The last issue of the Reykjavík Grapevine was met with some harsh criticism. People on social media raised some good points, objecting to the fact that there were no women in Grapevine’s cover story on Iceland’s newest hip-hop artists. Later, some members of the hip-hop community echoed these concerns.
It is obvious that hip-hop in Iceland has a grave problem. Grapevine mapped out the frontline of hip-hop in the last issue, with the feature focusing on the youngest talents in the industry, and found out that there was not one girl amongst these young boys. This is not Grapevine’s doing: we do not manufacture young artists, and one cover is not the root of the gender imbalance in hip-hop nor the music business in general, although it might be part of the problem. The Reykjavík Grapevine did not address this issue in the article, because it was a culture feature about young artists, not gender politics.
It does not take long to realise that girls are not allowed into this little boys’ club. If you just look at the Icelandic rap scene, you quickly see that artists like Úlfur Úlfur, Emmsjé Gauti and others are the most popular acts in the country today. They have great power in the industry and a direct line to listeners. All of them have often invited young artists to make some music with them. Our young cover star, Aron Can, has made a song with Emmsjé Gauti. Herra Hnetusmjör and Gísli Pálmi have made one with Úlfur Úlfur. But how many female hip-hop artists have they made songs with? None.
It’s understandable that the industry blames the media instead of facing the hard truth. It’s easier. But we at the Reykjavík Grapevine are far too concerned about the future of hip-hop. We will not merely sit on the sidelines in this one and make excuses for ourselves, because we are feminists. The industry needs to check themselves before they wreck themselves. They got 99 problems and they don’t even have girls to bitch about.
That’s why we have rented the conference room at Kex Hostel to have a symposium about the issue. We have invited some of the most vocal artists to talk about this problem and how to change it. The symposium will be held next Monday, the 17th of July at 20:00. The director of Kítón, the music association of women in Iceland, and Vigdís Howser of RKVDTR will be speakers, amongst others. We sincerely hope that members of the music scene industry will be in the audience as well, because we have a lot to talk about. So if you are serious about the issue of gender imbalance in hip-hop and want to do something about it, be there. The meeting will be in Icelandic, and the Reykjavík Grapevine will of course report back in our next issue.