Canadian rapper Belly fires back after city apologizes for ‘inappropriate content’
Rachael D'Amore and Codi Wilson, CTV News Toronto
Published Tuesday, July 4, 2017 8:41AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 4, 2017 7:28PM EDT
Canadian rapper Belly has some choice words for audience members who expressed concern about his use of colourful language during yesterday’s final Canada Day performance at Nathan Phillips Square.
Last night, the Ottawa-raised artist performed the uncensored version of his songs, prompting the city to apologize the next morning for the “inappropriate content.”
“The #CityofTO apologizes for the inappropriate content during tonight's closing performance at Nathan Phillips Square,” the city's tweet read.
In an email to CP24, Lee Thureson said spectators were shocked at the repeated use of profanities during Belly’s performance, which was attended by children and teenagers.
Thureson told CP24 on Tuesday morning that “every other word” in the performance involved profanity and some lyrics made reference to “drug culture.”
“I have an 11-year-old who I’m trying to mentor to be an upstanding citizen. I was just outraged that the programming could allow that kind of protocol, that there isn’t some kind of censorship to what’s allowed and what isn’t allowed on such a major family event,” she said.
“I was standing with other mothers and we were all commenting.”
In a series of now-deleted tweets, Belly fired back.
“If you had your kids out at midnight and you’re mad I was swearing last night, let me kindly remind you to s*** my d***. Oh & f*** you too [sic],” Belly said in the tweet.
that's the beauty of living somewhere with REAL freedoms— BELLY (@reBELLYus) July 4, 2017
He went on to suggest that organizers of the Canada Day festivities outside City Hall were aware that he would use the language during the show.
"Organizers were made aware that I would be swearing during my show before I even flew in to Toronto.. must be a slow news day," Belly said in a since deleted tweet.
"F*** sensorhip forever," he said in a separate tweet.
Meanwhile, city spokesperson Wynna Brown said Belly’s language during the show came as a “terrible surprise” and was “extremely disappointing.”
“We do sincerely apologize to all our families and audiences that were in attendance at the event last nigiht. We do have a history of working with a whole range of diverse musical genres and the fact that this happened is not acceptable,” Brown told CP24.
“Our content is G-rated, it's intended for families and our artists know that coming into this kind of venue – it is a public venue – and we’re extremely disappointed with what happened.”
Brown said artists who perform at Nathan Phillips Square are informed of the type of audience they’ll be performing for before they agree to the show.
She said the city will follow up with Belly’s management and hope he’ll issue a public apology.
Consequences for the language, including contractual violations, are also not out of the question.
“Our expectation is that our performers know this in advance. It’s the expectation that our content is intended for family audiences. That’s our history too – we had 1,000 performers participating at 12 stages at over 130 different events that took place across the weekend this Canada Day,” Brown said.
“This was the only incident of this kind and we’re extremely sorry that it happened.”
Toronto rapper Drake stunned a packed crowd outside Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday night, making an unannounced appearance along with fellow OVO Sound label artists dvsn, Roy Woods and Majid Jordan.
Some of Saturday’s performers are known to have explicit language in their lyrics, but most made more of an effort to dodge blatant cursing.
Mayor John Tory did not address the performance while speaking to reporters ahead of Tuesday's council meeting.
Tory said the city’s Canada Day events were “well-attended” and “well-supported” by Torontonians.
“I just wanted to acknowledge through Councillor Thompson and the Economic Development staff and a lot of the Parks, Forestry and Recreational staff were involved, and they did a superb job,” Tory said.
“I think the people would have said the expenditure of our resources on that was something that they liked because I think they seemed to be having a very good time.”
Some spectators took to Twitter to voice concern over the city's choice of artist:
Who are these idiots performing at Nathan Phillips Square. Keep the f-bombs for when there aren't 100s of kids here... @TorontoComms— MizzyTizzy (@mizzytizzy) July 4, 2017
Totally agree quite disgusted at the language when it's a family event— clare butter (@ButterClare) July 4, 2017
It's a family event, the city should have known better— tina pulciani (@tina_pulciani) July 4, 2017
Others, meanwhile, didn't seem phased by the content:
If you can't handle 'strong language' at a live performance of music I think you need to say home and stay away from people— ........ (@kidwithagopro) July 4, 2017