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Calls Begin to Remove Convicted Abuser Dizzee Rascal From Rhythm and Vines

An Aotearoa advocacy group has called for Rhythm and Vines to remove convicted domestic abuser Dizzee Rascal from this year’s line-up.

Dizzee Rascal.

Beneath the Glass Ceiling, an advocacy group that exists to highlight cases of abuse, posted an open letter on their Instagram yesterday asking Rhythm and Vines to reverse their recent decision to book convicted rapper Dizzee Rascal for this year’s festival.

Dizzee Rascal was convicted of assaulting his former fiancé in front of their children in March this year. The judge observed upon sentencing that Rascal had shown “no remorse.”  

Last week, on November 22, Rhythm and Vines announced the rapper as one of its headliners. At the time, Rhythm and Vines co-founder Hamish Pinkham told Stuff that Rascal’s criminal record was a “red flag” that did not affect their decision, expounding in rhyme: “‘He’s done the crime, he’s done the time, now it’s time to do the grime”.

While the Rhythm and Vines team issued an anonymous apology from a spokesperson three days later calling the comment inappropriate, Beneath the Glass Ceiling’s open letter argued that deflects from the festival organisers’ decision to give a convicted individual who has not shown remorse for their actions not only money but a platform via their stage.

“By choosing to platform a perpetrator of domestic violence, you are telling our country, particularly our rangatahi, that domestic violence is not a big deal,” the open letter says.

The statement from Rhythm and Vines said that the festival “does not condone status of any kind”, but a spokesperson for Beneath the Glass ceiling added that an apology without action was performative.

“Festivals both here and internationally are notorious for showcasing artists, particularly men, with violent backgrounds all while putting on performative displays to show they care about safety.”

The apology appeared in the New Zealand Herald but not was posted on any of Rhythm and Vines’ social media channels.

Operating since 2003, Rhythm and Vines draws a crowd of more than 20,000 to the Gisborne area for three days over the New Year period. Aotearoa is ranked as having the worst domestic violence rate of any country in the developed world, with 33% of women experiencing domestic violence. New Zealand police respond to a domestic violence call on average once every four minutes.

Rhythm and Vines was awarded Best Music Event at the New Zealand Event Association Event Awards in July.

The open letter, which was also signed by Women’s Refuge, She Is Not Your Rehab, SoundCheck Aotearoa, and HELP, is asking for Rhythm and Vines to establish a “zero tolerance precedent” and remove Dizzee Rascal from the line-up.

“You have the ability to set a hardline and to say no to perpetrators of violence; it is in your power to help us set a precedent for a safer industry.”

Rolling Stone AU/NZ have reached out to Rhythm and Vines, The New Zealand Event Association, and the festivals’ sponsors to comment on the open letter 24 hours before going to press but had not received a response at the time of publication. Rhythm and Vines is sponsored by Vodafone, Pals, Red Bull, GH Mumm Champagne, genoapay, Hallenstein Brothers, Headline Acts, Crocs, Steinlager, Zeffer, and Jameson.