New York rapper and banjee-pride purveyor Le1f is the talk of the Internet after last week's release of his "Wut" video. It's an outrageous clip, in which Le1f sits on the lap of a built, oiled-up dude wearing a Pikachu mask, among things. How is that for unabashed queerness?
While Le1f and "Wut" are vibrant enough to go viral, there is nothing novel about his skill — check out the breathless and tongue-twisting second verse of "Wut" as proof. His voice is cartoonishly deep to the extent that it might all seem like a joke if his flow weren't so damn serious. "I'm getting light in my loafers," he says, and it sounds like he's immediately swallowing back every word that comes out of his mouth. There is a terrific balance of individuality, talent, gayness and taste here. That we live in a time that could give birth and positive attention to Le1f is a beautiful thing.
Not all of the attention has been positive, though. Both World Star Hip Hop and Bossip posted this video last week with a jeers suggesting that Frank Ocean's queerness is contagious and it is infecting hip-hop. "See What Frank Ocean Started?: Gay Rapper Le1f "Wut" Music Video" read Bossip's headline. "This Is What Happens When Rappers Start Admitting Their Gay? Hip-Hop Artist Le1f - Wut" is World Star's perfectly brain-dead take. To Bossip, Le1f tweeted, "He started it? Or are you just late." In response to all of the other predictably intolerant feedback, he said, "YO HOMOPHOBES: LAST TIME I CHECKED I WAS STILL A BROKE NIGGA LIVING IN THE PROJECTS, THO. EXPLAIN THAT ONE." Props for perspective.
On his vision, Le1f told Fader: "I am gay, and I'm proud to be called a gay rapper, but it's not gay rap. That's not a genre. My goal is always to make songs that a gay dude or a straight dude can listen to and just think, This dude has swag. I get guys the way straight rappers get girls. I'm not preachy. The best thing a song can be called is good." "Wut" is not good; it's great, and Le1f's view of his place in music is as seductive as it is idealistic. Get into it.