Tuesday, June 21, 2016

M.I.A. Says She's Dropped Out of Afropunk After Black Lives Matter Controversy

The inaugural Afropunk London Festival is going down on Sept. 24, but it seems like the event’s headliner has already pulled out.

Not too long after the date and lineup were revealed, people began to swarm the festival’s social media accounts expressing their frustration that M.I.A. would be taking the stage. Many even threatened a boycott if the event’s organizers did not cancel the 40-year-old artist, who has been faced with a wave of backlash since making controversial comments about the Black Lives Matter movement. And it seems the criticism has pushed M.I.A. to back out of the performance.

M.I.A. on the Black Lives Matter Movement: "Is Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar Going to Say Muslim Lives Matter?"

M.I.A. to Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar: ‘Are you going to say Muslim lives matter?'
Here’s a little background: During an interview with ES Magazine in April, the British hip-hop artist gave her thoughts on Beyoncé’s Super Bowl 50 halftime performance, as well as other artists who’ve been vocal about the instances of police brutality toward the black community. She called on those musicians to use their platform to bring attention to the difficulties facing other marginalised groups.

"It’s interesting that in America the problem you’re allowed to talk about is Black Lives Matter. It's not a new thing to me—it’s what Lauryn Hill was saying in the 1990s, or Public Enemy in the 1980s," M.I.A. told ES Magazine. "Is Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Matter? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this kid in Pakistan matters? That’s a more interesting question. You can't ask it on a song that’s on Apple, you cannot ask it on an American TV program, you cannot create that tag on Twitter, Michelle Obama is not going to hump you back."

Soon after the interview was published, M.I.A.’s comments were criticized for being anti-black and racist. She later attempted to clarify her words, insisting her critique was not about Beyoncé, but rather the activist platforms in America.

But people clearly didn’t accept her explanation. Since the Afropunk lineup was revealed, many people have come forth to express their frustration.

It now appears M.I.A. has heard the call for her cancelation, and has decided to not perform. She made the announcement via Twitter on Monday.

According to Pitchfork, a representative for M.I.A. says she is still confirmed to play the festival. Afropunk did not immediately respond to Complex’s request for comment.

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