Why Young Thug and Frank Ocean's Success Matters

August 26th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

Both Young Thug and Frank Ocean released new music last week. Equally as important as their new albums, the artists did something important for men.

They're shattering the hyper masculine definition of what it means to be a successful hip hop and R&B artist.

The cover of Jefferey "Young Thug" Williams' new mixtape, "No, my name is Jeffery," features the rapper in a dress. Last year, he also wore a dress in a Dazed Magazine photo shoot.


A photo posted by ""JEFFERY"" (@thuggerthugger1) on



A photo posted by ""JEFFERY"" (@thuggerthugger1) on

Ocean, who wrote an emotional coming out blog post in 2012, has the best selling album in the United Kingdom, and it's heading to number one in the U.S., according to Billboard.

However, Ocean was hesitant to come out of the closet, because he was afraid it would affect his career.

“So, you know, you worry about people in the business who you’ve heard talk that way,” he said to GQ. “Some of my heroes coming up talk recklessly like that. It’s tempting to give those views and words — that ignorance — more attention than they deserve. Very tempting.”

Both artists have received criticism for their decisions to be open about who they are in the hip-hop and R&B world, which is generally characterized by straight black hyper masculine men: Ocean as a queer man, and Williams as a straight cisgender man who likes to wear dresses.

Many of the social media reactions from hip-hop fans have been incredibly homophobic for both artists, even though Williams identifies as straight.

However, the backlash doesn't appear to have hurt either artists' career. People are still listening to their music, according to the Billboard charts.

Their success could broaden the definition of masculinity in the hip hop world, and people feel inspired.

There are no figures out for William's mixtape yet, but his album art has been liked and shared thousands of times. Oceans' "Blonde" is the third biggest album of 2016, only behind Drake's "Views" and Beyoncé's "Lemonade," according to Billboard.

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