British rapper Slowthai apologised to his fans after he appeared on stage wearing a T-shirt that was emblazoned with a Nazi swastika in an attempt to condemn fascism. The Northampton-born rapper, real name Tyron Frampton was performing at the music festival Osheaga in Montreal, Canada, last Sunday when the controversy happened.
An obviously deplorable use of the Nazi symbol by slowthai at Osheaga in Montreal.
He's previously displayed a severed head of …. Boris Johnson in concert so will be interesting to see how much the woke left will talk about this. pic.twitter.com/9VbTmG8a95
— Jeff Joseph (@MisterDoubleJ) August 1, 2022
The musician walked on stage wearing a white T-shirt saying “DESTROY” with a large swastika in a red circle below. The shirt was inspired by a shirt designed by Vivienne Westwood and infamously worn by The Sex Pistols.
whether or not the outfit choice was a great idea is a different story but Vivienne Westwood has a series of antifascist designs including the one worn by Slowthai that are anything but new pic.twitter.com/9kAtQ9UxkT — matty (@mattyjones_x) August 1, 2022
Slowthai has since said that the shirt was meant to be anti-fascist and released the following statement on Twitter in response to the backlash: “i’m sorry to anyone who is offended by me wearing an anti-fascist / anti-regime t-shirt and the use of the symbol it represents. i want you to know i stand firmly against antisemitism and fascism of any kind, something the t-shirt was meant to illustrate with the word “destroy” above the symbol.” Despite his apology the stunt has left festival-goers baffled and angered.
— TYRON (@slowthai) August 1, 2022
Osheaga also weighed in earlier in the day in a statement saying, “a performer appeared on stage Saturday wearing a controversial t-shirt displaying a swastika that caused confusion. The t-shirt denounces the regime. We sincerely apologize to anyone who may have misinterpreted this message and felt hurt.”
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre For Holocaust Studies, an organisation that aims to stamp out anti-semitism was unimpressed with the festival’s response, tweeting, “While @slowthai’s intent at @osheaga may have been to denounce Nazism, the message was very badly executed. This ambiguous display of the swastika was frightening for Jews and others and should never have made it to the stage“.
While @slowthai’s intent at @osheaga may have been to denounce Nazism, the message was very badly executed. This ambiguous display of the swastika was frightening for Jews and others and should never have made it to the stage. pic.twitter.com/WGp8RwkvRy
— Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (@CanadianFSWC) July 31, 2022
This is not the first time Slowthai has courted controversy back in September 2020, he was accused of making lewd comments toward comedian Katherine Ryan while on stage at the NME awards, asking her to “smell my cologne”, and : “If you want to do something, see me later. She wants me to tend to her flowers”.
TW: sexual harassment
This video of Slowthai sexually harassing Katherine Ryan at the NME awards is awful. So, so gross. Women shouldn’t have to endure this as part of their jobs. I know his persona is shithouser but there’s a line and he fully crossed it pic.twitter.com/E0lALuF6Ja
— Moya Lothian-McLean (@mlothianmclean) February 12, 2020
The rapper talked to Noisey about the incident, “I didn’t see it as being toxic, but when I watched those clips back, I was like, I can understand why people feel this way and I can understand where I was wrong”. He continued, “People are so quick to point the finger and kill ya, but if you live in fear of what everyone thinks, you’ll never do anything all your life… I can sit and wallow or I can take my lessons and learn from it and become a better person”.
Ryan talked to NME about the award show saying, “When that happened, I thought: ‘We can have some fun with this.’ As far as I’m concerned, that’s all it was – fun in the room. We were both evenly matched and doing a pantomime.” She continued, “Because I’m vehemently against ‘cancel culture’ in most cases. We’re always looking to ruin someone’s career. To take the context and nuance out of the situation didn’t make sense to me”.