This is just one of the multiple highlights existing on 4:44 -- which alongside Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN., became an immediate front runner for this year’s musical hub centered on the politics of hip-hop culture and blackness in America. And, it’s no surprise that in the third week since the LP’s release, 4:44 spends a second consecutive week in the penthouse of the Billboard 200.
Carter’s newfound freedom -- next to a wisecrack at the decolorization of football-hero-turned-tabloid-obsession OJ Simpson, an apology tour to a jilted mega-star wife, and subsequent battle with ego alongside financial stability and family legacy -- would be one of the many focal points sparking provocative conversations across the world.
For Tiq Milan, an LGBTQ advocate and writer featured on publications such as CNN, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian, the moments in “Smile” stuck out the most. So much so that it inspired him to tweet “Jay-Z was raised by a single lesbian mother. Where are all the gay bashing woman hating hoteps now?” Milan -- who identifies as a transgender man -- raised a valid (and valuable) point, opening the floodgates for some homophobic rebuttals, and most importantly more than 1,000 retweets and 2,000 likes.
But let’s dissect the significance of the tweet, shall we?
First, the term “hotep.” At first, “hotep” was used as a moniker attributed to black men who care about the well being and prosperity of his black community -- his ideology rooted in ancient Egyptian principles. The word actually means “at peace” in Egyptian. Over the course of time (and thanks to Internet culture) the definition became muddled and started being used as a derogatory term for black men with misogynistic, transphobic, and homophobic beliefs. Hence why Milan calls out this portion of JAY Z’s fan base, who writ in large comprise a key demographic of hip-hop’s storied tradition and culture.
On why he sent out the tweet, Milan explains to Billboard that the moment was inspired by his guest appearance on an episode of the YouTube series The Grapevine, titled “Hoteps & ‘The Gay Agenda’.” The Grapevine features a panelist of influential black individuals who debate topics essential to the community; on part one of the episode a self-described hotep claims that sometimes they can serve as the “black alt-right.”
About the filming experience, Milan says “There were queer people on there and hoteps, and of course the hoteps were blaming gay men for the downfall of the black community.” His tweet served as a counter to that widespread accusation: Here’s an iconic figure for the community who was raised by a lesbian mother.