Action Bronson, a Queens rapper who’s found great popularity in the underground and released a major-label album in March, is being protested by a Toronto woman citing his “violent misogyny” and “history of recording music that brags about gang-raping and murdering women.”
The petition was started by Erica Shiner on Change.org, and is meant to get the rapper kicked off the bill at NXNE, a local music festival. In it, Shiner refers to a 2011 song called “Consensual Rape” (ugh; also: not a thing) and a 2011 video for the song “Brunch,” which depicts Bronson as he “cooks a meal over a woman’s dead body, rolls her up in a carpet, throws her in his trunk, and proceeds to violently stab her when he discovers she’s still alive,” she writes.
I have generally stayed away from Action Bronson’s music, not just because he often sounds like a half-baked Ghostface Killah but also because of his history of transphobic attacks. And I had never seen the “Brunch” video until today. But, I listen to enough rap that I have a pretty moderate tolerance for light-to-regular misogyny in lyrics, to my personal chagrin—and, despite the vile song title “Consensual Rape,” I think some (not all) of the lyrics Shiner cites in her petition are up for artistic interpretation. (The line “I geeked her up on molly” is not as clear-cut, for instance, as Rick Ross’s “Put molly all in her champagne/She ain’t even know it.” There is still the possibility that Bronson meant he gave the woman molly, rather than dosed her with it, though in the context of a song called “Consensual Rape” which, again, is Not a Real Thing, he does not deserve our benefit of the doubt.)
But the “Brunch” video is far, far beyond your average garden-variety musical misogyny. Bronson does exactly what Shiner describes, but she also left out the part where he calls the woman “stupid cunt” and “scumbag bitch” before he stabs her, pulls out some of her hair and then spits on her. The petition, which at press time had 2500 signers, also posted the cover of Bronson’s 2013 EP Saab Stories, depicting the rapper, who is white, standing over two East Asian women in their underwear, one of whom is bent over a toilet and looks distressed.
“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.”
And part of it was just deeply stupid and tone-deaf:
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.
Invoking “just plain fun!” when addressing women’s concerns about an artist who depicts himself violently murdering a woman and makes light of rape is one of the worst things they could have said—a tacit dismissal. Of course NXNE is not going to drop Bronson from the line-up—there’s too much money involved with these things, and just about the only times I can remember petitions and protest working were Spelman’s Nelly “Tip Drill” protest, and New Zealand’s ban on Odd Future. But at the very least, Shiner’s petition brought to light the egregiously misogynist nature of a rapper who is often painted as just another jovial, fun-loving, wacky former chef who likes to crowd surf.
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