In August, 2005, three weeks before his nationally televised declaration that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” Kanye West made a statement he’d later describe as braver and more difficult than his attack on the White House. Hip-hop, he told MTV, was supposed to be about “speaking your mind and about breaking down barriers, but everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people … I wanna just come on TV and just tell my rappers, tell my friends, ‘Yo, stop it.’ “
Taking on Bush was a perfectly hip-hop move, but taking on homophobia, West feared, could be career suicide. Undeterred, he revisited the subject in a November 2005 interview, discussing his love for his openly gay cousin, not to mention his conflicted but evolving attitude toward his interior decorator. West’s call for tolerance remains the highest-profile rebuke of gay-bashing that hip-hop has seen.