Grace Jones is replacing M.I.A. as the headlining act for the inaugural Afropunk London Festival. M.I.A. faced a backlash after her criticisms of the Black Lives Matter movement earlier this year. According to the star, BLM protestors don’t speak enough about the issues faced by refugees.
“It’s interesting that in America the problem you’re allowed to talk about is Black Lives Matter,” said M.I.A. in an interview with Evening Standard. “It’s not a new thing to me – it’s what Lauryn Hill was saying in the 1990s, or Public Enemy in the 1980s. Is Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Matter? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this kid in Pakistan matters? That’s a more interesting question.”
Many took her words as an attack on the Black Lives Matter movement. Some fans demanded that Afropunk remove M.I.A. from the bill since the festival promotes an anti-hate and pro-black message.
Months later, Afropunk announced that she would no longer be performing at the festival. It hasn’t been officially stated that M.I.A.’s statements led to her removal from the show, but the official statement seems to allude to the controversy.
“After discussing the situation with the artist and the community, a decision was agreed upon by all involved that MIA will no longer headline Afropunk London,” read the statement from the festival.
Grace Jones, who previously headlined at Brooklyn’s Afropunk last year, will join a number of London’s notables including Lady Leshurr, SZA, Goldlink and MNEK.