Legendary hip hop DJ Mister Cee is in the headlines again. On September 11, after an audio clip detailing new prostitution allegations was posted on the Internet, Cee took the airwaves to announce his resignation.
“It is not a mystery that the past two years I’ve been through a lot,” he said. “When you dealing with corporate America, and you dealing with a station you love as much I as love this station, you don’t want to put them through this…I’ve been thinking about this day for a long time. I never want to be in a situation where I’m pushed out. I’ve been at this station for 20 years, since 1993. If I want to go out, allow me to say I’m going out. And the station is allowing me to have that, and I appreciate that.”
Mister Cee has faced similar allegations before. In 2011 he pleaded guilty on two separate occasions to the charge of loitering for the purpose of engaging in a prostitution offense. This past May, he was accused of soliciting an undercover cop who posed as a male prostitute, and publicly addressed the accusations with his radio colleagues. On Thursday, Cee again went on-air with Hot 97 program director Ebro Darden to explain his resignation, breaking down into tears several times as he talked about his internal struggles.
It’s no secret that for much of its history, hip hop has not been kind to gays. But over the past decade or so, the genre’s homophobic atmosphere has shifted. 50 Cent, Eminem and Common have backed away from past anti-gay lyrics, Ice-T, Kanye West and Mackelmore have repeatedly spoken out against homophobia, and icons like DMC, Jay-Z and Ice Cube have voiced their support for marriage equality. And of course, there was the seismic coming out of R&B singer Frank Ocean.
But for all this progress, there has yet to be a successful mainstream rapper who is gay or bisexual. Straight allies speaking up for equality is one thing, but an audience fully embracing an openly gay or bisexual artist is another. As courageous and groundbreaking as Frank Ocean’s coming out was, he never identified himself as gay, and rarely speaks about topics related to his sexuality in interviews. What all this means is, save for a few references to a male lover on Channel Orange, listeners don’t have to confront the reality of Ocean’s sexuality when listening to his music. It remains to be seen if an artist–a rapper in particular–that takes a more aggressive approach would be accepted in the same way.
Mister Cee once DJ’d for Big Daddy Kane. He discovered The Notorious B.I.G. and was the associate executive producer on his classic debut Ready To Die. He is a towering figure in hip hop. But during the Hot 97 interview, his cited fear of a backlash from “the streets,” along with his West Indian background, as reasons for concealing his activities. If an undisputed legend like Mister Cee is afraid of fans and the general hip hop world’s reaction, how terrified might an up-and-coming emcee be?
As the interview/confessional came to a close, Mister Cee had admitted to receiving “fellatio from transvestites,” but insisted he never had sex with another man. He also insisted he was not gay; and he may not be. He may be bisexual. He may be straight. Ultimately he is the only one who can truly know. Coming out is a personal decision, a process and journey that is unique for each individual. Mister Cee’s journey may result in a permanent return to Hot 97; Darden made it clear he considered Cee family and wanted him to stay, eventually convincing him to do his noon show Thursday.
In the end, what’s most important is for Mister Cee to be honest with himself, be it publicly or privately, and embrace his own truth. Listen to the interview here:
Kevin Clarkston, Butlerway Music, Entertainment & Political writer.