New Zealand: Controversial American hip-hop group’s concert cancelled

15 November 2011


Promoters of the travelling ‘Big Day Out’ festival removed the American rap group Odd Future from the festival’s Auckland lineup due to objections from locals over the group’s homophobic lyrics.

Odd Future is a ten-member cult rap collective from Los Angeles, USA, aged between 16 and 20. The group’s full name is: Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All.

Lauded by critics and picking up a cult following across the globe, Odd Future are seen as the future of music by some, while others despise them for their homophobic and misogynistic lyrics which discuss sexual violence against women and include constant use of the word ‘faggot’.

Ahead of the event ‘2012 Big Day Out’ in January, Odd Future were taken off the Auckland line up due to some of their lyrics being homophobic. The Big Day Out is an annual music festival held in several cities in Australia and New Zealand in late January.

Resident and activist Calum Bennachie had penned a lengthy letter to the Auckland City Council, urging them to remove the group from the show which is to be held at Mt Smart Stadium, owned by Auckland Council.

Jamaican Beenie Man dropped
In his letter, Calum Bennachie referenced a similar November 2009 incident, where gay rights groups in New Zealand protested after controversial rapper Beenie Man was included in the second round of announcements for the 2010 tour. Groups such as cited controversial and homophobic lyrics from Beenie Man’s songs such as “I’m dreaming of a new Jamaica / Come to execute all the gays”.

The group called for Big Day Out organisers to drop Beenie Man from the line up “to send a message that homophobia is unacceptable,” and over 850 people joined a Facebook group to oppose his appearance.

On 15 November 2009, the festival’s Australian organisers issued a statement on their website, confirming that Beenie Man had indeed been dropped from the lineup. Beenie Man’s appearance at Big Day Out dates in Sydney, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth was also cancelled.

Whilst they acknowledged his commitment to the 2007 Reggae Compassionate Act and his promises to not perform the offending songs on his tour, they ultimately made the decision to drop Beenie Man because they felt his appearance would “be divisive amongst our audience members and would mar the enjoyment of the event for many.”

Excerpts from Calum Bennachie protest letter

“People like Beenie Man and groups like Odd Future that promote hatred and discrimination against groups encourage violence against those groups. If it is acceptable to say something similar to “Gays are a cancer on society that deserves to be eliminated?”, then what group would be next?Therefore, by allowing Odd Future to play at BDO, you are proving that you have little concern for the lives and welfare of LGBT people [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender], that you are willing to endanger their lives, and seek to encourage stigmatisation against them. I find this disappointing in an organisation that could do so much to enhance the self esteem of youth, reduce stigma, and discourage violence. Over the last year we have heard of a number of LGBT youth who have committed suicide due to bullying tactics that are endorsed by music that belittles LGBT people, such as that played by Odd Future.

Lyrics such as those played by Odd Future increase the societal discourse against LGBT people, a discourse that encourages bullying and violence.

Just as there are precedents for not allowing Beanie Man into New Zealand, I believe those same precedents apply in this case.

I therefore encourage you to reverse your decision to allow Odd Future to play at BDO, and thus prove that you do care about all members of society.”

Denies accusations
Leader of Odd Future, Tyler the Creator, has previously denied accusations his lyrics are homophobic.

“I’m not homophobic,” he told the magazine NME.

“I just think ‘faggot’ hits and hurts people. It hits. And ‘gay’ just means you’re stupid. I don’t know, we don’t think about it, we’re just kids. We don’t think about that shit. But I don’t hate gay people. I don’t want anyone to think I’m homophobic.”

Separate show for the group
Big Day Out promoter Ken West has said that he will be organising a separate headline show for Odd Future to play in Auckland and confirmed that the removal does not affect the Australian leg of the festival.

He told NME: “We are currently in discussions with Odd Future and will be announcing their own solo show for Auckland in the coming weeks. This does not affect Australia.”


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MTV – 5 November 2011:

‘Odd Future Banned From New Zealand Festival For Homophobic Lyrics’

New Zealand Herald – 4 November 2011:

‘Hip-hop group canned from BDO over homophobic lyrics’

NME – 4 November 2011:

‘Odd Future removed from New Zealand festival bill over ‘homophobic’ lyrics’ – 3 November 2011:

‘Odd Future’s Big Day Out invite revoked’ – 15 November 2009:

‘Big Day Out cancels anti-gay Beenie Man’

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