On Friday Belgium’s national soccer association pulled the plug on a collaboration they had with platinum recording artist Damso following protest from a number of politicians, women’s groups, and corporate sponsors. According to The New York Times, the gripe was over the Belgian-Congolese rapper’s lyrics, deemed sexist. Damso, 25, had been tasked with creating the country’s official song for the World Cup when it kicks off this summer. Damso has two albums out on Universal, one platinum, the other triple-plat.
Coming up with an official song for a soccer tournament seems a little weird. But, as The Times wrote:
National soccer teams often commission musicians to create songs for big tournaments as a way of building morale and reflecting national identity. But the choice of Damso, whose songs feature threats of violence against women and crude references to the female anatomy, has instead inflamed tensions between fighting sexism and freedom of expression.
Prior to the decision to cut ties with Damso, the Royal Belgian Football Association claimed it wouldn’t be “taken hostage” by protesters courting controversy. However, that’s what people always say, and then they just capitulate anyway. A statement released Friday called the parting of ways a “mutual decision.” The statement added, “We especially wish to apologize to all those who felt offended, discriminated against or diminished by the choice of the artist in question.”
Back in 2014, Belgium outlawed “gendered insults and sexist intimidation.” The decision to hire/fire Damso kicked off debates over censorship, free speech and figuring out where the line is. I could go into detail, but you’re probably familiar with similar arguments without having to import them from other countries.
Women’s groups had targeted corporate sponsors over the past few days asking them to stop backing the Belgian team because of Damso’s lyrics, which they claimed “[expressed] hate, abuse and violence toward women to a degree that is frankly stupefying.”
Damso laughed off the controversy and deemed his critics to be too lazy to learn the nuances and codes of rap.