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US rappers Odd Future banned from New Zealand

February 13, 2014

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The manager for banned U.S. rap group Odd Future says Tyler, The Creator, and his fellow members in the collective have changed over time and aren’t being given credit for growing up.

New Zealand immigration authorities Thursday banned the Los Angeles rappers from entering the country after deciding they pose a threat to public order. The group was due to play an open-air concert with headline act Eminem on Saturday in Auckland.

“It’s disappointing because it’s coming from a place where the reasoning is based on lyrics and/or actions that happened when these guys were teenagers,” manager Christian Clancy said. “And if that’s a stance someone’s going to take, then what are you implying? That you don’t allow talented kids to grow and change?”

Border Operations Manager Karen Urwin said authorities decided to decline visas to six group members after becoming aware of a 2011 incident in Boston in which some witnesses claimed group members incited fans to attack police officers.

“It’s not a decision we take lightly and not one that happens often,” Urwin said.

Tyler, The Creator, vented his frustration on Twitter on Thursday.

“They said we were ‘terrorist threats and bad for the society’ or whatever. Sick,” he wrote. He later tweeted, “I love NZ tho.”

The hip-hop group, which is also known as Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, was initially known for its anarchic style and lyrics that canvas drugs, killing and rape — though those themes have been toned down in its more recent work.

Urwin said the six rappers had intended to stay in New Zealand just a few days before leaving for Australia.

She said it was rare to ban musicians under rules that cover character concerns. She said those provisions in the past have been used to stop people like white supremacist group leaders and high-profile Holocaust deniers.

She said some people wrongly assumed authorities considered the group’s lyrics in imposing the ban.

“If we banned people who used swear words, we wouldn’t have many people left in New Zealand,” she said.

In an official statement, Immigration New Zealand said: “Odd Future has been deemed to be a potential threat to public order and the public interest for several reasons, including incidents at past performances in which they have incited violence.”

In the 2011 incident, Tyler, The Creator was signing autographs at a comic store when police were called because of the large number of fans. News reports at the time said some people climbed on the roof and shouted insults at the police, and some viewed that as inciting fans to attack.

Urwin said an Odd Future group member in Australia also tweeted details of a woman campaigning to have the group banned, which resulted in her receiving threats.

In 2012, New Zealand banned former heavyweight boxing champion and convicted rapist Mike Tyson from coming to a speaking engagement due to his criminal history. Last year it banned musician David Rovics, citing his blog posts on drug-taking and a Canadian ban for giving false information to immigration officials there.

Clancy said the group also had trouble with protesters that led to the nixing of an appearance a Big Day Out in 2012. The group scheduled another show instead at a club, then toured the country, which he said they fell in love with. He said he wishes those who are protesting their visit could “sit with them for a day.”

“I live with these kids,” Clancy said. “They hang around my 6-year-old daughter. They hold her hand when they cross the street. ... All these kinds of judgments. The last time we were there they were homophobic. These are the least judgmental kids I’ve been around in my life.”


AP Music Writer Chris Talbott in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed to this report.

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