Toronto Divided Over Action Bronson Headlining NXNE
A petition calling on the organizers of Toronto’s NXNE festival to cut American rapper Action Bronson from this year’s list of performers at Yonge and Dundas Square now has over 22,000 signatures.
Self-proclaimed fans of Bronson are already voicing their frustrations.
“The grounds for the cancelling of Bronson’s performance are unreasonable and simply a ridiculous reason for cancelling the show,” writes Matt Wilson of Barrie, Ontario on ‘an anti-petition,’ titled Stop Feminist Extremists from Censoring Action Bronson’s Free Speech and his Performance at NXNE. “One song from 2011, ignoring his [nine] projects he’s put out since that time, which have no mention of this subject matter.”
“It starts to take away from fans looking forward to a free show, especially for people who can’t afford tickets. People who wouldn’t be affected by this concert are trying to take it away.” – Sasha Balazic, Action Bronson fan
“I don’t have anything against feminism, but when it starts to oppress the artistry and expression of a rapper like Action Bronson, that’s where it tends to grind my gears,” Sasha Balazic of Markham, Ontario, a self-proclaimed fan of Action Bronson, told Urbanology Magazine. Balazic was the first of several to comment on the anti-petition.
“It starts to take away from fans looking forward to a free show, especially for people who can’t afford tickets. People who wouldn’t be affected by this concert are trying to take it away,” he added.
Action Bronson is currently scheduled to headline the final day of NXNE with a free, all-ages concert on Sunday, June 21 at the outdoor venue on public property. This would be his second time doing so, as he performed at NXNE in 2012 alongside Ghostface Killah, Raekwon and Killer Mike at Yonge and Dundas Square.
“We are petitioning to have this artist removed from the line-up of this show, on the grounds that he produces hate speech.” – Erica Shiner, Toronto resident who started online petition
The initial petition, which was started Tuesday on change.org by Toronto resident Erica Shiner, stated that some of Bronson’s lyrical content “glorifies gang-raping women” and noted lyrics from the 2011 Action Bronson song “Consensual Rape”, calling the words “hate speech”.
Shiner also posted a letter online condemning the performance, which she is said to have sent to The City of Toronto, the organizers of NXNE, event directors at Now Magazine, event sponsor Vans Footwear and Mayor John Tory.
Shiner had initially agreed to an interview with Urbanology Magazine, but ended up being unavailable to comment.
“We are petitioning to have this artist removed from the line-up of this show, on the grounds that he produces hate speech. A musician who glorifies rape and violence against women should not be invited to perform at a public space in our city,” wrote Shiner, in the petition.
“Violent misogyny has no place in our shared public space,” wrote Stephanie Guthrie, another Toronto resident who signed the petition.
“Those who are offended by an artist are invited to check out other festival showcases, as NXNE will present hundreds of artists this June – some may be considered controversial, but most are just plain fun.” – NXNE Official Statement
Action Bronson had responded to the Canadian concert controversy on Wednesday with a string of tweets. One tweet read that he had been “banned from performing at NXNE,” though that tweet was later deleted.
“HAHAHAHA I THOUGHT THEY LOVED ME IN TORONTO!!! I CANT WAIT TO COME!!! ILL SEE AT NXNE,” said a post on his Twitter account. He too was unavailable to comment.
In response to Shiner’s petition, NXNE released an official statement that said, “NXNE believes each and every one of these artists have the right to express their views through music, but those views belong to them and them alone.”
As for festivalgoers, the statement went on: “Those who are offended by an artist are invited to check out other festival showcases, as NXNE will present hundreds of artists this June – some may be considered controversial, but most are just plain fun.”
It’s unknown if the petition will affect Action Bronson’s performance, which a NXNE media representative confirmed is still on the bill. Other acts scheduled to play at this year’s NXNE Dundas Square venue include Casey Veggies and Ty Dolla $ign.
Action Bronson is also scheduled to perform at Montreal’s Osheaga Festival on July 31.
Photo By. Isa Ransome (Urbanology Magazine Archives 2013)