London-born, Germany-based DJ TAI ran into a firestorm of controversy with his latest EP, released on the Dim Mak label owned by Steve Aoki, but issued an apology almost immediately.
On Wednesday, Deejay NDN of A Tribe Called Red brought the issue to prominence with a Facebook post about the release, "Indian Kill," which in addition to an insensitive title featured cover art that struck many Natives as out of line in light of the history of genocide perpetrated against American Indians.
"I can't believe this is ok," NDN wrote. "This is the cover for TAI's new album 'Indian Kill'. He's a German producer signed to Dim Mak owned by Steve Aoki. This makes me sick on how violent racism like this is acceptable in the EDM. I'm so upset right now."
The fact that the release was on Aoki's label was additionally chafing, as Aoki has been criticized in the past for wearing a Native headdress as a fashion accessory. (He's not alone -- see our list of "13 Rock Stars Who've Worn Native Headdresses")
Concerned music fans rallied to the cause. As a poster at AllDayPlay.fm wrote, Steve Aoki "needs our help. ... demand he remove the release, change the name, nix the tune (the song sucks and has an annoying vocal sample that “whoops”) and burn his fucking head-dress."
Wednesday evening, TAI posted an apology to his Facebook page that reads, in part:
I fully apologize for the artwork, title, and sounds included in my recently released "Indian Kill" EP and take complete responsibility for any offense it may have caused. I currently have the release being removed from all sites.
Having been born in London and raised in Thailand, I was raised with a strong respect and affinity for all cultures. But being from the Eastern Hemisphere, I was unfortunately not fully versed in the negative connotations that my EP's content would have, and I am truly sorry for any offense I have caused. I know that my ignorance of these matters cannot be used as an excuse in any way, but I want to make it clear that I in no way intended for the EP to be offensive or to stir controversy, etc. Those who know me personally know that I am anything but a racist, and I now understand fully that the track and artwork were poor choices to represent my artistic direction.
Additionally, TAI stated that the EP was being pulled from stores, but that the process would take a little while and that some copies had already been sold. He pledged that the money generated from any sales would go to the Native American Heritage Association.