I don’t doubt that, upon first glance at this post, a lot of you are thinking; ‘Who the fuck is F. Virtue?’.
I’m glad you asked.
F. Virtue (real name: Will Kowall) is a Canadian born rapper, blog writer, performance artist, and an overall impressively talented and creative individual currently living in NYC. Releasing music through his artist-collective/label Fameless Fam, Virtue has acquired a dedicated (and adoring) following over the years. He’s remained an active head in the [hip hop] scene and though this may be your first time hearing his name, he’s made numerous impressions; including sharing a stage with the likes of KRS-ONE, George Watsky, RA the Ruggedman, Matt and Kim, Sage Francis, Ikey Owens (Mars Volta) as well as plenty of other accomplished artists you might be familiar with. Between countless live shows and over a dozen album releases, Virtue is seemingly more productive than all of your favorite rappers. Oh, and have I mentioned? He’s gay.
Maybe I mentioned that lastly because it doesn’t matter. Because I’m supportive and not bothered by it. Or maybe because I’m just finding it out now. In his latest track release (appropriately titled “Anita Bryant”), Virtue lifts the curtain and opens up (in an amazing way) about his sexuality and personal experiences with homophobia in the hip-hop community and culture as a whole. The result is a must-watch video delivering his most powerfully brave, honest, and important work to date.
So how does a gay man feel at home in a culture that consistently, and often maliciously, puts down homosexuality? This is something that F. Virtue has apparently struggled with his entire life – and would like for you to think about.
It’s this struggle that, until recently, has been strong enough to keep homosexuality entirely unseen or heard in hip-hop culture. You could cite the coming out of a Frank Ocean or the open support of a Murs or a Macklemore to say it’s all progressing, but these are baby steps that haven’t impacted how millions of people are thinking and feeling. Virtue’s personal account is a prime example of the ground we have left to cover – this was not an easy confession to make.
From the Fameless Fam Website:
“When F. Virtue heard ‘faggot’ in rap songs, he winced.
As a young MC who was closeted and uncomfortable being gay, it was never easy hearing a musician he admired put down his sexuality. So, he pretended to be straight while building with notable hip-hop scenes, knowing one day he would have to write this song, and subsequently make this music video”
Within the lyrics of “Anita Bryant”, our bold poet makes a very clever observation; he skillfully attacks the hypocrisy of spewing hatred for a people through an art form created as an outlet for honesty and self-expression, particularly on the topics of oppression and discrimination.
This culture’s his release
but by this culture he’s neglected
though it’s roots are from oppression
his objections are rejected
A well put and unfortunate truth.
If you’re finding this article out of character for SLAM then just bare with me. I’m not posting this to be preachy or make political statements. This is not the proper forum for that. I’m posting this because it represents art and culture in it’s rawest form. With rap music aging and it’s content within verses becoming increasingly empty or arbitrary, it’s refreshing to hear a rap artist with something to say – and something so personal and vital to his conscience. Further, it’s nice (and distinguishes an artist from a mass consumer product) to be shared with rather than sold to. “Anita Bryant” has left us with a lot to dwell on and it reminds us that awareness is never overrated. Plus, it’s just a really good song.
Get the full version of the track along with F. Virtue’s latest album “We Are Not The Shame” and more from Fameless Fam artists on their official website.
Follow F. Virtue: @famelessvirtue