This is a complicated story to tell. Misogyny, misandry, rape, consent, slut shaming and victim blaming are not exactly pleasant topics of discussion, but this week they were all brought to the forefront of #raptwitter. Danny Brown's Old & Reckless Tour is well underway. The Detroit rapper's first headlining national outing has been doing well so far, and he and opening act/protege Kitty have been critically well-received. Last Friday, however, when the two hit Minneapolis, Minnesota, things got incredibly uncomfortable. During his set, a young female audience member at the front of the stage allegedly grabbed at Brown's penis and flashed her breasts. Then, this young female audience member allegedly proceeded to remove said penis from Brown's pants and perform oral sex on him. In the since-deleted Twitter exchange above with Kendrick Lamar, Brown gives his only direct comment on the situation so far. Kitty, however, wrote an in-depth op-ed on VICE Magazine's NOISEY blog earlier this week.
I've met Danny Brown a couple times. The first was at this past South By Southwest in Austin. It was his birthday, and I was sharing my one hitter with him backstage at a Fools Gold show. It was my last night in town and I was proactively chasing quotes. He seemed somewhat reluctant to be in a crowd. I asked him what was the craziest thing he'd seen this year at the fest.
"I dunno, two girls eating each other out?" he said, shrugging
I was kind of surprised. Not because he had been so sexually graphic (which by now I'm well desensitized to in rap culture), but because that was really so crazy to him. Like a lot of his fans, I associated Danny Brown the person with Danny Brown the lyrics until that night. A lot of the content on his debut album, XXX, is straightforward sexual prowess braggadocio, particularly the records that have had the farthest reach. I've seen the kind of backstage environments that Brown and his peers often inhabit, and I have seen groupie thirst in some pretty wild forms. I was surprised because I had a hard time imagining such a self-proclaimed pussy hound would find a road show threesome so crazy. I remember thinking to myself, "Is that not just like, a Tuesday for you?" What I actually said was more like "Really? Is that so crazy?" He looked up at me, shocked at my indifference.
"Well it's pretty crazy to me! I don't know about you, but I definitely don't see that shit every day!" he replied, as if I must have been out of my mind.
I'm telling you this because this is how I know that Danny Brown is not some kind of Caligula-esque exhibitionist sexual deviant who would be comfortable with performing any kind of sexual act on stage at one of his shows. In meeting and talking with him since then, I've come to know him as a very introverted individual, who much prefers listening to records home alone over the wild parties he describes in his lyrics. I don't believe this was a planned publicity stunt, nor do I think Brown would have ever imagined being in this situation until it happened to him. That being said, his response to Kendrick was in poor taste and all-around misogynistic. Obviously, hindsight is 20/20 and that's why tweets are deleted. But it goes without saying that this controversial half-blowjob will not be swept under the rug just as easily.
I've seen some pretty graphic things at hip-hop shows over the years. One time, I saw a woman lactate all over a table of A.Dd+ merch in a completely unsolicited attempt to impress Slim & Paris. But never have I ever seen a rap show turn into a backroom at a seedy strip club before my eyes. Nobody wants to see that. And in this case, both Danny and the groupie in question are to blame.
My Thoughts on This Whole Danny Brown Oral Sex Thing is a great read, and a strong argument. Kitty's editorial voice may even be stronger than her voice as an emcee. She refers to Brown very endearingly in it, and as her "best friend." She makes the case that he is a victim of rape, a fact she claims is being ignored by the media because he is a black man, and his alleged attacker is a white woman. Kitty even compares Brown to Tom Robinson and herself to Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, in an extreme and tacky reach to spin this "thing," as she refers to it. Excerpt:
So what was Danny supposed to do, other than back away, which he did? And if he had figured out a way to gently push the girl off him immediately without looking like he was smacking her in the face, he's faced with attacks on his masculinity by every douchebro in the building. Yo dude, you don't want your dick sucked, bro? Are you gay? Haha you're gay you don't want girls to suck your dick haha gay dude bro man swag! And that's a rapper's literal nightmare.
For Kitty to try and martyr Brown as a defendant of his masculinity is appalling, and only perpetuates the seriously tainted ideology through which men define their masculinity in hip-hop culture. Danny Brown is a grown man, 13 years Kitty's senior, in fact. It is in no way her place to make this argument for him, or try to rectify the deleted tweet. Kitty even goes so far as to urge the media to seek out the offending groupie. She's a good writer, and I don't fault her at all for publishing her thoughts on this situation. But by the end of the article, what started off as a heartfelt call of support to her friend starts to sound like a desperate attempt to try and save her first big tour from a PR nightmare.
I'm mad that even though they know exactly who the girl is, nobody in the media will even talk to her... why doesn't Ricky Smiley or whoever just talk to this girl? I know why. It's because everyone wants the option of blaming it on Danny, because people can't accept the fact that a white girl raped a black dude in front of a bunch of people.
Well, she's right. These circles are smaller than you think, and there is a particular groupie that #raptwitter has collectively decided was "the groupie." In a real classy move, Peter Rosenberg of HOT97 has even gone as far as tweeting her to ask point blank for confirmation. I'm not going to tell you who this groupie is, or draw any more attention to her Twitter handle (which has already been changed and switched to private). As a (D-list at best) member of the media, I think it's important for Kitty to know that I have no intention of ruining any lives here. This story is reaching pretty far. I'm sure a lot would be at stake for this groupie if her legal name was dropped into this news cycle. I'm sure she has a regular job, and people in her life who she needs to not see her as a complete slut-monster. It's disappointing that Kitty, who's previously published article in NOISEY about the burden of being cyber bullied by the masses, would encourage such public shaming.
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Whoever this mystery groupie is, I'm sure she's reading this. That's what groupies do when they pull stunts like this, they check for the press. I hope she takes away some important lessons from it all. Context is everything. If Danny Brown was tells you, "If you're looking for a real pussy eater, I can be it" in one-on-one conversation, then by all means, offer to take him up on his claims. But if he says it to you onstage, while you're amongst an audience you paid admission to be a part of, you are socially and legally responsible for keeping your hands and mouth to yourself. But in the same vein, if you think it's difficult to sympathize with Brown as a victim in the context of him publically bragging about the incident to Kendrick Lamar, you'll find it even more difficult if you end up watching the video footage that is now circulating on the internet.
Winning Tweet: @hexmurda
I'm trying to help out rappers by raising money for the NIGGAS ON STAGE DICK DEFENSE FUND by selling "DON'T STEAL MY SKEET" tees.
— SlumVillain (@hexmurda) May 2, 2013