BE THE CHANGE study on Gender inequalities is live; take the survey now!
It’s 2023. Women and queer artists are finally creating their own space in music all over the world. However, the Desi Hip-hop scene, which has traditionally been male-dominated for many reasons, still hasn’t found a space for other genders, both upcoming or established. It is still customary to see lineups without diversity, consequently resulting in a lack of diversity in the audiences. An excellent example is the upcoming 50 Cent show in Mumbai later this month with DIVINE, Prabh Deep and SVDP x Yung Raja.
What do women and queer artists want?
Expanding on the idea that opportunities for more cultural and gender diversity in music lineups can lead to positive change in the industry, it's crucial to recognise the multifaceted benefits of such inclusivity. This shift towards diversity isn't just about meeting a quota or ticking a box; it's about acknowledging the wealth of creativity, innovation, and transformative power that comes with it.
When the music industry embraces diverse voices, it gains access to a vast reservoir of fresh and inventive ideas. Musicians from different backgrounds and perspectives bring unique stories, experiences, and world-views. This diversity enriches the artistic landscape by introducing new themes, genres, and sonic landscapes that can reshape musical scenes, cultural narratives, and even individual identities.
But it's not just about musical innovation. By promoting diversity, the music industry can foster a more inclusive and representative environment, essential in an era where social consciousness and awareness are more important than ever. Diverse lineups can send a powerful message that the industry is committed to breaking down barriers, challenging stereotypes, and promoting equality. In doing so, the music industry has become a powerful force for social change and progress.
However, it's important to stress that achieving diversity and inclusion is not solely the responsibility of underrepresented groups. It's a collective effort. The music industry as a whole has a responsibility to create a level playing field where people of all genders and marginalised groups can thrive on their own terms. This means not just giving handouts or token opportunities but providing a genuine seat at the table, where these artists can have their voices heard and contribute to shaping the industry.
In this context, initiatives like the "BE THE CHANGE" study by MIDiA Research led by a team of incredible women - Hanna Kahlert and Tatiana Cirisano, serve as a crucial tool for amplifying voices and creating a more inclusive and representative industry. One of the most important things about the study is that, while it highlights the experiences of women and queer people in the music industry, it also actively surveys people from around the world across genders to:
- Understand what women and gender-expansive artists and executives want to see as change and why.
- What men and allies can do to help.
- How can we all be better towards marginalised groups in the music industry, enable diversity and promote inclusion?
What happens when you bring gender diversity into the music industry?
The presence of women and queer individuals within the music industry is a compelling argument for creating a safer and more inclusive environment, not only for those working in the industry but also for the audiences that engage with the music. This dimension of diversity addresses deep-rooted issues of discrimination and sexual harassment that have plagued the industry for too long. It's a decisive step towards nurturing a healthier, more supportive and respectful community for everyone involved: the artists, industry professionals, and art patrons.
When the industry becomes more inclusive and diverse, it sends a clear message that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated. It establishes a precedent of respect and equity, where individuals can pursue their passions and careers without fear of prejudice or mistreatment. Music events become places where people can come together, free from the shadows of discrimination and harassment, to celebrate their shared love for music. This not only creates a more pleasant and empowering work environment but also translates to safer and more enjoyable experiences for audiences.
Moreover, the presence of women and queer people in executive and behind-the-scenes roles is essential for broadening the industry's accessibility and relatability. By diversifying leadership positions, the industry becomes more representative of the broader population, connecting with a more comprehensive range of listeners. Representation at all levels allows for better understanding and catering to the diverse tastes and preferences of the audience, leading to more authentic and relatable music experiences. This inclusive environment fosters connections between artists and their audiences. When listeners see themselves represented on stage, behind the scenes, and throughout the industry, it forms a deeper and more personal bond with the music and its creators. People can better identify with the artists they encounter, feeling a sense of shared experiences, struggles, and triumphs. This connection not only enriches the music experience but also strengthens the relationship between the artist and their fan base.
From a business perspective, a more inclusive music industry can significantly expand its reach and profitability. When the industry reflects our diverse world, it naturally appeals to a broader demographic. This broad appeal extends to a more comprehensive range of listeners, leading to increased ticket sales, album purchases, and streaming numbers. Inclusivity becomes a powerful driver of financial success.
