Pa Salieu has announced that his planned performance at the closing ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games has been pulled amid legal controversy. Sharing a clip of a choreographed rehearsal for the event on social media, he writes: “Yesterday I received a call to say that I’m being removed from the show because I ‘failed a background check’.”
Over the course of this year, the Coventry-based rapper and former Dazed cover star has been wrapped up in a court case related to his involvement in a 2018 brawl that saw his friend, Fidel Glasgow, fatally stabbed. Back in March, he was cleared of engaging in violent disorder during the brawl, though he was convicted of possessing a bottle “as an offensive weapon”. He had also already admitted to a second count of violent disorder, tied to an attack on a man shortly after the fight.
In his statement about the cancelled Commonwealth Games appearance, Salieu says: “I can’t keep being silent about this stuff! I’ve already had to cancel 90 per cent of my shows this year because the Home Office won’t process the paperwork I need to travel abroad until my court case is finished.”
According to the artist, the final sentencing date for the trial – which ended in March, with “full cooperation” from Salieu – was originally due to be in May, but keeps getting moved back. “Most recently the date moved because the ‘prosecutor has gone on holiday’.”
“I’ve consistently been trying to use my career to show people where I’m from that there is another life for us. One away from the roads,” he adds, having refused to shy away from the violent and criminal elements of his upbringing on his 2020 debut mixtape Send Them to Coventry. “But what can you do if the police, the justice system, and the Home Office don’t care about you and put everything possible in your way to stop you trying to get on with your life?”
“Next weeks’ performance should have been a celebration. What is the real reason here? How can you fail a ‘background check’ to perform at a closing ceremony. What does that even mean?”
Watch footage of Pa Salieu’s rehearsal for the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, and read his statement in full, below.