Transit agency cuts Montreal rapper's promotional video over use of English

·2 min read
Transit agency cuts Montreal rapper's promotional video over use of English

The first rapper on Montreal's new electric train was disappointed to find out his promotional video was pulled from the transit system's social media page.

"It was good visibility," said Montreal rapper Makendal St-Félix, known as Maky Lavender.

St-Félix was excited when he was approached to perform at a promotional event unveiling Réseau express métropolitain (REM) car replicas last year.

He was given a jersey to perform in and was asked to appear in a 30-second video, where he raps in a car replica and references the REM.

The REM's official TikTok page posted the clip on Tuesday, which was soon flooded with comments criticizing St-Félix for rapping in English.

Sarah Leavitt/CBC
Sarah Leavitt/CBC

The rapper said he assumed the commenters were trolling, referencing a common joke on TikTok imitating Quebecers telling anglophones to speak French, when it escalated.

When The Journal de Montreal first noticed the post and reached out to the REM for comment Thursday, the post was taken down. CBC has not seen the post in question.

"If [the commenters] were serious about that, that's funny," said St-Félix.

He said he found it "weird" that the corporation took down the video, when he was the one asked to create the promotional content. He also said he received a call asking him to refrain from speaking to the press.

"I don't really understand what I did wrong because I was paid to perform by the DIX30 as an event for the train," said St-Félix. "There's so many companies, so many corporations, I'm the little guy."

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ)'s infrastructure wing, which manages the REM project, told CBC the video did not meet their publication criteria on sharing information regarding the electric train.

"Our digital platforms highlight the different milestones of the project and are mostly in French," said CDPQ Infra spokesperson Emmanuelle Rouillard-Moreau.

St-Félix has spent the summer touring outside Quebec and said the experience helped him understand Quebec's language politics a bit better.

He said it can be a struggle to juggle wanting to have appeal outside of the francophone province while keeping his local reputation.

And if his rapping career doesn't take off, St-Félix said he would become a farmer in Gaspé.