By actively curating lineups that embrace a wide range of voices and experiences, the industry becomes a platform for a rich tapestry of perspectives, stories, and musical styles. The result is not only a more equitable and respectful environment but also a more profitable and resonant industry that resonates with a diverse and engaged audience.
Keeping all this in mind, we’ve compiled a short list of Women & Queer artists in Hip-hop who we think should be on 50 Cent show lineup and, further, every Hip-hop lineup (we basically did your work for you!):
Irfana Hameed is a Kodaikanal-based Rapper and Singer. Irfana’s affecting discography explores provocative themes of anti-fascism, Tamil and Muslim culture, and femininity. The ferocious lyricist behind the critically acclaimed ‘Ko-Lab’ EP, Irfana is one of the earliest rappers signed by Def Jam Recordings India under Universal Music India.
Within the last year, KINARI has emerged as one of the foremost voices for the LGBTQ+ community in Delhi's Rap scene. "Pretty avaz baby mai kinnar," she raps in her viral single 'PURRRRR' from her summer mixtape QUEERBOPS (released under her former moniker FINSTA).
Krantinaari, also known as the "Voice of the Revolution," is a multi-faceted Artist, Rapper, and Graphic Designer from India. Her music is a unique blend of Hindi and Kannada and she uses her platform to empower women, speak about sustainability and promote social justice.
NAVZ-47 is, first and foremost a musician. A Vocalist, Rapper, Lyricist & Composer, she’s also part of the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in Canada. Having lived in Colombo, Montreal & now a resident of the vibrant city of Toronto, Navz can transition seamlessly between Tamil, French & English. She uses the power of music to communicate and resonate with her audience.
Shortlisted for BBC Sound 2022 and supported by tastemaker airplay from Radio 1, BBC Asian Network, 1Xtra and 6 Music, Priya Ragu is poised to achieve a major breakthrough. The next step in her ascent comes with the blissful new single ‘Illuminous’, which elevates the joyous Raguwavy vibe that made her debut mixtape ‘damnshestamil’ so special.
Daiaphi Lamare aka Reble is a rapper from Meghalaya, India. Although originally from the West Jaintia Hills, her artistic aim has always been focused on representing the entirety of North-east India, through her work. Battling the adversities of her own personal struggles, she intends for her razor-sharp lyricism and unique flows to inspire those like herself to come forward and embrace their art, where opportunities may often seem lacking.
SIRI is a multilingual Bengaluru-based Rapper and Lyricist who is reinforcing the beauty of being part of a country that is home to a variety of different dialects with her flamboyant and party-friendly tunes. SIRI emerged not too long ago with a voice and a refreshing approach, making her stand out as an artist to watch out for in the Indian hip-hop scene.
Srushti Tawade, an Indian singer, rapper, writer, and satirist, made a remarkable appearance in an Indian hip-hop talent hunt reality show ‘MTV Hustle 2.0’ (2022) with her songs such as ‘Chill Kinda Guy’ and ‘Main Nahi Toh Koun'.
Trichia Grace-Ann Rebello
Releasing music as Trichia Rebello/Trichia Grace-Ann, the Mumbai-based Singer-songwriter, Rapper and pianist traverses the voice of a sullen, wronged lover in ‘Goldlust’ with as much panache as one of a self-assured party-ready woman in ‘Nachle’. While the former was among her first Independent releases, the latter was a collaboration with Vidya Vox and Shrey Jadhav as part of being selected for the music release series Bacardi Sessions.
Meba Ofilia might just be the breakthrough artist that Indian Hip-hop needed. Born and raised in Shillong, Meghalaya, her style is rooted in Hip-hop and R&B, and she started making waves in the Shillong Indie circuit around 2016. Her first single, 'Done Talking', made in collaboration with Khasi Bloodz Co-founder and veteran MC Big Ri, was a refreshing addition to the Hip-hop offerings that came out over the last year. 'Done Talking' showcased Ofilia’s incredible vocal talent and earned both Shillong natives the Best Indian Act award at the 2018 MTV European Music Awards.