Like many of you, I have been following the news coming out of the Minneapolis hip hop scene over the last several days, where multiple artists have been accused of inexcusable behavior ranging from sexual and physical assault to emotional abuse and beyond. I’ve avoided making a statement until now because as a heterosexual white man and as someone who has never lived in Minneapolis, I didn’t want to drown out anyone’s voice that had their boots on the ground in the Twin Cites that might have better perspective then myself. I wanted to make sure these voices were being heard, and I wanted to make sure I myself knew what I was talking about, to fully understand what a deeply rooted issue this has been for years. When the news first broke with the accusations aimed at one DJ, it was easy to condemn him and his musical partner that has maintained a sexist party boy image for years.
As the women continue to come forward and the list of names continue to grow, it has not been as easy to grapple with. Some of them are artists that have been reviewed favorably on Scratched Vinyl and some of them have been interviewed as well. I’ve promoted their work online and played their music as part of my deejay sets. As a general rule, I try to be a good ally and try to not knowingly promote music that is openly sexist, homophobic, or otherwise hateful. The truth is that over the years, we’ve come to learn that just because an artist presents themselves as “better than” or “one of the good ones,” that doesn’t mean much if their life offstage and behind closed doors doesn’t match the words in those songs that moved you. So when these women come forward, as much as it might hurt to learn that one of these artists you like has been an abuser, we need to believe these women and offer our support.
I maintain a unique position as someone who is not entirely an insider or an outsider, but as I’ve been processing all this information, it’s become clear to me that I’m not always the best person to be a judge of character. People are going to present themselves as the best version of themselves to me if they know that I can book a show, give them an interview, write something nice about their album, or otherwise give their career a boost. I try to take cues from women in the industry I know, but as I’ve seen in the last few days, some of them have been shocked and hurt because they considered at least a few of the accused men to be friends and allies.
So what do we do going forward? There is not an easy fix to any of this, certainly, when the problem is so deeply rooted. Step one, though, is to believe the victims. It’s not easy to come forward, to relieve the trauma, and to not know what the consequences might be when they finally speak up. Believe them and offer them your support.
If you have the means and would like to contribute financially, Angel Davanport of Big $ilky is collecting money and redistributing to the survivors to make sure they can get the treatment they need and are otherwise taken care of. You can donate at:
If you don’t have the money and would still like to make your message of support heard, please sign the petition started by Psalm One: https://www.change.org/p/twin-cities-music-community-a-safer-live-music-community-for-women-bipoc-trans-queer-people-in-the-twin-cities-area
Another course of action is to boycott Rhymesayers. Don’t buy their albums, don’t buy their merch, and don’t go to their shows when touring is allowed again. I can’t point fingers at every individual associated with the label for their specific actions, but it has become clear that as an entity, they have been culpable in creating a boys club atmosphere over the last twenty years, and at least a few bad actors well within their ranks, if not at the top, have caused a lot of harm to a lot of people over the years. It’s going to take more than a formal statement to make things right. They’ve broken public trust and it will be a long road to redemption for them.
Also, as someone who books a showcase every year at SXSW, everyone’s safety is our top priority. Miss Manners and myself do our best to create an inclusive environment at Dive Bar, giving you a diverse bill full of men and women and gender non-conforming artists of different backgrounds to try to showcase the best possible face of independent hip hop. We’ve never been approached with the news of anything bad happening at one of our shows, or been told that one of the artists that played our showcases did anything to cross a line, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened. If something has happened to you or someone you care about at one of our showcases, or even if you just have a suggestion for things we could be doing to make things safer and more inclusive, we’d love to hear from you. You can email or DM us and let us know.
Scratched Vinyl wants to be part of the solution in any way we can help. If you’d like to speak to us on or off the record, feel free to contact us, whether it be to talk about specific incidents in the past or other possible additional steps we can take moving forward.
It breaks my heart to know that so many people are suffering right now, and that so many different men involved in the Minneapolis hip hop scene are responsible for this pain. Right now, as a hip hop community, we can decide if this is the time that we take these women’s stories seriously, if we hold the bad actors responsible for their actions, and if we look within and figure out what steps we can be doing better in our personal and professional lives to make things safer in the future.