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If you go
What: God-Des and She at Fort Wayne Pride
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Headwaters Park
Cost: $5
Also: Fort Wayne Pride kicks off at 7 tonight with music by local bands and a performance by burlesque group Scarlet Fever. On Saturday, the first Fort Wayne Pride parade will step off at 11:30 a.m. at Headwaters Park. Festivities – including live music, drag performances, a beer tent, vendors and a kids’ area – are from noon to midnight Saturday. Cost is $3 today and $5 Saturday. Ages 14 and younger are free both days.
Courtesy photo
God-Des and She is one of the acts that will perform Saturday during Fort Wayne Pride.

Gay hip-hop duo bring voices to local fest

Group spreading message nationwide against bullying

God-des and She is a hip-hop duo on a mission.

As one of the few openly gay rap groups to make a dent in the mainstream market, the Austin, Texas-based outfit isn’t content to rest on their laurels or bury themselves in a recording studio for the next few years. Instead, the two have chosen to doggedly pursue a national fan base by way of a punishing year-round touring schedule.

“For a long time, (the GLBT) community was silent in the hip-hop world,” God-Des says. “It’s our job to bring a voice to the invisible. We don’t take that lightly, so we’re out there on the road most of the time.”

On Saturday night, God-Des and She will take the stage during Fort Wayne Pride at Headwaters Park, joining local bands, burlesque troupes and drag performers in a citywide celebration of diversity.

Since forming nearly a decade ago, God-Des and She has sold more than 40,000 albums, landed a guest spot on the Showtime drama “The L Word,” performed with pioneering rappers Slick Rick and Salt n’ Pepa and worked side-by-side with Public Enemy bassist Brian Hardgroove, who produced their album “Three.”

So, now that they have our attention, what do they have to say?

“A lot,” God-Des says. “How long do you have?”

God-Des and She – both Midwestern natives – are currently at work on their fourth album, which features a slew of cheeky, unpredictable lyrics (delivered by God-Des with percussive flow) and gospel-tinged vocals hooks. But the duo make it a point not to shy away from message tracks and heavy-hitting themes too, deftly tackling topics such as homophobia, bullying and teen suicide.

“I can’t tell you how many stories we’ve heard from fans on the road,” God-Des says. “Stories not just about bullying, but true hate crimes, in my opinion. We feel like it’s our obligation to write a song explaining how messed up things are and to not water down the message.”

The song “Never Give Up,” for instance, was inspired by the suicide of Canadian teenager Jamie Hubley, a victim of bullying. God-Des hopes the song both paints a realistic picture of the situation and empowers young victims of bullying to find strength.

“If you’re going through this, there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” God-Des says. “Find strength from somewhere and be OK with who you are.”

In addition to recording and touring, God-Des and She hope to begin working on a biographical documentary, which will detail both their rise to success and the rise in popularity of gay hip-hop in general. Although the duo have been making music together for nearly a decade, they are only now discovering other gay hip-hop groups that have been around for years, God-Des says.

“There is still so much out there to be discovered,” she says. “We want to show people that you can be two kids from the Midwest, be openly gay and still be successful in music.”