A Rock the Vote concert featuring rapper Nas has come under fire amid controversy pertaining to where the show will be held.
CBC News reports that the concert was scheduled to take place Oct. 1 at the Ottawa Congress Centre in Canada.
However, student groups at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa were told two weeks after confirming Nass appearance at the centre that they would not be able to use the venue.
According to Isaac Cockburn, vice-president of student issues for the Carleton University Students’ Association, he was told by the centres vice president of food and beverage, Peter Seguin, that the centre has a policy banning Hip-Hop and rap.
“He in fact said that he’d had over 200 requests for Hip-Hop shows that he’s turned down over the past couple of years,” Cockburn told CBC. “He said that it was an increased security risk and that it was a vulnerability that the Congress Centre was not willing to take on.”
The purpose of the Rock the Vote show is to encourage concertgoers to vote in an Oct. 10 election in Ontario.
In light of discussions that took place with the venue since July, Cockburn said the students were surprised by the centres decision to not hold the show and added that preliminary arrangements for security, lighting and sound were also made.
Although they were told that their choice of musical act had to be cleared with the centre, Cockburn stated the students didnt think they would have any problems with having Nas, since a hard rock band had played at the centre last September.
Nevertheless, the group said they were told that the rapper was the reason why they could not use the venue.
On Monday (Aug. 27), the students received a phone call from the centre’s vice-president of client services, Paul Keogh, who said the problem did not stem from the internal policy.
Instead, Cockburn said, Keogh told the group that Nas’ lyrics promote gun violence.
The group voiced their disappointment to the centre’s president and Tourism Minister Jim Bradley, stating that the policy was culturally insensitive.
Neither Seguin nor Keogh were available for comment, said Lynne Martichenko, a spokeswoman for the centre who disputed the students claims as she denied that the problem did not lie with Nas or rap music.
According to her, the centre is designed for meetings, trade shows and conventions.
The type of event that the students want to have is not suitable for the congress centre room they tried to book, which has new carpets and chandeliers, Martichenko told the CBC, adding that the centre had not signed any contract with the students.
Rock the Vote organizers are currently looking for another place to hold the concert since it would be hard to find another act to perform, said Cockburn.
The Ottawa show is the latest setback for Nas, who experienced a similar situation recently after being booked to perform at “A Concert For Virginia Tech,” along with John Mayer, Phil Vassar and The Dave Matthews Band.
The event, which is slated to take place Sept. 6, was created as a way to for the University and the surrounding community to move forward in the wake of an April 16 shooting that left 32 people dead and 15 others wounded at the school.
Despite complaints from the families of some of the shooting victims about Nas lyrics, university officials decided to go ahead with the show.