Rita Ora and Labrinth join music’s protest after Wiley’s antisemitic rant

Artists, producers and executives sign a statement condemning prejudice and hate speech in the industry

Many top names in rap, folk, rock and pop music, from Rita Ora and Labrinth to James Blunt and the 1975, joined this weekend to take an unprecedented stand against racism.

In the wake of the antisemitic outburst that led to the grime artist Wiley’s ban from Twitter last week, hundreds of leading producers, songwriters, singers, music publishers, record companies and musicians, based largely in Britain or America, have agreed to support a strongly worded document that aims to clarify an industry-wide position against prejudice and hate speech.

Together, the statement reads, they hope “to demonstrate and express our determination, that love, unity and friendship, not division and hatred, must and will always be our common cause”.

The statement, which will also appear as a letter in printed and social media in the next few days, is also signed by performers Calum Scott, Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke, Years & Years, Placebo, Goldie and Jess Glynne, alongside leading labels and publishers including Sony, Parlophone, Polydor, Universal and Warner Chappell Music UK.

Rapper Labrinth signed the statement, which will appear across various media in the coming days. Photograph: Dymond/Thames/Syco/ Rex/Shutterstock

One prominent signatory, Markell Casey, senior creative director at the influential publisher Pulse Music Group in LA, spoke on Saturday of his commitment to respond. “It’s important to stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters. We are all human and we cannot turn a blind eye to racism,” he said.

Casey, who works with songwriter and producer James Blake, said that now is a “moment to be better informed about our shared history”. “Jews and black people have historically worked together to end discrimination,” he said. “Positive contributions by Jews towards civil rights for black people in the US and South Africa should not be overlooked.”

The list of signatories is remarkable, not just for the numbers gathered at speed in a campaign being partly orchestrated from the home of the leading A&R man Alistair Goldsmith along with co-organiser Marc Fineman, but also for the wide range of talent that has rallied round. Alongside younger talents such as Clean Bandit, MNEK and Naughty Boy are established industry names such as Andy Taylor of Duran Duran, Nile Rodgers and Niall Horan, formerly of One Direction.

Last weekend, Wiley began posting a series of antisemitic tweets and went on to compare the Jewish community to the Ku Klux Klan. It is now thought the outburst may have come in the aftermath of a recent row between the rapper and his former manager, who is Jewish.

By the end of last week, Twitter had banned the artist from its site and also apologised for taking too long to react. Wiley also tried to say sorry. “I just want to apologise for generalising and going outside of the people who I was talking to within the workspace and workplace I work in,” he said, claiming he was not a racist.

British black newspaper the Voice came under fire for publishing an inflammatory interview with Wiley, in which it asked whether “within his ranting were there any salient points?” It removed the online version on Friday, saying it had “not, and makes it clear again, supported or in any way condoned the outbursts by Wiley that the Jewish community finds offensive. We do not support the stereotyping of any race or group.”

• This article was amended on 2 August 2020 because an earlier version omitted to include Marc Fineman as one of the campaign’s organisers.


Vanessa Thorpe

The GuardianTramp

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