Rhymesayers drops Prof and Dem Atlas Amid Accusations of Sexual Assault and Misogyny
Minneapolis’ Rhymesayers Entertainment (home of Atmosphere, Brother Ali, & Sa-Roc) ended their working relationship with two artists on their roster: rappers Prof and Dem Atlas. Both rappers, along with a number of their associates, have recently been accused of sexual misconduct on social media. In an official statement posted June 25th, Rhymesayers explained their move, stating that “abuse of women…is not in alignment with our values.”
In the past week, numerous Twin Cities netizens have come forward to allege rape, physical assault, sexual assault, intimidation, and more, at the hands of men in the local music scene. In many cases, these accusations have pointed toward local hip hop. Artists such as Prof, Dem Atlas, DJ Fundo, and others, have been implicated. Rhymesayers, as de facto godfathers of Minnesota hip hop, sit squarely at the center of the controversy. Some accusers shared photographs of injuries sustained. Others posted screenshots of text conversations they feel demonstrate insensitivity and complicity on the part of higher status members of the scene.
Allegations against Prof and Dem Atlas
A post from artist DJ Babyghost (Casey Delgado) accusing Prof’s former associate DJ Fundo of “abusive” and “predatory” behavior seems to have sparked the movement, which has grown rapidly this past week. Since then, several of Prof’s old tweets have surfaced. Some joke about rape, sex with underaged girls, and violence against women. Critics argue that these tweets demonstrate the scene’s toxicity. Prof (real name Jacob Anderson) was set to release his 7th album, “Powderhorn Suites,” in June of this year. The album page has been removed from Rhymesayers’ website, and the Bandcamp page no longer exists.
Social media users have also accused Rapper Dem Atlas (real name Josh Turner) of sexual assault and violence. A young woman who stated she was Turner’s former girlfriend posted an image of herself in a hospital bed with a cast over her arm. “You knew this happened to me within hours of it happening,” she wrote, in response to Rhymesayers’ official apology.”2 years late is better than never, I guess.” Her disappointment was echoed by other Twitter users.
In addition to announcing the end of their working relationship with Prof and Dem Atlas, Rhymesayers claimed their company stands in opposition to sexism and racism, and pledged to improve their standards in vetting artists and employees. In part, the statement reads: “To abusers, racists, and those engaged in predatory behavior, we don’t want you as artists, fans or affiliates and as we become aware of you, you will be held accountable. We also need to hold ourselves accountable for writing off what we interpreted as an artist’s approach to humor and entertainment, when it actually harmed survivors and perpetuated an environment rife with misogyny. We apologize for the harm this has caused. We understand that we have a responsibility to be more intentional with our actions and our platform moving forward.”
The full statement from Rhymesayers Entertainment can be read here:
However, for some fans and artists, the label’s apologies and promises ring hollow. In particular, the second sentence of the statement has drawn skepticism. The claim that Rhymesayers staff were never aware of abuse, nor did they ever “tacitly condone” it, has been disputed. Some posters described an environment around Rhymesayers in which sexual assault and misconduct were ignored or excused. Among numerous allegations, one woman spoke of being raped by an associate of a rap group in the label’s close orbit. Another described an artist who physically dragged her from a club, and pushed her into a taxicab with enough force to leave bruises.
A #MeToo Moment for Hip Hop?
Just last month, the killing of George Floyd made Minneapolis an international flashpoint for a discussion about racism and police brutality. Now it appears that Minneapolis hip hop is experiencing a moral reckoning as well, this time about sexual assault and misogyny. A Minnesota Public Radio article has suggested this may be Minneapolis music’s #MeToo moment. The long term effect this reckoning will have on Minnesota, the US, hip hop, and the wider world, remains to be seen.