Women challenge gender categories for hip-hop awards

THE first South African Hip-Hop Awards that are to be held at the Alexander Theatre in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, next week, have already stirred up controversy.

With categories such as Kings of Hip-Hop, which honours leading performers from the nine provinces, some artists are questioning the wisdom of having gender-based categorisation.

Despite the provincial nine "kings", only one category is dedicated to female emcees. On the other hand, out of the five contesting woman, only Lexicon and Kanyi Mavi were put up against their male counterparts.

Lexicon has been in the hip-hop genre for nearly eight years now and is not too happy about the categories.

"According to the organisers, research was carried out and the findings suggested that there are more male rappers in the industry. And so it was seen fit for men to be given that much recognition," she said. Fortune Museue, manager of Ice Queen, one of the nominees, said it was about time female rappers were recognised: "Women are very hesitant to get into the hip-hop industry because every time they try to get a deal, they get screwed over."

Lexicon's mixtape, titled Sketches In My Mind, with hits such as Power to the Third and Punk Tuition, has been nominated for the Mixtape of the Year. Lexicon is also one of the ladies competing for the Best Female Award.

"Fair enough, the ladies in the industry have to learn to market themselves better, and since this is the first awards of its kind, I hope to see more ladies in the running in years to come," she said.

Durbanite, has opened for international stars like Mos Def in 2009 and has shared the stage with Lauryn Hill during the launch of her album Intombi Zifikile in April this year.