d be great if they could use this opportunity to look inward instead of casting blame on those who are only trying to inform them of their missteps.