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The Complex, Bizarre Evolution of Rap & Porn’s Long Relationship

The Complex, Bizarre Evolution of Rap & Porn’s Long Relationship

Photo Credit: Illustration by Olivia de Castro
Photo Credit: Theo Wargo/Getty Images

From Luther Campbell to Kool Keith to Kanye West, pornography and hip-hop have had a long, complicated, and — at times — bizarre relationship.

In September 2018, Kanye West served as the creative director for the first-ever Pornhub Awards. During the event adult film stars wore the dystopian chic of West’s Yeezy brand, presenting awards in the monochromatic wardrobes people have come to associate with his fashion line. That night, he premiered the video for his song “I Love It,” featuring Lil Pump.

The pairing made sense. West is a known fan of the popular internet porn site and has even shared his preferred video category on national television. But the pairing is also the latest example — and reminder — of rap and porn’s long partnership.

Since its inception in the ’90s, rap and porn’s relationship has arguably been viewed with irreverence, a topic that often goes undiscussed save for lists dedicated to rappers who’ve directed, produced and/or performed in adult films; porn stars who’ve tried their hand at rapping; and porn stars who’ve appeared in rap music videos. The two have also shared a similar ethical history, both treated as taboo. But the pair’s relationship has evolved and had notable moments that highlight the merit of their union, from innovative adult films like G Unit’s Groupie Love, which foreshadowed the immersive 360 capabilities of contemporary porn, to Young M.A directing and producing a lesbian adult film for Pornhub (the rapper identifies as lesbian).

Source: Artist

At the root of rap and porn’s relationship is a subgenre of the former called dirty rap. Also known as porn rap or pornocore, dirty rap is defined by its sexually explicit lyrics, with rappers and rap groups like Too Short and 2 Live Crew being pioneers of the subgenre. The latter propelled dirty rap to the mainstream through their debut album The 2 Live Crew Is What We Are and their third album, As Nasty As They Wanna Be, a double-platinum LP that was the first in history to be deemed legally obscene.

By the late ’90s, Luther Campbell, the leader of 2 Live Crew, had begun his foray into the adult film industry, creating the pay-per-view TV series Luke’s Peep Show. Peep Show, which started in 1997, was an hour-long series where Campbell served as host and producer, interviewing rappers like The Notorious B.I.G., Lil’ Kim, JAY-Z and Tupac, often in environments where sexual acts were taking place in the background. The most notable of these is Campbell’s chat with JAY-Z in 1997, where the two talk while a woman has oral sex with another woman — the Brooklyn rapper noticeably uncomfortable throughout. Snippets of the interview have resurfaced online in recent years.

“I’m the first who brought adult entertainment to hip-hop and girls on videos and all that,” Campbell said in a past interview. “Everybody else just playing with it.”

In 1997, Funkdoobiest member Son Doobie performed in the adult film Vivid 6: Son Doobie, Porn King. He followed that up with 1999’s Son Doobie The Love Doctor. (Doobie’s time as an adult film performer was referenced in Eminem and Dr. Dre’s “Guilty Conscience.”)

That same year, Kool Keith appeared in the absurd and bizarre adult film Sex For Life Too as a character Deli Boy. According to this review, the film featured everything from “a deranged guy accidentally beating his wife to death with a phone book” to “alien porn producers.”

The enigmatic rapper also opened his own porn site that year, SmackMyBitchup.com. Touted as “first and only hip-hop pornographic website,” users who paid a membership fee were given access to graphic photos and film clips — none of them featured Keith — as well as samples of unreleased music from the rapper. Keith abandoned the website after Columbia Records, was releasing his album Black Elvis/Lost in Space at the time, took issue with it. In 2012 Tyga would launch a similar site called RackCityXXX.com where fans could pay $24.99 for exclusive photos and movies. He launched the site with Rack City: The XXX Movie, an adult film featuring adult film stars he picked himself, from Havana Ginger to Kristina Rose to Jada Fire. (About the film, he said: “This is really me, this is really my vision.”)

