The rapper Action Bronson is known, primarily, for his sizable presence, rapping about how much he loves food, and referencing all kinds of obscure athletes.
He's also occasionally said some pretty shitty things about transgender people, once writing on Twitter, "I love gay people. Trannies not so much." He's also made a song titled "Consensual Rape," and video for a song called "Brunch" where he kills a woman and calls her a bitch as he stabs her.
For these reasons, Trinity College announced Wednesday that they were removing Bronson from their Spring Weekend celebration.
They cited a petition on Change.org as drawing attention to his lyrics, and said they learned of the "severity and depth of some of Action Bronson’s lyrics" in early March. Eventually, they determined that "the very act of bringing him to this campus runs counter to the College’s obligation to protect the emotional and physical safety of its students."
In March, George Washington University chose to remove Bronson as the performer for their Spring Fling show in late March, writing in a statement, "We apologize to the GW community for causing distress over the past few days and for attempting to bring an artist who is not consistent with our values of diversity and inclusion."
In a follow-up statement, Bronson wrote, in part, "Regardless, I understand that when it comes to musicians, and more specifically rappers, the lyrics I say are taken to heart many times as a representation of my beliefs or true feelings. SO please let me make this very clear: I think rape and acts of violence toward woman are DISGUSTING. I would never condone anything remotely close to that type of behavior, and it’s certainly not what I’m about at all."
Outside of these two incidents, Bronson's career is largely on the upswing. He released his debut album, Mr. Wonderful, in 2015; the album debuted at seven on the Billboard 200. He also hosts a cooking show on Vice, called "Fuck, That's Delicious." The incidents cited by George Washington and Trinity all occurred some years in the past, and Bronson—at least publicly—seemed to have moved past that stage of his career.
So why would did these school book Bronson in the first place?
For argument's sake, Bronson is relatively famous (but not too famous) and popular with young people—he's a good fit for this kind of low-stakes performance on a school's quad while kids smoke pot and mostly ignore what's going on in the background. When these schools asked him to perform, they probably didn't know about his five-year-old tweets. They likely just thought they were getting someone popular enough that students wouldn't rag on them for being cheap or out-of-touch.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.