When R&B singer-songwriter Frank Ocean's revelations of a romance with a man last week shook up the hip-hop world, many stars, including 50 Cent, spoke out in support of the Odd Future star. Now, Los Angeles underground rapper Murs has taken the discussion one step further with a groundbreaking new music video, "Animal Style," a dramatic demonstration of support for gay rights.
In the video for "Animal Style," taken from his latest release, "Love & Rockets Vol. 1: The Transformation," Murs -- who identifies as straight -- plays Roderick, a closeted 17-year-old high school student in love with his openly gay boyfriend Jonathan.
The video traces the unstable love story of the two conflicted boys -- an ultimately tragic tale filled with moments of self-hatred and religious confliction that leads to an altogether disturbing and unexpected ending.
Murs, known for making raw underground tracks, is seen wearing a "Legalize Gay" T-shirt throughout the clips. He kisses his character's boyfriend in the video's final shot, representing a prominent and powerful heterosexual endorsement of gay rights in a community that has stayed mostly silent on the issue in the past.
"'Animal Style' is a song I did for many reasons," Murs said on YouTube. "The first was to be an advocate for people close to me who are out, and those who have yet to come out."
Murs also calls the track a love song, and purports that he wanted to challenge the listeners to ask themselves, "Is the love shared by two people of the same gender really that different than the love I have for my partner of the opposite sex?"
"Finally, I just felt it was crucial for some of us in the hip hop community to speak up on the issues of teen suicide, bullying, and the overall anti-homosexual sentiment that exist within hip-hop culture. I felt so strongly about these issues and this song that I had to do a video that would command some attention, even if it makes some viewers uncomfortable," he said. (In addition to its violent conclusion, the video includes harsh language.)
Murs' video rings especially relevant in the wake of Ocean's busy couple of weeks. The hip-hop community that has often been criticized for its homophobia and rigid view on masculinity, came rushing to support when the R&B star discussed his first, male love in a poetic note on Tumblr.
Def Jam co-founder and hip-hop legend Russell Simmons said, "Today is a big day in hip-hop," noting a new chapter for hip-hop. He continued in a letter on Global Grind: "I am profoundly moved by the courage and honesty of Frank Ocean. Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear."
In a recent interview with MTV, 50 Cent rallied support for Frank Ocean, saying, "Anyone that has an issue with Frank Ocean is an idiot."
After President Obama came out in support of gay marriage earlier this year, Jay-Z told CNN that homophobia is, "no different than discriminating against blacks. It's discrimination, plain and simple."
Frank Ocean's "channel ORANGE" is currently Billboard's No.1 R&B/Hip-Hop Album. His single "Thinkin Bout You" is No. 13 on the Heatseekers Songs chart.
"The results of how popular [Frank Ocean's] music becomes now would say how cool or uncool it is to be in the open," 50 said.
Hip-hop has long been a powerful vehicle for social change. A gay-themed song by a rapper could be a huge step in its struggle for social acceptance.
Watch Murs' "Animal Style" below and let us know what you think: