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No, we don’t need to host a tribute night to XXXTentacion at The Den

By Derek Baker, December 3 2018 —

“Have u seen this”

That was a message I received last week, accompanied with a snap of a promotional poster for an upcoming themed Thursden. The sign advertises a tribute night on Dec. 8, with a range of contemporary rap and hip-hop artists.

Not my go-to genre of music, but not where my issue lies.

Smack in the middle of the poster sits a photo of the late rapper XXXTentacion, a rapper with a confessed history of domestic abuse, including beating up and strangling an ex-girlfriend, among other incidents of alleged assault. Vulture provides an unsettling timeline of his controversial past, which includes charges for multiple cases of assault, domestic violence, false imprisonment, the battery of his pregnant ex-girlfriend and violent threats.

He was awaiting trial for many of these charges before he was shot and killed.

This is an artist who The Den feels we need to have a tribute night for, or at least lacked the judgement or sensitivity that led him to be front-and-centre on their promotional material.

Who thought this was a good idea?

It’s disappointing to see a student organization promote and host this night for a confessed domestic abuser. The Den is a student-owned space that has participated in commendable efforts in the past, through programs like the Bystander Intervention Training, and is run by our Students’ Union that promotes initiatives like dating violence prevention and general well-being.

Like his music or not, hosting a tribute night with XXXTentacion is an affront to what the SU should stand for.

Separating an artist from their music is a complicated task. I’ve resigned myself to believe that, yes, you can enjoy music from your ‘problematic faves’ without glorifying the artist.

And we certainly don’t need a tribute night for them, either.

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