Action Bronson may be considered controversial to a group of Torontonians, however the Mr. Wonderful rapper is still scheduled to perform at the North by Northeast Festivals and Conference (NXNE) in downtown T.O. next month.

Over 5,000 people have signed a Change.org petition urging NXNE to remove Bronson from the festival’s line-up. The petition states that NXNE, its sponsors and the city of Toronto are “turning a blind eye to rape culture and violence against women.” It uses Bronson’s song “Consensual Rape” and the music video for “Brunch” as the basis of its argument.

Yesterday, NXNE responded to the petition with a statement via its website.

“Action Bronson performed at Yonge-Dundas Square as part of NXNE in 2012 with Killer Mike, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah. It was a positive concert that was described by reviewers as ‘laid back’, ‘a lot of fun’ and a ‘world class hip-hop showcase'” the statement reads.

NXNE also mentions that Tink and Kate Tempest – two female artists who have addressed feminist viewpoints in their music – will be performing at the event.

“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,” NXNE states. “Those who are offended by an artist are invited to check out other Festival showcases, some may be considered controversial, but most are just plain fun.”

Bronson has taken to Twitter to share his thoughts on the matter, as well.

“It’s so funny the song that is causing these Torontonians to have their panties in a bunch literally has never been performed, ever,” he wrote via Twitter. “5 years ago a lost track. That’s what u base UR argument on? HOW ABOUT THE 9 PROJECTS THAT HAVE COME OUT SINCE? Don’t single me out.”

NXNE takes place Sunday, June 21 at Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto.

Read NXNE’s full statement below:

On Tuesday, May 26 a group of concerned Torontonians created a petition to remove Action Bronson from NXNE’s lineup on Sunday, June 21 at Yonge-Dundas Square. The petition has spawned a passionate online discussion. The Festival would like to address this topic.

Action Bronson performed at Yonge-Dundas Square as part of NXNE in 2012 with Killer Mike, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah. It was a positive concert that was described by reviewers as “laid back”, “a lot of fun” and a “world class hip-hop showcase”. NXNE is confident the lineup on June 21 at Yonge-Dundas Square will make for another enjoyable day of music in a public space.

“NXNE will also present a number of rap artists at various venues, such as Tink and Kate Tempest, who have be lauded for the undisguised feminist viewpoints in their music.” says Sara Peel, Managing Director of NXNE. ” “That being said, in the interest of moving forward in a positive manner, we are engaging in discussion with our community about this important issue, and looking to provide opportunities for concerned voices to be heard.”

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. 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.

(May 28, 2015) 

UPDATE: Due to an overwhelming amount of outcry over Action Bronson performing at this year’s Northby Northeast (NXNE) festival in Toronto, the organization has removed Bronson from the lineup.

The news arrives just two days after NXNE released a statement saying they would stand behind the Queens-rapper, who performed at their festival in 2012. Though NXNE has invited Bronson to perform at a separate show, it’s not confirmed whether or not Bronson will agree to do it.

NXNE released the following statement regarding the matter:

We at Northby Northeast (NXNE) are very proud of our 20 plus years relationship with the people of the City of Toronto. And for almost 10 years we’ve shared Yonge-Dundas Square with you to present free, all ages shows open to the public. YDS is the city’s space and as such we are obliged to listen to how the city and community want it used. A significant number of Torontonians have indicated their desire to have Action Bronson not perform at the Square. As annual guests in this space we feel we must accede to the strong wishes of the community and honour their input.

As a result, we will not be presenting Action Bronson at Yonge-Dundas Square but, hopefully we will still be presenting Action Bronson as part of Northby. We remain fundamentally committed to presenting this artist on a Toronto stage. We are not moving the Action show because we believe in censoring him or any other artists. In fact, we find the limiting of artistic expression distasteful. When artistic expression is limited, freedom and the evolution of ideas is often the casualty.

Hopefully, Action Bronson will accept our invitation to play at another, ticketed venue in the city so the public can decide for themselves if his work has merit. We booked Bronson, in part, because of his latest excellent disc, Mr. Wonderful.

We hope that this series of events does not foster some type of artistic chill in Toronto and its public spaces. Yonge-Dundas Square must remain a dynamic place where many viewpoints are expressed not just culturally but also at political events and rallies staged there.

We are heartened by the community engagement that has been taking place around this YDS show. This debate continues an important conversation about violence against women and its depiction in art and culture that is long overdue. We salute all of those who fight this battle and we would encourage everyone who has signed the petition or been engaged by this conversation to commit themselves personally to continuing the fight against violence against women. We at Northby pledge to continue being part of this discussion with the intent to help act as agents of change.

Sincerely,
The Directors of North by Northeast

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