Odd Future ban ironic for NZ

21:25, Feb 16 2014
Dave Dobbyn
DAVE DOBBYN: The Kiwi singer-songwriter blamed for sparking riots in Queen St.

It's ironic that Odd Future have been banned from visiting New Zealand.

Dave Dobbyn was accused (and later acquitted) of sparking the Queen Street riots but he's not banned from playing shows.

Odd Future were coming here as fill-in support act for Eminem's concert on Saturday but New Zealand immigration authorities have decided they ''pose a threat to public order''.

Dave Dobbyn
DAVE DOBBYN: The Kiwi singer-songwriter blamed, but later acquitted, for sparking riots in Queen St.

Presumably I've been asked to comment on this as I am a female music writer (count us in New Zealand, it won't take you long) and the hate-filled lyrics of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA) - inciting rape and gay bashing - have previously sparked outrage.

But it's not their lyrics immigration is worried about.


Odd Future
CONTROVERSIAL: Odd Future collective members Earl Sweatshirt (L), Taco Bennett (2nd L), Tyler, The Creator (R) and singer-songwriter M.I.A.

Border Operations Manager Karen Urwin told Fairfax that some people wrongly assumed authorities considered the group's lyrics when imposing the unique ban.

She said authorities decided to decline visas to six group members after becoming aware of a 2011 incident in Boston in which some witnesses claimed group members incited fans to attack police officers.

According to the Boston Globe, an officer suffered a back injury while trying to contain the crowd and was treated and released from hospital the night of the incident.

Another incident involved the group targeting a person on Twitter and inciting violence towards them.

Because, you know, to New Zealand immigration authorities lyrics inciting rape isn't violence.

Give me goddam strength.

In an official statement, Immigration New Zealand said: "Odd Future has been deemed to be a potential threat to public order and the public interest for several reasons, including incidents at past performances in which they have incited violence."

What message is New Zealand immigration sending?

That in New Zealand it's OK to perform songs about raping women but it's not OK to incite violence?

Dear New Zealand Immigration - care to explain the distinction?

Everyone is entitled to the right to free speech.

Aside from people in Christchurch, New Zealanders live in a democracy.

If OFWGKTA want to rap lyrics that make them appear to be mouth-breathing neanderthals that's their right.

If some Kiwis are happy to pay to hear them perform such songs then that's also their prerogative.

Last month Snoopzilla (formerly Snoop Dogg/Snoop Lion, real name Calvin Broadus) performed at Auckland's Big Day Out even though he has previously admitted selling women to entertainers and athletes during a 2003 tour: "I had a bus follow me with 10 bitches on it. I could fire a bitch, f . .. a bitch, get a new ho: it was my programme, " he reportedly said.

New Zealand Immigration had no problem with Snoop coming here.

Indie hip-hop collective Odd Future is known for their aggressive concerts and controversial image.

Tyler, the Creator is their most visible member.

This morning I've been re-visiting his second solo album, Goblin. Its minimalistic beats are tight and I enjoy the music but lyrically it's vile and socially-irresponsible.

Think old-school offensive Eminem.

If you paid $400 for a ticket to Eminem's concert then you knew what you were getting.

Maybe you wanted to see Kenrick Lamar, as I did, who pulled out of the concert recently ''due to an unavoidable scheduling conflict'' only to be replaced by OFWGKTA.

At the start of this blog I wrote that it was ''ironic'' that immigration has banned Odd Future.

I'll tell you why - I might even cook you some eggs while I'm doing it.

In terms of the way female musicians are treated in New Zealand, let's look a little closer to home before we start banning overseas artists.

Born in Christchurch, Maree Sheehan helped pave the way for women in the New Zealand music industry in the 1990s. She was also a key mentor for artists such as Nesian Mystik.

Her song Kia Tu Mahea featured on the soundtrack and on the international release of the iconic Kiwi film Once Were Warriors.

Last February she released her first album in a decade - Chasing the Light.

You probably haven't heard its songs on the radio.

Sheehan told me last year that a male radio programmer sneeringly told her she was ''too old'' and wouldn't consider listening to it, let alone playing it.

''No-one's saying that to Dave Dobbyn,'' she said.

The Bads' Dianne Swann, former star of When the Cats Away, has notched up over 20 years in the music industry. As one half of The Julie Dolphin in the early 1990s, six months into her career she found herself touring with Oasis, Green Day, riding the airwaves on Radio One in London and with a single of the week in NME.

The Julie Dolphin were selected by Radiohead to tour with them twice throughout Britain and Swann is the female silhouette playing keyboards in the video for Radiohead Live at the Astoria.

She also performed a duet with Tom Yorke on a song called How Can You Be Sure?, released on the Japanese version of the BENDS and on the B side of Fake Plastic Trees.

Swann has seen the best and worst of the industry and last year told me that she is cynical about what she terms "musical ageism" in New Zealand music.

''Sometimes, I wonder if there is ageism going on here,'' she told me last year. ''Name five Kiwi women over 40 whose music is on the radio. Overseas artists are allowed to keep going as long as they sound good.''

And let's remember, the only way a female MC could possibly get onto a radio station's compilation album is by sleeping with someone at the station.

MC Tali was discovered by British record producer Roni Size and moved to the UK in 2001. Her song Lyric On My Lip made the UK top 40, she won best female drum and bass MC three times and spent years performing around the world.

She return to New Zealand and George FM released an album last year which contained her music.

One review read: ''we have to assume, given her Bonus Beats here where she gives a painful plug to George FM that she's screwing someone at the station.''

And let's not forget Lorde, you know the Grammy-Award winning teen who speaks her mind.

Yes, the hype around her was over the top, but did this young woman deserve to be described thus by one critic: ''This 16 year old is still being sexualised in the selling of her music - it's just to dudes that w*** over Farmers' lingerie catalogues rather than being honest and hiring porn.''

Remember Kiwi rapper Derty Sesh's video for Forever?

Two versions of the video were made, with the extended online version showing Derty Sesh crouching over a bound woman before stabbing her and cutting out her organs.

It also featured shots of mutilated women's bodies and the rapper stalking a couple in a park.

One version of the video was funded by Government funding body, New Zealand On Air, presumably so you can really see more of New Zealand on air.

The television version ended with a woman screaming as the hooded rapper appeared, whereas the online version depicted him assaulting her.

In the name of free speech Odd Future should be allowed to come and perform in New Zealand.

The ban is particularly ironic as Earl Sweatshirt, the youngest member of Odd Future, performed in New Zealand just last month, most recently in Wellington - a side show of the St Jerome's Laneway Festival

Before New Zealand authorities wave the prudist ''tut tut'' finger at overseas musicians and bans them for threatening violence, perhaps it's time to take a closer look a our own backyard.

The Press