Rapper Belly has responded to criticism of his language in a public performance at Nathan Phillips Square Monday night with a series of fiery and profanity-laced tweets.
His angry comments come after some spectators said they were shocked at the repeated use of profanities during the Ottawa rapper’s performance at the Canada Day weekend celebrations at Nathan Phillips Square on Monday night. The performance was billed as a public event and was attended by children and teenagers.
Thumbing his nose at critics, the rapper suggested that anyone who took issue with his performance should “s**k my d**k.” He suggested that parents who have their kids out late at night should expect them to hear swearing.
Some of the tweets have since been deleted.
The City of Toronto apologized for the performance on Monday and said it came as a “terrible surprise.”
“I think what happened was extremely disappointing and we do sincerely apologize to all our families and audiences that were in attendance at the event last night,” city spokeswoman Wynna Brown told CP24 Tuesday.
Brown said the city is accustomed to working with performers from a range of genres and said the profanity-laced performance was “not acceptable.”
“Our content is G-rated. It’s intended for families and our artists know that coming into this venue,” Brown said. “It is a public venue and we’re extremely disappointed with what happened.”
But in another tweet, Belly disputed that he agreed to give a family-friendly performance.
“ps. 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,” the rapper tweeted.
In other tweets, he said the complaints amount to an attempt at censorship and said “They will never censor my art.”
“That's the beauty of living somewhere with REAL freedoms,” he wrote, including an emoji of the Canadian flag.
that's the beauty of living somewhere with REAL freedoms— BELLY (@reBELLYus) July 4, 2017
The concert was part of a series of free outdoor performances over the weekend for Canada 150 that included a range of performers such as Barenaked Ladies, Ron Sexmith and a surprise performance by Drake.
While a handful of swear words were heard in Drake’s performance on Sunday night, Brown said Drake would not have signed a contract as his appearance was a surprise.
However Brown said that of the 1,000 performers the city worked with for the festivities, the concert by Belly was the only one that prompted complaints.
Calls and comments from some shocked viewers prompted the city to issue an apology on social media following the performance on Monday night.
The #CityofTO apologizes for the inappropriate content during tonight's closing performance at Nathan Phillips Square.— Special Events T.O. (@specialeventsTO) July 4, 2017
“The #CityofTO apologizes for the inappropriate content during tonight's closing performance at Nathan Phillips Square,” a tweet by @specialeventsTO read.
Speaking to CP24 at Nathan Phillips Square on Tuesday morning, one concerned parent said she was "outraged" by the language used during the performance.
"I have an 11-year-old who I’m trying to mentor to be an upstanding citizen and I was just outraged that that programming could allow that kind of protocol, that there isn’t some kind of censorship to what is allowed and what isn’t allowed on such a major family event," Lee Thureson said.
"I was standing with other mothers and they were all commenting."
Responding to the controversy, Coun. Michael Thompson, who chairs the Economic Development Committee, told CP24 that the profanity in the performance was unfortunate and said it’s his understanding that the contracts stipulate that performers not use the type of language that caused offense.
“I think we’re going to examine all the various options that are available to us and so on,” Thomson said. “Clearly we want people to come and perform, but at the same time we don’t want it to be done in this particular fashion, which is offensive to many people.”
He said he’d like to see the city review its policies and contracts around performing artists.
“In the heat of the moment things happen. I’m not suggesting for one moment it’s okay; it’s not,” he said. “We should have done a better job in terms of recognizing the potential possibility of these types of things occurring, especially when we’re offering family entertainment to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.”
But another city councillor responding to the controversy suggested people should have been conscious of who they were coming to see when they decided to attend the performance.
“What did people expect when a rapper performs, nursery rhymes?” Coun. James Pasternak said in a tweet.
Belly’s management team has not returned calls for comment.