Vic Mensa recently saw the Twitter account of a music venue tweet something racist, and in response he did what many artists say they would do but few actually carry through on: he cancelled his show.
The Roc Nation MC was scheduled to perform at Detroit area venue Populux on Wednesday, July 27. But on July 7, the Twitter account for the venue, formerly @PopuluxDetroit (the account has since been deleted), sent out incendiary messages revolving around the Dallas shooting of 11 police officers. The account blamed President Barack Obama and liberals for the backlash toward police after the police killings of black men Alton Sterling and Philando Castille.
“#blameobama all you libtards caused these deaths. #dallasshooting #fuckblacklivesmatter,” the account tweeted.
The next day, Mensa took his own stand. “Will not be performing at @PopuluxDetroit on #BackWithAVengeance due to the racist comments they tweeted yesterday,” he tweeted, along with a screenshot of the tweet in question.
While it may seem like an obvious move to many of the Chicago native's supporters and hip-hop fans, artists don’t cancel shows very often while citing principled causes. Likely because they fear a breach of contract lawsuit, many artists instead cite health reasons, deaths in the family, or other career-related concerns. But here, Mensa has taken a purposefully public and principled stand.
As far as the venue, Populux released a statement saying that the account was compromised, and that an investigation was underway to figure out how it happened. All of the Populux social media accounts were later deleted, and the venue itself is now shut down until further notice.
While Mensa's actions are notable, he's one of several artists who are actually taking action to combat racism and police brutality.
Last Friday, Snoop Dogg and The Game led a peaceful rally through the streets of Los Angeles, and even took a meeting with the LAPD. Producer Just Blaze was stopped by police while driving his Lamborghini, and he used Periscope to give his thousands of followers live video of the interaction.
T.I. and his son marched with protesters in Atlanta, and Jay Z released a new song, “Spirtual,” that speaks on the current affairs. "I am not poison, just a boy from the hood that got my hands in the air with despair, don't shoot, I just wanna do good," he rhymed.
Those are only some of the actions: Rakim, Fashawn, and Boosie Badazz have all used recent interviews and social media to voice their concerns about the issue, Beyonce released a powerful statement about the police shootings and about the sniper attacks on Dallas officers, and Drake broke his silence to make a rare political statement.
There is still far more work to do, and artists likely have more ideas in the works. But seeing artists take a stand beyond social media messages and actually take action to fight for what they believe in is inspiring. Hip-hop was born an era of oppression and it's still fighting.
By William Ketchum III, aka @WEKetchum
Photo Credit: Tumblr