Hip hop's relationship with gender identity has gone through stages of contention and 50 Cent is doing something that could very well change things. The G-Unit honcho will mentor a transgendered teen for his new Dream School series, premiering next week on The Sundance Channel.
The show, executive produced by the Queens MC and his G-Unit Films, pairs youngsters with celebrity and political mentors like Swizz Beatz, David Arquette and the Rev. Jesse Jackson to guide them towards their perspective goals. Fif's episode focuses on Alan, a teen born female but living as a male. "I want to graduate and get away from the people at my school," the high schooler says on the show.
Aside from being bullied, being transgendered has caused family struggles for Alan as well. "I went to the hospital. My mom just didn't even visit me. I wish I was the person my parents wanted me to be. I wish I was born the person I am now because … I was born a girl."
The step is a surprising one for Fif, but not unusual. Despite using a homophobic slur on "In the Club," he later rapped about childhood confusion from seeing his "mother kissing a girl" via "Hate It or Love It" and has denied any ill feelings towards the LGBT community. As he explained to TheWrap.com, musical content doesn't necessarily reflect one's views. "When you actually make music that mirrors the environment, you use the terminology," he said. "You use the language. Like if you were making a painting, and you were painting the American flag, if I told you to do that, and not use red, not use the harsh terms or the tougher messages, you would never successfully paint the flag.
"I would use terminology that would be going around," the rap mogul continued. "My grandfather may say terms — people may actually say terms based on their experiences that were happening at that point … You’ve got people that would call some people a redneck, or some people n---a. It’s the term of that time or that period. They’re not necessarily racist, but they’ve heard those terms used around them, and they use them."
With artists like Frank Ocean being open about their sexuality, 50 also says that he sees a progression in hip hop as it relates to LGBT issues, adding, "When new artists or new approaches come to culture, it grows."
Dream School premieres Monday, Oct. 7 at 10 p.m. ET.
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(Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Sundance Channel)