Three weeks ago, the number one album in America was Eminem’s Kamikaze, which received backlash for its homophobic lyrics. This week, a hip-hop group with an out-and-proud gay member is at the top of the charts.
Self-described “hardest working boy band in show business” Brockhampton scored their first number one album with Iridescence, the rap collective’s fourth album. The LP debuted atop the Billboard 200 with 101,000 records sold.
While hip-hop records are no stranger to Billboard’s number one spot—12 of this year’s 32 number ones were hip-hop (13 if you count the Black Panther soundtrack)—it’s certainly a first for a hip-hop act with an unapologetically gay bandmate.
Founding member Kevin Abstract, whose real name is Ian Simpson, has regularly rapped about his sexuality in his lyrics—including his struggle coming out to his mother.
“My boyfriend saved me, my mother’s homophobic, I’m stuck in the closet, I’m so claustrophobic,” he rapped on his 2016 solo track “Miserable America.”
On Iridescence, Abstract even dedicates a love song to his boyfriend Jaden Walker.
“I really like how you do all the things that you do. I really like how you say all the things that you say,” he gushes on the track boldly titled “Something About Him.”
The hip-hop community is often criticized for being unwelcoming to the LGBTQ community—and Abstract hopes to be a force for change.
“I don’t want to be labeled as a ’queer rapper’, I just want to be a rapper,” he said in an interview with BBC Radio 1. “I have to exist in a homophobic space in order to make change and that homophobic space would be the hip-hop community. So me just existing and being myself is making change and making things easier for other young queer kids. I want to be me and express that and break new ground along the way.”
Brockhampton fans took to Twitter to celebrate the band’s success and what their achievement means for the queer community.
do y’all realize we just witnessed the first gay hip-hop artist to get a #1 album? brockhampton is changing hip-hop
— dillon 14 (@jobajouvert) September 29, 2018
THE GAYS ARE NUMBER ONE IT’S 20GAYTEEN BIIIITCHHHHHH I LOVE YOU BROCKHAMPTON
— audrey (?) (@disableist) September 30, 2018
brockhampton saving the lgbt community once again
— 『imani』15 days (@roseygIoss) September 24, 2018
lgbt stands for lets get brockhampton to the top
— lia (@leeuuhh_) September 27, 2018
Stream Iridescence below.