The 1975’s Matty Healy is one of the most open interview subjects in music right now — ask him virtually anything and he’ll respond with his thoughts, and lots of them. “Maybe I just have a fast-moving mind,” the singer recently told Rolling Stone. “Not a particularly good or bad one, just a fast one.”
That capacity got him into some trouble this week, when an interviewer for The Fader asked Healy, a recovering addict, about drugs in the music industry. His response, in part:
One of the problems is the youth of hip-hop. At the moment, with SoundCloud rap, it’s become a bit of a drug-taking competition, and that happened in rock’n’roll. Those things get weeded out the longer those things exist. The reason misogyny doesn’t happen in rock’n’roll anymore is because it’s a vocabulary that existed for so long is that it got weeded out. It still exists in hip-hop because [the genre] is so young, but it’ll stop. That’s why you have this moment with young black men—Kanye-aged men, as well—talking about their relationship with themselves, which is a big step forward for hip-hop. Drake, for example. But then they’ll be like, “But I still got bitches.” The scene’s relationship with women hasn’t caught up to its relationship with itself, but that’s something that will happen.
There are a few problems with these comments. Healy is repeating an old fallacy when he suggests that rock & roll has evolved beyond misogyny, and he comes off as condescending at best when he reduces the entire genre of hip-hop’s attitude on gender to “I still got bitches.” And the idea of rap as a wasteland of young people on drugs borders on racist cliché. There are complex historical issues involved here, and they’re ill-served by off-the-cuff comments from a white male pop star.
To his credit, Healy accepted these critiques when they were raised by fans. “I would never deny the RAMPANT misogyny that exists in Rock n Roll,” he wrote in one of several tweets on the subject today. “It’s everywhere and has been a weirdly accepted part of it since it’s inception… BUT now looking at what I said – I was simplifying a complex issue without the right amount of education on the subject.”
While he initially described the Fader excerpt as “not at all a misquote,” Healy appeared to backtrack on that point later, adding: “Just to clarify I’m not apologising for saying ‘rock music is void of misogyny’. I didn’t say that. Any body who says that is not only thick as fuck they most probably don’t have physical eyes. It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard… I’m apologising for the fact my words could INSINUATE that misogyny in culture and music is an exclusively hip hop (black) issue. I do not believe that. What I believe is that I’m not educated enough to speak on THAT properly and a big part of that is this white dick that I have.”
The 1975’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is out now.