Late last week, Atlanta rapper Young Thug monopolized headlines for a statement made in his V Magazine cover story, saying he wants people to “stop believing in genders”—declaration that clarified the fashion direction behind his Jeffrey album cover, where the artist wore a dress by Italian menswear designer Alessandro Trincone. This isn’t the first time Thug vocalized his non-binary perspective, the first being his fall ’16 Calvin Klein campaign, where he said “there’s no such thing as gender.”
While many have praised the rapper for breaking traditional gender roles—especially in the context of hip-hop—New York rapper Jay Boogie is not among his fans. Taking to Facebook, Boogie challenged his legitimacy, writing that he wished people would stop condoning his comment in V. “I’m almost sure shorty knows nothing about walking through a ghetto in a dress, on the subway, in the projects, in central bookings,” he said. “Talk to the Banjee Cunts if you want to know about a thug in a dress, the trans women of the ghetto, the actual faggots.”
Following Thug’s mainstream media storm, we asked Boogie to elaborate on his charged thoughts:
Do you think Young Thug is making an impact?
The only way to affectively impact a community is to be a part of the community and contribute to the evolution. A part of me is challenged by Young Thug’s epiphany about ‘not seeing gender,’ and another part of me wants to press him. My initial reaction was, ‘Is he really about this life?’ And I was unsure if it was click bait or if he was really going to preach some depth about the struggles that are faced as a free black spirit who doesn’t see boundaries in gender.
Are you skeptical of Young Thug’s authenticity?
I can’t question Thug’s Thugness, but I can question his stance behind gangstas wearing dresses—also his experience and history as such. What actions has this gentleman taken to actually speak to gangstas in dresses about the way this image is perceived and treated in the ghetto? As a recording artist, myself, I’m aware that music has the force to heal and create change—powerful enough to create a vibe and bring lyrics to reality with minimal effort. I’m patient, yet eager to speak to the person behind his statement in regards to the advocacy and activism that will follow up, whether it’s Jeffrey himself or his publicist.
What has your experience been like wearing femme clothing?
Growing up, I never suppressed my flamboyancy, I’d actually like to think that today I’m a bit more laid-back and ‘conservative.’ For me, I simply appreciated the way the cut on women’s clothing would hug my body, and in that spectrum of clothing falls a dress—that can be a maxi dress on laundry day or a mini dress on a show day, or maybe even a gown on a photo shoot. Regardless I have to navigate in-between all those spaces with a very tight grip on my instinct because I can be caught by the unknown at any moment in any place.
How do you see people responding to your style?
Me wearing a dress evokes a big range of emotion in people. Some cringe at the sight of me; some lust over me; some make fun of me; some compliment me; but some people want to kill me. That’s my reality, that’s my sacrifice and that’s my journey to my freedom in that dress Young Thug speaks of. It’s been that way since I can remember. So perhaps Thug should talk to those individuals who make it difficult for a ‘gangsta in a dress’ to navigate through the motions of the hood and city life.
How do you suggest Young Thug affectively provoke change?
In order to challenge the way gangstas in dresses are treated in the streets, we need examples on the scene and not behind-the-scenes. This is a matter of personality, courage, resilience and what you’re willing to sacrifice and endure to be happy. A gangsta in a dress is not a headline and there’s nothing groundbreaking about it—this is someone’s reality. A black male figure wearing a dress will always have a sense of shock to it, however some of us really live on-camera and off-camera. It’s only fair to speak from a place you’re familiar with or want to give back to, but I guess now by default Young Thug’s a spokesperson for gender fluidity and a ‘QPOC’ for a statement he made in an advertisement. Put it in a song, boo.