Photo Credit:
Monica Morgan for Getty

DJ Yella also began a career in the adult film industry in the mid-’90s. Shortly after Eazy-E’s death in 1995, the N.W.A member started editing and producing adult films. But unlike Campbell, Yella’s name wasn’t attached to the initial titles he helped create.

“I jumped in as a producer. I shot it, filmed it, edited it, took all the pictures — I just never starred in it,” Yella told Real Talk Hip-Hop in 2015. “I did a whole bunch under an alias.”

Yella has directed over 300 adult films — including two Straight Outta Compton porn parodies.

The 2000s saw rap and porn’s relationship expand further as artists and owners of adult entertainment companies saw the cultural and financial benefits of working with each other. There were films from Snoop Dogg, Lil Jon and G-Unit and adult hip-hop-themed TV shows like Ken “Buckwild” Francis’ Buckwild, which featured rappers Andre 3000, Busta Rhymes, and others talking about sex with half-clothed women. Rappers brought the porn industry new customers while the porn industry served as an extension of the hedonistic personas rappers had — even though most of them never acted in a sex scene.

Source: Hustlers

The pairing resulted in some notable hits, most notably 2001’s Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle. Directed by Snoop (under the pseudonym Michael J. Corleone), the film featured a predominantly black cast: from India — along with being an adult film star she was also an artist, having had a group called The Heat with Ty James, Rick James’ daughter — to Jesse Spencer, better known as Mr. Marcus. Spencer, who has acted in and directed over 1,800 films and was inducted into the Adult Video News (AVN) Hall of Fame in 2009, described the atmosphere of the film shoot as “half party, half porn shoot,” with people a part of Snoop’s entourage — including Tha Eastsidaz and Nate Dogg — present.

“I thought it was cool that Snoop was making a porn movie, cause I knew he was a brotha that had respect in the streets, music was bangin’ and I peeped how he had mainstream shit going on too,” Marcus said. “I was thinking, ‘Don’t fuck this up, lets make this movie legendary.’ And I know we did, cause we came back a year later and we shot Diary of a Pimp with more money and more girls.”

Doggystyle was a commercial success and led to Snoop being credited as the first mainstream rapper to make a feature-length commercial porn film because of the success of Doggystyle. Per a 2004 story from the New York Times:

“In an industry where a video that sells 4,000 copies is considered a runaway hit, ‘Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle’ sold somewhere ‘in the hundreds of thousands,’ according to Larry Flynt, president of Larry Flynt Publications, which owns Hustler Video. It was named the top-selling tape of 2001 by the porn trade publication Adult Video News and was the first hardcore video ever listed on the Billboard music video sales chart.”

The film was also a critical success, receiving the award for Best Selling Title of the Year at the 2002 AVN Awards. A black director had yet to receive the award up until that point.

Three years after the release of Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle came the commercial and critical success of G-Unit’s Groupie Love. The two-disc film was innovative for its time, allowing viewers to select partners, sexual positions, camera angles, even the dispositions of the women (”naughty” or ”nice”). Groupie Love reached No. 1 on the Top 200 rental charts administered by AVN and received the award for Best Interactive DVD during the 2005 AVN awards.

Source: Bank Shot Productions

Other rap adult films were released throughout the 2000s too. There was the Liquid City series that began in 2002 with Mystikal which was essentially an accompaniment to Louisiana adult performer and rapper Chaos’ album release of the same name. (Subsequent versions of Liquid City featured Jadakiss and Dem Franchize Boyz.) In 2002, Naughty By Nature’s Treach released Treach’s Naturally Naughty Porno Movie, where he participates in a threesome with adult film stars Chocolate and Obsession (he became the “first major rapper-turned-actor to go frontally nude in a movie” according to Spin). In 2003, Too Short released Get in Where You Fit in. Five years later, Coolio released his own adult film, Coolio & the Gang Bang.

With the rise of pornographic video sharing sites in the 2010s, there’s one in particular that has created a notable relationship with rap — Pornhub. Since its launch in 2007, Pornhub has become the largest pornography site on the internet. Last year the site had 33.5 billion visits and 92 million daily average visits. Pornhub has had rappers create promotional videos for the site. They also premiered music videos by rappers, most notably Waka Flocka Flame’s “Bust,” which was teased as a sex tape. (Turns out that the tape didn’t exist and was actually an April Fool’s Day prank to promote the video.)

