While Dim Mak can be applauded for giving their artists complete creative freedom, it's surprising that situations like this can make it out of the door. Steve Aoki's imprint recently released TAI's Indian Kill EP. Yes, that was the name of the project, which was released with the offensive cover art up above. Again, how this even made it out of the door without someone speaking up is a bit unsettling.
Upon hearing about this EP, A Tribe Called Red's DJ NDN took to his Facebook page to express his outrage: "This makes me sick on how violent racism like this is acceptable in the EDM. I'm so upset right now." Drop The Lime, who'd contributed a remix to the title track, expressed his concern via the following tweet:
when I was asked to remix@therealtai single i had NO idea the artwork and ep was as so. I am ashamed and want no association with this.
— Drop The Lime (@dropthelime) May 1, 2013
We can understand how Drop the Lime might not have known the content of the single artwork - he might have just been sent files to rework. How this made it past whomever's hands to approve artwork then get the release to the distributor is what concerns us. Regardless, Dim Mak swiftly took charge, removing the EP immediately and, as TAI said via his Facebook page, donated any and all proceeds from the sale of the EP to the Native American Heritage Association. Here is a portion of his apology:
"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."
Dim Mak also went on the record to apologize for this EP, and it sounds like they might be changing their practices in the future:
"So why did we release this EP? It all comes down to one of our core company values: we at Dim Mak require that our artists maintain their complete creative freedom. As an indie label built out of a college bedroom over 15 years ago, we have been unbending on the complete freedom of expression that is at the essence of the DIY culture. We’ve never felt the need to question our artists’ creative vision, and in retrospect we see that was a mistake in this instance as the artist himself was not aware of the negative implications of the release that he delivered.
Now that we’ve witnessed the earnest offense that the release of this EP has caused (especially in relation to an issue that is much more significant than a simple dance music single could ever be), we understand that there are some lines that cannot and should not be crossed. To put it simply, this situation forced us to take a long hard look at how we balance creative freedom with cultural sensitivity."
DAD applauds Dim Mak and TAI for their apologies and the swift manner in which they rectified the situation, and we're hoping that they enact whatever checks they need to ensure that this kind of ridiculousness will be halted before reaching retail.