Kevin Abstract’s ‘American Boyfriend’ Challenges Homophobia, Racism

Ian Simpson aka Kevin Abstract releases American Boyfriend – his 90s themed album about being gay, describing his high school experience of feeling like an outcast. Ian’s stereotypical Texas conservative household becomes the muse for his album.

Story | Matthew Gonzalez

The Texas rapper battles drug addiction, a heart break and wanting to escape from society throughout his journey. His persona “Kevin Abstract” is a social media identity – all of Ian’s inner insecurities, influences, and fears symbolized by wearing a helmet.

Empty by Kevin Abstract

In high school he met the first boy he ever fell in love with. “I don’t know what it is that I love so much about high school, but I’m attached,” he said. “The empty hallways. The teachers. They made me feel so much. Even if [some of it] was bad.”

American Boyfriend’s track list includes 16 songs including the single “Empty”.

From his homosexual experiences in the song “Seventeen”, the punkish “Blink” is one of the darker songs on the album that evokes his drug use from lack of companionship, attention and being bullied, and opening his doors to newcomers into his life with “Friendship” – Kevin Abstract supplies an album that has varying sounds while maintaining his unique voice.

For instance, “Tattoo” — influenced by 3rd Eye Blind, Semisonic, and other 90s alternative bands — is where the Texas rapper explains that typical 9-5 jobs are outlets that simply waste your life.

Immediately, it switches over to “Yellow”, an acoustic song that relates his religious beliefs to his own relationship. The way Jesus sacrificed himself, according to the Bible, is how we must sacrifice ourselves in our own relationships.

American Boyfriend also involves songs with Kevin Abstract’s electronically enhanced vocals in “Suburbian Born” and the gospel sounding “Runner”.

Kevin Abstract
via The Fader

Leaving various sounding tracks aside, his family is still the primary muse to American Boyfriend. After his father grows on the assumption that his son is gay in “Kin”, Kevin’s self-confidence and self esteem as a gay Hip Hop artist is challenged in “Flintridge”.

Papercutis about heartbreak. Within the song Kevin is reminiscing on interactions he once had with his female lover. Holding hands, Facetiming, and nervousness was explainable, but he couldn’t help but feel “empty” overall:

“Can’t tell my family I’m bi/Can’t tell my mother I’m gay/The hardest part of my day/Is wishing I was fucking straight/Life could be so fucking easy man”

“Miserable America” is Abstract’s personal narrative of homosexuality, his mother being homophobic, and his close friends being racist. It describes America’s hatred towards Kevin’s identity with lyrics: “Assassinate my character”.

I do (End credits) is featuring a girl singer singing “fuck you” to a society that attacks individuals like Kevin for his sexual orientation. She describes that it’s ok to be yourself to have control over your own sense of identity. Only you can be exactly who you want to be.

At the end of the day, Kevin urges us to accept and love ourselves. Although he’s ran into his fair share of homophobes and racists, he’s managed to embrace them and create an album that gives America a big “fuck you” — as described in the final track “I Do (End Credits)”.

Kevin was born into his character. He, like many other Americans face the struggles of being unaccepted into society. But as the leading voice for not only gay millennials, but millennials dealing with voicelessness, he’s only looking to inspire those to accept themselves with even more music that’s to come.

American Boyfriend can be downloaded on iTunes.

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