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Monday, October 14, 2019

Rappers Dropped from New York Music Festival upon Police Request

The local edition of the traveling hip-hop festival Rolling Loud is scheduled to be held in Queens this weekend. On Saturday, representatives of the concert disclosed that five rappers with local New York roots had to be removed at the request of the New York Police Department. This move came after a letter was sent to the festival organizers on Wednesday by an assistant chief at the Police Department, named Martin Morales. In the letter, he requested the organizers to remove a total of five artists; Pop Smoke, Don Q, 22Gz, Sheff G and Casanova, all due to safety concerns.

These performers were scheduled to join several dozen blockbuster acts in the concert, such as Meek Mills, Wu-Tang Clan and Travis Scott at Citi Field. In the letter, the department said that these rappers had been affiliated with recent acts of violence all over the city. It further said that if these people were allowed to perform in the concert, there would be a greater risk of violence. The receipt of the letter was confirmed by Rolling Loud and it said that the artists had been removed from the lineup. No further comments were made by the festival organizers. 

Representatives for Sheff G, Don Q, Casanova and Pop Smoke confirmed that they were removed from the concert performance. 22Gz couldn’t be reached for any comment. The Police Department cited these artists because each of them have had some form of encounter with law enforcement. Pop Smoke, Don Q and Sheff G have dealt with weapon charges whereas 22Gz was charged with murder in 2017 in Florida. The charges were dropped after another man was identified as the gunman by the police. Casanova had also served in prison in New York because of a robbery charge. He was recently named by the rapper 6ix9ine in federal testimony. The rapper described a shooting between the rival crews of the artists and referred to both groups as members of the Blood Gang.

Don Q made a statement on Instagram in which he blamed the Police Department for ‘misinformation’. He said that he loved New York and never had any trouble with previous shows and wasn’t involved in any gang activities. He said that he hoped people would come to realize that canceling their performances was not a solution as they wanted to perform for their fans. Casanova also added in the comments that the decision was hurtful.

An owner and founder of Rolling Loud, Tariq Cherif posted a message on Twitter in which he suggested that the festival probably wouldn’t be allowed to return to New York City if they didn’t go along with the police request. This is due to the fact that the concert requires city permits. Mr. Cherif also stated that the full booking fees would be paid to all the artists who were cancelled and they would certainly be invited to perform at future iterations of the concert. In the past, Rolling Loud events have been connected to violence and arrests. 

Earlier this year, four people were wounded and two people died in Miami as a result of shootings during the weekend of the concert. This included an incident when a 5-year old bystander and girlfriend of the artist YoungBoy Never Broker Again (or NBA Youngboy) were wounded. His entourage was targeted by a shooter outside of the hotel. As a result of the crossfire, a 43-year old man was killed. Kodak Black, a rapper, was also arrested at the festival due to a weapons charge. Therefore, it is not surprising to know that the security associated with the festival has not satisfied some artists. 

At the Miami event, Lil Wayne had been expected to headline, but refused to perform at the festival after being subjected to a search. He wrote on Twitter that the Festival Police, not Rolling Loud, wouldn’t let him go to the stadium grounds before being checked and policed. He said that he would never allow anyone to police him so he could do his job and so he didn’t perform. This is not the first time that rappers have had to deal with problems where law enforcement is concerned. 

In New York, rappers have been complaining for long about being targeted by the Police Department. They claim that law enforcement makes it difficult for them to perform at concerts and also creates problems elsewhere. Over the years, a number of extensive dossiers on rap acts by the New York Police Department have been made public. As a matter of fact, even the department has acknowledged that they keep track of the local music scene for any potential criminal activity. In 2014, an anti-gang office had spoken to The New York Times. He said that the songs these rappers came up with talked about ongoing violence and so they couldn’t be ignored. 

While some people would definitely be glad of this move made by the police for ensuring the safety and security of the public, there are some fans that are unhappy with this decision by Rolling Loud. Some people tweeted in response to Mr. Cherif and said that the letter sent to them by the Police Department was just a request. A more appropriate response would have been to ask the Police to do their job. The fans went on as far ahead as to say that there were numerous other artists scheduled to perform at the festival who are affiliated with gangs, which meant that the law enforcement officials were ill-informed. 

Mr. Cherif said that people had only seen the letter and had no idea what had happened behind closed doors. He stated that a lot of things had been said, but they didn’t have any other choice but to comply. If they wouldn’t do so, they will not be able to return to New York in the future, which would undoubtedly be a problem and not something anyone wanted to happen. The Rolling Loud festival is scheduled for this weekend at Citi Field.  

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