TORONTO — Music festival NXNE has axed plans to stage a free Action Bronson concert at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square (YDS).
“YDS is the city’s space and as such we are obliged to listen to how the city and community want it used,” read a statement from NXNE.
“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.”
A petition launched earlier this week called out some of the rapper’s lyrics, saying they were misogynistic, violent and constitute hate speech.
In a 2011 song titled “Consensual Rape,” Bronson raps about drugging a woman to have oral, vaginal and anal sex with several men.
Bronson also raps that he will “burn her with a candle.”
The same track includes a threat to “rip your t**s off.”
At first NXNE organizers stood firm, saying they would not cancel the show. A debate raged online, and Toronto Mayor John Tory said while he doesn’t believe he should judge art, he “personally feel this kind of language is unacceptable.”
The NXNE statement goes on to defend the cancellation against being labelled as censorship by the music festival.
“We find the limiting of artistic expression distasteful. When artistic expression is limited, freedom and the evolution of ideas is often the casualty.”
Bronson responded on Twitter with several expletive-filled messages. “IF U HATE ME U HATE PUPPIES,” he tweeted.
While the free concert has been cancelled, NXNE has asked Bronson to perform at another, ticketed event.
The petition had more than 37,000 supporters at the time of the cancellation’s announcement.
– with files from John R. Kennedy / Global News.