Slowthai Was Obviously Not Promoting Fascism, Antisemitism With His Shirt at Osheaga Fest

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Slowthai, the fiercely political U.K. rapper, was forced to issue a clarification and apology after his anti-fascist t-shirt was misconstrued as fascist. 

While performing at the Osheaga Festival in Montreal over the weekend, Slowthai wore a version of an iconic Vivienne Westwood-designed shirt emblazoned with a swastika, an upside-down illustration of Christ on the cross, and the word “DESTROY” above it. Photos and videos of Slowthai and his shirt quickly started spreading on social media, and even though the extremely important word “DESTROY” was pretty clearly visible, the rapper soon found himself facing some rather fierce criticism, including allegations of antisemitism. 

On Monday, Aug. 1, Slowthai issued a statement on Twitter that read, “I’m sorry to anyone who is offended by me wearing an anti-fascist/anti-regime t-shirt and the use of the symbol it represents. I want you to know I stand firmly against antisemitism and fascism of any kind, something the t-shirt was meant to illustrate with the word ‘destroy’ above the symbol.”

Osheaga also addressed the situation, saying, “A performer appeared on stage Saturday wearing a controversial t-shirt displaying a swastika that caused confusion. The t-shirt denounces the regime. We sincerely apologize to anyone who may have misinterpreted the message and felt hurt.”

That Slowthai, of all artists, wound up at the center of such a controversy is deeply wild considering his incredibly outspoken past. He famously cursed out the Queen and the British monarchy on the title-track of his first album, Nothing Great About Britain, and earned even more righteous notoriety in 2019 when he ended his performance at the Mercury Prize ceremony by holding up a fake decapitated head of now-outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.