Is indie hip-hop sexist?

Multi-talented emcee and writer Kyle "Guante" Myhre has a compelling essay up over on Culture Bully today asking some tough questions about what is typically considered to be "socially conscious" hip-hop, and it's worth reading all the way through. Myhre starts out the essay with a question that was also floating through my head on Sunday as I watched all of the great hip-hop acts perform at Soundset: Where are all the women?

Sure, Dessa was working the audience and I even saw her pose for some photos with fans, but she only performed as a guest during P.O.S.'s set and wasn't listed on the bill herself, despite being one of the biggest female hip-hop performers in the Twin Cities. And what about other ladies like Desdamona, Maria Isa, or countless others who contribute to our scene at home and abroad?

The lack of women at one particular festival is certainly not cause for an uproar, but Myhre makes a pretty compelling argument that Soundset's lineup is a symptom of a larger problem in the indie hip-hop scene:

Sexism in hip hop is a lot bigger than rap videos and misogynistic lyrics. It's the old-boy's network that keeps women's voices marginalized. It's the fact that so ridiculously few up-and-coming emcees, DJs, producers and industry/label people are female. It's a system that keeps men and men's perspectives front-and-center in every aspect of the game. It's an extension of the sexism that permeates the rest of society. And it's definitely not just the mainstream's problem.

Myhre goes on to make some very thoughtful suggestions about how hip-hop fans, promoters, and participants can all work together to gradually shift away from sexist attitudes, regardless of how subtle they may seem on the surface. Read the whole essay over at Culture Bully, and leave your own thoughts in the comments.

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