30 Dec 2022

'We didn't agree to that' - Artists caught off guard by convicted rapper's presence at R&V

7:45 am on 30 December 2022
British rapper Dizzee Rascal in 2020.

British rapper Dizzee Rascal in 2020. Photo: Tolga Akmen

An artist performing at Rhythm and Vines says most local artists were blindsided by Dizzee Rascal's presence in the music festival's line-up.

While festival sponsor Vodafone will be removing all its branding from the stage during his performance, tickets for the Gisborne festival, which usually sells out, are still up for grabs after a backlash over the rapper's appearance.

Earlier this year, the Dizzee Rascal was given a 12-month restraining order for assaulting his ex-partner.

An artist performing in the festival, who RNZ has agreed not to name, said artists were not informed of Dizzee's attendance in advance.

"When the whole line-up got announced with us on it, that's when we saw who else was in the line-up."

It sounded like the organisers did know about it [Dizzee Rascal's convictions] when they booked him, she said.

"That was kinda shitty.

"You feel weird promoting yourself on the line-up because we didn't agree to that."

She said most artists performing on the festival were afraid of being "blacklisted" if they decided to speak up about the presence of the rapper in the line-up.

Local artists worked hard to get the space to perform and needed the money to survive, she said.

"I think specially if you are starting out and you are not an artist with a huge platform of following you don't see other artists with that massive following being vocal about this stuff, then what's the point of us saying anything."

Vocal artists would appear as if they wanted to cause trouble, she said.

Musician Lydia Cole said numbers of women and non-binary people did not engage in the local music business because of dangerous men.

"They repel us out of rooms, off stages, away from studios, because we can't deal with their shit, and they refuse to own it."

"You can't shut us up anymore," she said on her social media.

"And your awards, your humanitarian affiliations, your money, your positive PR, your accolades, your damage control, they are meaningless."

In a public social media post, the advocacy group Beneath the Glass Ceiling said no one should have to fear losing their career for speaking up with their concerns.

"We also want to highlight the difficult position they [the organisers] put other artists and the staff behind the scenes in.

"Those who are upset they are sharing the stage with a perpetrator but unable to speak up for fear of losing their spot and/or their livelihood," the post said.

Dizzee Rascal is also expected to perform at Golden Lights and Golden Rush, festivals hosted in Waihi, Auckland and Christchurch.

This week, several artists were dropped from the festivals' line-ups.

Through a statement, the organisers of Golden Lights and Golden Rush said due to production limitations, the smaller dance stage had been removed.

"Therefore, we have had to revise the Gold Rush and Golden Lights festival lineup which has led to the removal of some acts, with all acts paid their full performance fees regardless."

It said there was a mix of male, female and duo acts affected by the move.

"He met the visa requirements", INZ

Advocate groups have been asking Immigration New Zealand how the rapper was allowed to come to the country while facing charges.

Through a statement, Immigration New Zealand said Dizzee Rascal met the requirements to be granted a visa to the country.

It said Dylan Kwabena Mills, the rapper's real name, applied for a visitor visa on 19 December.

Immigration New Zealand said the rapper provided all the relevant information required to his application, including information about his convictions.

Dizzee Rascal was granted a visitor visa three days after his application, on the 22 December.

  • Rhythm and Vines: Mixed views on Vodafone decision over Dizzee Rascal performance
  • Rhythm and Vines: Vodafone to remove branding during Dizzee Rascal's performance
  • Rhythm & Vines face backlash over decision to keep convicted rapper Dizzee Rascal in line-up