Pornhub has also enlisted rappers to direct films for the site. Last year, The Gift, a film directed and written by Young M.A, premiered on the site. The first mainstream artist to direct a film for Pornhub, Young M.A’s The Gift is an all-girl lesbian movie that also features music from the openly gay Brooklyn rapper. Since its release, it’s received more than 18 million views, the film the first a part of Pornhub’s The Visionaries Directors’ Club series, which enlists creatives to make adult films that “diversify porn production and help create more varied content.”

See Also

Young MA at A3C 2018
Photo Credit: Shaughn Cooper

Prior to The Gift, all rap adult films catered to the male gaze, with most of them playing into the hedonism of celebrity culture. In The Gift, Young M.A is never seen but heard, the focus on the women engaging one another in a way that feels and looks authentic. In this instance, the relationship between rap and porn is more subtle but still important, a reminder of how the two’s relationship has been led by men and not women. Young M.A was a refreshing take on that relationship — an indicator that there’s still so much creative potential between the two that has yet to be explored.

But the pair still tends to rely on the same tricks. In 2016, Emmanuel Bruno Jaramillo, better known by his porn moniker Bruno Dickemz, created an adult video series called Groupie Lust. Like its predecessors, the series relies on the rap groupie archetype, Dickemz using his famous friends to coerce women into having sex with him. Those famous friends represent the contemporary rap scene in South Florida, with artists such as Denzel Curry, Ski Mask the Slump God and others making appearances in various videos.

Dickemz, who grew up in South Florida, became a fixture in the underground rap scene around the time he started establishing himself in the adult film industry. He hosted rap shows at his house and even managed Ski Mask and the deceased XXXTentacion, prior to them achieving mainstream success.

“I’ve got the nice house, I’ve got the girls,” Dickemz said to The Daily Beast. “I’ve got everything these kids want. They see I’m obviously older and wiser and a lot of them don’t have any guidance or direction or good management. It just worked.”

The women of Groupie Lust aren’t actually “groupies” but adult film stars: Gina Valentina, Marsha May, and others have appeared in the series. The rappers don’t participate in the sex scenes, their cameos all functioning in a similar manner: they invite fans to a recording session or to listen to music and assure their fans they’ll be able to hang out with them more — but only if they have sex with their friends first. Only two rappers have ever recorded sex scenes for the now-defunct Groupie Lust — Tracy and XXXTentacion. Dickemz told The Daily Beast that the latter’s video, which was made prior to the rapper’s fame, is “in the archives” but he doesn’t intend to release it “out of respect for his late friend and his mother.” Prior to his death, XXX promoted the video on his Twitter account and fans have made countless Reddit threads dedicated to the video. However, Dickemz has shared two short adult videos that XXX apparently directed on his Twitter account.


To discuss Groupie Lust is to also acknowledge Dickemz’s proximity to XXX when the rapper allegedly began abusing a woman he was intimate with. The woman who accused XXX of abuse, Geneva Ayala, lived with the rapper when he was staying with Dickemz. In Ayala’s deposition, she said that the “first incident of domestic violence occurred about two weeks” after she moved in with XXX. In a story released by the Miami New Times, it was revealed that the house was Dickemz’.

In the age of social media, both the music industry and the adult film industry have become decentralized. Now, adult film stars can monetize their work through platforms like Snapchat and OnlyFans, offering exclusive content to their subscribed members. Although a video between a rapper and a porn star has yet to surface on the platforms, it’s not unimaginable. (The closest example of this is arguably Adam22, the host of the rap podcast No Jumper, who occasionally appears in his girlfriend Lena The Plug’s adult videos on Camversity. The site allows its members to purchase tokens that they can then offer to the creators of the videos.)

There’s still a cultural and financial gain to be had with rap and porn’s relationship. But as Groupie Lust and The Gift have shown, the relationship can also result in innovation and progress that showcases not only how adult content can be consumed and viewed but who it’s catered toward.

Photo Credit: Illustration by Ellen Fabini

 

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