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SFUO distances itself from rapper’s scheduled performance, CUSA criticized on social media

Photo courtesy of Urban Jamz Entertainment

RICK ROSS’S UPCOMING concert in Ottawa has been met with criticism by the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) and Carleton University students.

The Miami-based rapper’s planned performance at a student concert on April 9 has become a source of controversy as many have pointed to his lyrics as perpetuating misogyny and rape culture.

Since 2007, the SFUO and the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) have hosted an annual joint concert called Pandamonium. Until last week, Ross’s performance was advertised by CUSA as being a part of Pandamonium.

According to an official statement issued by CUSA, promotions group Urban Jamz Entertainment had already slated Ross for a performance in Ottawa when CUSA purchased a large portion of the tickets in January to sell to students at cost.

“We are now in the process of looking into selling off the remainder of the tickets back to the organizers,” the statement said.

Recently, Ross has come under fire for his lyrics in the song “U.O.E.N.O (You Ain’t Even Know It)” by Atlanta-based rapper Rocko, on which Ross performed a guest spot.

The song was released in February—after ticket sales had already begun, according to the CUSA statement—but has recently been attacked by women’s groups and reported on by the media. Ross has been accused of condoning date rape in the song when he raps, “Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”

In its statement, CUSA apologized for linking itself to Ross, but also said the organization wasn’t aware of the controversial song until it later gained notoriety.

“We would like to reaffirm our stance that we consider the lyrics in question to be repulsive and uncharacteristic of the views and beliefs of CUSA as an organization and its members,” the statement said. “This incident is regrettable and unpredictable. CUSA remains conscious of the fact that it has reflected poorly on the organization and its members.”

The statement comes after the association’s role in the concert was widely criticized by students on social media. A Facebook page called “Cancel the Rick Ross Concert funded by Carleton Students & CUSA” was created in protest.

“Why are we as students funding a concert that a lot of people have an issue with? With all due respect to both sides of this issue, I just don’t understand why a more suitable candidate wasn’t suggested other than Rick Ross,” one user wrote.

“I really don’t give a damn that Rick Ross isn’t going to be playing the offensive song,” wrote another. “His very presence is offensive and the fact that his public persona embodies such misogyny and condones such disgusting behaviour should have clued in the organizers of this event as to why he never should have been signed in the first place.”

The SFUO decided against jointly hosting Pandamonium and denounced CUSA’s continued involvement in the event in an official statement dated March 26.

“This year, after the decision was made to include the artist Rick Ross on the lineup, the SFUO refused to participate in this event and has requested that CUSA no longer use the title Pandamonium with which the SFUO has been associated,” the statement said.

“Rick Ross has gained notoriety through misogynistic lyrics including those that explicitly depict sexual assault through drugging women. The SFUO stands strongly behind its decision not to participate in this event and maintains that it should not continue to include a performance by Rick Ross.”

SFUO president Ethan Plato further explained that the student federation’s involvement in the concert was deemed a bad idea for a variety of reasons and that the content of Ross’s music was a big part of the decision to sever ties to the event.

“It was a deal that we weren’t really, for a lot of different reasons, prepared to get into,” he said.

Plato said vp social Jozef Spiteri and others in the local entertainment community weren’t familiar with Urban Jamz and that Spiteri thought having a connection between Ross and the SFUO would hurt the reputation of the organization.

“[Spiteri] came to us and said, ‘This is not a good look for us to have. This person is not a positive artist to be bringing to our students, and it’s not something we should be spending money on,’” said Plato.

“It’s beyond those specific lyrics,” he continued. “I think a lot of the time people get really hung up on one thing and it’s like, ‘Oh well, we’ll tell him not to play that song so it will be okay.’ The crux of the issue is that it’s more than just that, right? There are other songs and other lyrics that are just as problematic from our perspective.”

Ross defended his lyrics in an interview on New Orleans hip-hop radio station Q 93.3.

“I want to make sure this is clear, that woman is the most precious gift known to man. You understand? There was a misunderstanding with a lyric, a misinterpretation. The term rape wasn’t used. I would never use the term rape in my records,” he said.

Messages from the Fulcrum to both CUSA and Ross’s publicist were not returned.