Calls for Rhythm and Vines to drop Dizzee Rascal over assault conviction

Dizzee Rascal
There are calls to drop Dizzee Rascal from the Rhythm and Vines festival. Photo credit: Getty Images

Women's advocacy groups have issued a strongly worded letter to the organisers and sponsors of the Rhythm and Vines festival asking them to reconsider bringing over British rapper Dizzee Rascal as a headliner for the 2022 New Year event.

Rascal, whose real name is Dylan Kwabena Mills, was convicted eight months ago in the UK of the assault of his ex-partner.

He headbutted former girlfriend Cassandra Jones during an argument in June 2021.

After appearing in court, he was given a 24-week curfew, an electronic tag, and a restraining order. However, in November, he was announced as a headliner for the 20th anniversary event in Gisborne.

In a post on Instagram, Beneath the Glass Ceiling said it represented Women’s Refuge, She is Not Your Rehab, Help Auckland and Soundcheck Aotearoa and directly pleaded to Rhythm and Vines, Live Nation, and other sponsors of the festival to reconsider.

"It is no secret that Aotearoa has the worst rates of domestic violence in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)," the statement read.

"By choosing to platform a perpetrator of domestic violence, you are telling our community, particularly our rangatahi, that domestic violence is not a big deal."

The group also called out R&V founder Hamish Pinkham's comment Rascal "had done the crime, he's done the time, now it's time to do the grime" when he spoke to Stuff in November.

Pinkham later apologised for the statement, saying it was "inappropriate."

"The words used were inappropriate and chosen without thought when discussing the serious matter.

"Rhythm & Vines does not condone violence of any kind and we have a responsibility to ensure our artists, fans and our crew feel safe and supported. We regret any distress these words may have caused.

"We want to highlight the positive work by organisations in our communities to educate people on the importance of safe and healthy relationships, and we will take steps to work with them on how we can better educate our music community and support the important work they do. 

"Rhythm & Vines respects the justice process in the United Kingdom and the artist is following the process required by Immigration New Zealand for any artists entering the country," the statement said.

"Women have been fighting for inclusion and safety in the music industry for decades, but by choosing to give Dizzee Rascal a space on stage, you are taking away space from other artists who are more deserving of it," the statement said.

Even though Rascal has been convicted, The Spinoff reported Immigration NZ as saying the rapper had been cleared to play in NZ this summer.

When approached by Newshub, Rhythm and Vines said it had no comment. 

Rascal will make his Gisborne debut as one of the headline acts at the 2022 Rhythm and Vines festival in December.

The event will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year -  along with Rascal, who will be marking 20 years since his debut album release Boy In Da Corner. 

The three-day event will take place at Gisborne's Waiohika Estate from December 29.