Dozens of prominent figures from the world of entertainment have come together to support hip hop artist and political campaigner Lowkey, after he was subject to a smear campaign and an attempt to remove his work from music streaming platform Spotify.
Among the signatories denouncing the attack as a crude attempt to silence him include “Vampire Diaries” star Michael Malarkey, rappers Styles P and Wretch 32, rock legend Roger Waters and Grammy award-winning producer FredWreck.
Another list of prominent figures from the world of academia, media and politics who support Lowkey and his right to free expression will be released shortly, as will an open letter that members of the public can sign.
As detailed by MintPress last week, because of his tireless advocacy for Palestinian liberation, Lowkey has been the subject of a longtime surveillance and harassment campaign by pro-Israel groups, NGOs and media outlets, some of whom are directly funded and staffed by the Israeli embassy. In recent weeks, the attacks have increased, with appearances at Cambridge University and the National Union of Students postponed or canceled due to pressure. Lowkey hosts the podcast series “The Watchdog” for MintPress, in which he has exposed pro-Isael groups’ attempts to cancel or suppress Palestinian voices.
In addition to the attempt to remove his music from Spotify, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has even weighed in on the situation, stating in parliament last week that British universities have “for far too long been tolerant of casual or indeed systematic antisemitism,” adding that he “hope[s] that everybody understands the need for rapid, and indeed irreversible change,” before announcing that the United Kingdom needed a new antisemitism task force “devoted to rooting out” the problem at all levels of the education system – comments that suggest that the entire pro-Palestine student movement is under threat.
The full statement, along with some of the more prominent signatories, reads as follows:
Spotify: Do not buckle to pressure to deplatform Lowkey
We artists, musicians and other public figures and organizations are deeply concerned by the coordinated campaign against rapper and campaigner Lowkey.
Lowkey has become the target of a coordinated smear campaign to demonize, defame and deplatform him. Earlier this month, organized groups forced the University of Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Society to postpone his lecture and were able to stop his appearance at the National Union of Students in Liverpool.
Now, a campaign by lobby group “We Believe in Israel” is demanding that his content be removed from music streaming service Spotify. This is unacceptable censorship.
The campaign against Lowkey is designed to silence Palestinians and their supporters. Anti-Palestinian censorship is now reaching into the artistic realm. Today Lowkey; tomorrow, who is next?
Lowkey’s music has inspired and energized millions around the world and ignited an interest in many about the issues he raises in his work. As a relentless advocate for Palestinian human rights, he is a target for many who would rather his message not be heard.
This is precisely the reason for the recent campaign against him. We hereby call on Spotify and all other platforms not to buckle to pressure groups who would rather see his music removed than grapple with the issues he highlights in his music.
More information about the campaign against Lowkey can be found here.
Roger Waters, Grammy Award nominated and BAFTA winning co-founder and co-lead vocalist of Pink Floyd
Michael Malarkey, actor
Styles P, musician
Anwar Hadid, model
Farah Nabulsi, Academy Award nominated and BAFTA winning filmmaker
Charlie Sloth, DJ
Guz Khan, comedian and actor
Ana Tijoux, Grammy Award nominated and Latin Grammy Award winning singer
FredWreck, Grammy Award-winning music artist and record producer for Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg
Aymen Hamdouchi, actor
Billy Dib, former IBF featherweight champion
Wretch 32, musician
Mim Shaikh, broadcaster and actor
Zekaria al-Bostani (Zek Snaps), photographer
Elliot Hensford, creative director, photographer
Charlie Sarsfield, director
Chirolles Khalil, UK Music Video Awards nominated director
Bu Kolthoum, music producer, hip-hop & soul artist
Maverick Sabre, musician
Yassin Alsalman (Narcy), music artist
Khaled Siddiq, musician
Dexplicit, record producer
Mr Hudson, musician
K Koke, musician
Spotify is a new battlefield in the culture war. In January, a number of prominent musicians, including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, removed their content from the platform in protest of the company’s continued support for podcaster Joe Rogan, who they claimed was publishing harmful misinformation about Covid-19.
The platform, which is thought to boast nearly half a billion users, is a key vehicle through which artists can reach an audience, gain a following, and receive an income. The effort to remove Lowkey from Spotify is therefore both an attempt to stop millions of people listening to his music and throttle him financially. In 2011, The Jewish Chronicle described Lowkey’s increasing influence and recognition as one of the most gifted lyricists in hip hop as a “potential nightmare” for the Israeli government.
Public awareness of and sympathy for the Palestinian cause continues to rise. A February poll conducted by YouGov found that more than two-and-a-half times as many Britons now side with Palestine (27%) rather than Israel (11%) – the largest disparity since they began tracking the question. This suggests that pro-Israel groups are losing the battle for public opinion and will resort to increasingly dirty tactics such as this in the future.