The Marshall Mathers LP 2, the latest record by Eminem, came out this week hot on the heels of the controversy surrounding the single “Rap God.” In the track, the 41-year-old rapper makes more than liberal use of the word “faggot” and uses “gay” as a perjorative. This has, understandably, whipped up a whirlwind of controversy, criticism, as well some nostalgia for the original MMLP.
From Eminem’s slurs, to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s support, to Le1f’s (who even claimed Macklemore ripped off his rap song) and Frank Ocean breaking barriers in the rap game, it seems that homosexuality and rap is one of the more heavily discussed topics in music. But as up-and-coming queer rapper Chapman notes, it’s rarely the gay rappers who do the talking.
As the young MC asks in his viral hit “Gay Rap Song”: “These words come out fast, I got a lot to say, so why Macklemore need to say it for me?” Alex Chapman, a Chicago native and burgeoning New York MC, is acutely aware of the paucity of gay representations in art.
“I love TV; I love movies; I love art. I never really see myself in that; I can never be, 'Oh that’s me,' ” the young rapper explains when we recently discussed the subject in an interview. “It was upsetting to me that the media kind of positioning Macklemore to be this icon for gay rights even though he's not gay at all. I don't think Macklemore has an evil agenda."
Chapman’s got a point. As Steve Grand and Chely Wright both enjoy the distinction of “queer country star,” Frank Ocean, for now, shies away from the pink spotlight, and Le1f gets billed as an indie artist, it seems that there’s still a gay lacuna in rap. It’s a gap that Chapman’s looking to fill. He wants to make it big in the industry and he’s made that clear from the start. He called his debut EP XL Life, and that wasn’t just because Chapman’s 6-foot-3. “I have a lot of drive,” Chapman says. “Just to remind my self what my goals are, where I want my life to go, and how I want my songs to sound. I want them to sound big. I want to lead an extra-large life.”
From the opening of powerhouse track “Warrior Pose”—“Started from the closet now I’m poppin’”—to the blissed out soft landing of “So Hi!,” XL Life is a solid, masterfully crafted EP that showcases both Chapman’s talent and his still untapped potential.
Luckily for us, we can expect more from Chapman soon. “The first step was an EP, and now I'm just letting that simmer right now and making sure people hear it,” says Chapman. "I feel like I've put a good thing out. I'm sitting on XL right now, I definitely want to work on an album, and there is a lot I want to say.”
Check out more of Chapman's sound on his tumblr