Isaiah Rashad shouldn’t have to address his sexuality to fans

The rapper opened his set at Coachella with a moving video montage that served as his first public response to the leaked video that appeared to out him.

Isaiah Rashad
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Isaiah Rashad opened his set at Coachella over the weekend with a moving video montage that acknowledged the recent public scrutiny over his sexuality. Splicing together clips of media commentary from others over the past several weeks, the film served as the rapper’s first public response of any kind to a leaked video from earlier this year that allegedly showed Rashad being intimate with other men.

“The purpose of doing that was to embarrass him,” an audio clip in the opening film said. “However, it backfired. When his video leaked, his streams and everything went up. He’s up on the charts now.”

Indeed, the montage, featuring vocal support from the likes of Joe Budden, The Game, and DJ Akademiks, summarized the largely accepting response from the hip-hop community after the video was leaked, ostensibly with the goal of outting the rapper. “I’m glad that he can finally be himself,” Akademiks said in the film.

The message lands with a kind of bittersweet taste — the very fact that Rashad feels compelled to respond in any way about his private life is an unfortunate result of the invasive and nightmarish situation he was put through. Nevertheless, Rashad’s response — in the opening to his set on one of the biggest stages in music, no less — was heartening and brave. It afforded him a way to reclaim, and end, a narrative that never should have existed in the first place.

It was also a meaningful tribute to his peers and fans, whose support clearly moved him. He briefly but meaningfully thanked his supporters, who were excited to see him perform cuts from his latest album, The House Is Burning. “I’ve seen all the messages and all that shit, all the positivity,” he told the crowd. “Y’all n—s kept me alive these last couple months.”