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MIA out as Afropunk London headliner after Black Lives Matter comments

Decision was ‘agreed upon by all involved,’ festival says

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Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

M.I.A. will not be in action at the Afropunk London festival in September.

Organizers announced Friday that the outspoken Sri Lankan-British rapper is no longer headlining the event, a decision that “was agreed upon by all involved.”

M.I.A.’s exit comes in the wake of her making controversial statements about the Black Lives Matter movement earlier this year. In April, she told the Evening Standard, “It’s interesting that in America the problem you’re allowed to talk about is Black Lives Matter. 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.”

When Afropunk announced M.I.A. as the headliner of its first London festival, the news prompted a backlash online. The artist addressed the controversy on Twitter, and in one tweet said, “Sorry I’m not doin Afropunk. I’ve been told to stay in my lane.”

At the time, however, Afropunk issued a statement saying M.I.A. would still perform in London, and “the fact that [her] comments sparked dialogue about a global view of the Black struggle is not a failing.”

As of Friday, the decision for M.I.A. to remain had been reversed. “We are excited and honored to do our first Afropunk Festival in London and want to do it right,” organizers said in a statement. “After discussing the situation with the artist and the community, a decision was agreed upon by all involved that M.I.A. will no longer headline Afropunk London.”

Representatives for M.I.A. could not be reached for immediate comment.

A new headliner will be named with the second wave of performers July 19. Read the full statement below.

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