The Man in Black bids farewell: Johnny Cash leaves a legacy of profoundly influential music.

The album with the title of the century so far has the beats and the smarts to tune ears and turn heads. Recorded in 2002 by the Deepdickollective, ‘seven queer Negroes’ (their term) from San Francisco and only now properly available, BourgieBoho is a début rap album that combines the polemical capacity of Public Enemy with the poetic flow of Gil Scott Heron. The only difference? This is the rap that dares to speak its name: homohop.

That gay hiphop has come out of the closet so gloriously is a delight to anyone who has listened to the homophobic onslaughts of stars such as Eminem and, yes, Public Enemy, and wondered whether they protest a little too much. BourgieBoho seems to have the answers.

It’s a highly literate, polished route that Tim’m West (aka 25 percenter), Juba Kalamka (aka Pointfivefag), Phillip Atiba Goff (the Lightskindid Philosopher) and their colleagues negotiate through ‘misty-eyed’ Afrocentrism, homophobia and racism. They do it with theoretical lucidity and no sledgehammer politics.

But the really great thing about BourgieBoho is that the music’s so good: the Deepdickollective have also served time as performance poets and studio wizards. The deconstructed beats owe something to drum’n’bass minimalism, but just as you lock into a groove, this ensemble surprises with a loop of lush violins. It’s an album that sets the agenda, musically and politically, for some time to come.

New Internationalist issue 365 magazine cover This article is from the March 2004 issue of New Internationalist.
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