A Hip-Hop Group With an Openly Gay Member Has the No. 1 Album in America

Rap collective Brockhampton scored their first no. 1 album with "Iridescence."

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.

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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.

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“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.

Stream Iridescence below.

Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie and pop diva addict living in Manhattan. Follow him on everything @dirrtykingofpop.
@dirrtykingofpop