Tag: hip-hop

Hip-hop artist Bow Wow to retire as he can't see himself rapping aged 30

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Rapper, now 29-years-old started working aged 13, has made $20m and will turn his attention to acting and TV production

Hip-hop artist Bow Wow to retire as he can't see himself rapping aged 30
Rapper Bow Wow has said he will retire from music because it is time for a new adventure. Photograph: Danny Moloshok/Reuters

US rapper Bow Wow has announced he is retiring from music, saying he just doesn’t see himself rapping as a 30-year-old.

Bow Wow, 29, found fame at the age of 13 as Lil’ Bow Wow but has lately been going by his real name, Shad Moss.

He said in a series of posts to Twitter on Sunday and Monday that his final album will be the upcoming “NYLTH”. He did not give a date for the release.

“I always said I’d retire from music before 30,” the musician tweeted. “I just can’t see myself at 30 years old rapping.”

“Made over 20 million off rap. Why be greedy? Im good with everything I accomplished. I made it to the white house,” added the Ohio-born rapper.

As Lil’ Bow Wow, the musician released his first album Beware of the Dog in 2000. He has also launched a career as an actor, appearing in movies such as Madea’s Big Happy Family and the TV crime series CSI:Cyber.

He said on Twitter he planned to focus on acting in the future and is also producing two TV shows.

More than a decade on from his biggest hit (Like You with Ciara in October 2005), news of Moss’ retirement was met with indifference, amusement, and in some cases cruelty on social media.

https://twitter.com/laribeey/status/762380269718532097

Moss did not respond to the Guardian’s question, posed over Twitter: why can’t you be a successful rapper at 30?

But he did appear to have embraced family life.

“Nothing like landing 12 hours later on your way to surprise your daughter at camp and she has no clue,” he tweeted on Monday evening.

At 46, Jay-Z is likely the oldest most successful rapper, though he does seem to be putting more of his energy into business pursuits such as his streaming service, Tidal, than music. Kanye West turns 40 next year.

It’s possible the seed for Moss’ retirement could have been planted by Drake, the hugely popular Canadian rapper, who at 29 is the same age.

Drake rapped in a recent song that he intended to retire before 35.

“The most successful rapper 35 and under/I’m assumin’ everybody’s 35 and under/That’s when I plan to retire, man it’s already funded,” goes the lyric, in Weston Road Flows.

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Notorious anti-Arab Israeli rapper joins PM Netanyahu's Likud party

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The Shadow was sponsored by the equally controversial MP Oren Hazan, who said the rapper is ‘worth five seats’ in parliament

Notorious anti-Arab Israeli rapper joins PM Netanyahu's Likud party
Yoav Eliasi, aka The Shadow, with his Likud sponsor Oren Hazan. Photograph: Amit Shabi

A notorious Israeli rapper known as much for his far-right and violently anti-Arab views as his music has joined the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Yoav Eliasi, known as The Shadow, has called, among other things, for paramedics to harvest the organs of Palestinians killed in attacks on Jews, and helped organise a rally in support of an Israeli soldier on trial for executing a wounded Palestinian.

During the 2014 Gaza war, he organised a violent counter demonstration in response to a leftwing anti-war protest, mobilising a group of hardline followers he dubbed “the Shadow’s lions” to fight “the real enemy among us: the radical left”.

Speaking after joining the party, Eliasi said he would draft his lions into a “Likud guard”.

The equally controversial Likud MP Oren Hazan sponsored Eliasi for membership of the party, boasted that the rapper could bring the party five new seats via his Facebook following, which is 220,000 strong.

Welcoming Eliasi, Hazan said: “The public is fed up with the fawning, cowardly leftist dialogue. Not for nothing does Yoav have a quarter of a million followers on social media networks. We are both free of political correctness.

“I’m not afraid to think of him as someone who is worth perhaps even five seats. There are a lot of [MPs] whom I would replace with Yoav right away.”

Defending his sponsorship of Eliasi, who hinted he might have political ambitions in the future, Hazan said that both were “fed up with the political correctness that has taken over”.

The shotgun marriage between Eliasi and Likud prompted immediate comment, most prominently in an editorial in the left-leaning daily Haaretz, which said his admission proved the moral deterioration of Likud into a party of darkness that gives voice to racism and the radical right.

Current senior members of the party remained largely silent, but the former Likud minister Limor Livnat condemned the move.

“He [Eliasi] said that the Likud is not what it once was and that he will explain to the Likud what the Likud is,” Livnat told Army Radio. “This is a man who posted shocking messages, horrible things, and he will explain to the Likud what the Likud is? I wanted to say with all due respect, but I have no respect.”

Eliasi originally emerged as a major recording artist in Israel in the 1990s, performing with another rapper known as Subliminal, wearing heavy gold stars of David as jewellery and writing songs that sometimes had nationalistic themes.

David Bowie heads Mercury shortlist with his final album, Blackstar

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The singer, who died in January, appears on a list that also recognises the resurgence of UK grime by including Skepta and Kano

David Bowie heads Mercury shortlist with his final album, Blackstar
David Bowie … Recognised for his ‘parting gift’

David Bowie has been honoured with a posthumous place on the Hyundai Mercury prize shortlist for his final album, Blackstar, which was described as a “parting gift” for fans.

The nomination, Bowie’s third – after Heathen in 2002 and The Next Day in 2013 – comes almost seven months after the singer’s death from cancer. He had released Blackstar to the surprise of fans worldwide just two days earlier, to coincide with his 69th birthday.

Blackstar received wide critical acclaim on its release and was described by the Guardian as “ambiguous and spellbinding … a rich, deep and strange album that feels like Bowie moving restlessly forward”. Initially, the album’s mysterious lyrics confounded critics but after news of Bowie’s cancer diagnosis 18 months earlier emerged, songs such as Lazarus – which saw Bowie sing “Look up here / I’m in heaven” – were widely interpreted as the singer saying goodbye.

This year’s shortlist sees the return of several Mercury favourites, as well as first-time nominations for artists such as the 1975, Skepta, Kano and Jamie Woon. Radiohead have picked up their fifth Mercury nomination for A Moon Shaped Pool, making them the most nominated artist in the history of the prize, though they have yet to win.

The inclusion of both Skepta’s Konnichiwa and Kano’s Made in the Manor in the nominations is testimony to the resurgence of grime over the past few years and its move into the mainstream. Dizzee Rascal was the first grime artist to win the Mercury, in 2003 for Boy in da Corner, but the Mercuries have been criticised in recent years for failing to recognise grime artists.

Anohni – formerly known as Antony Hegarty – is also up for a nomination for Hopelessness, her heavily political album, dealing with subjects such as Obama’s drone wars, climate change and Guantanamo Bay. This is her second time among Mercury award nominees, having won the prize back in 2005 before her transition, when she was performing as Antony and the Johnsons.

This is also the third nomination for singer Natasha Khan, known as Bat for Lashes, for her concept album The Bride, which follows the tragic story of a bride on her wedding night whose fiancé then dies in a car crash. Khan, who produced much of the album herself, said The Bride had been “the most emotionally enjoyable and joyful to execute” out of all her albums.

“I feel emotional and overwhelmed and just really flattered to be nominated again,” she said. “This album was a body of work that really took a long time and has been such an event for me that it’s really lovely that it’s been recognised.”

Khan recorded much of the album in upstate New York, down the road from where David Bowie owns a house, and said she had listened to Blackstar while recording The Bride. Speaking about being nominated alongside the singer, Khan said it was “very surreal”.

“I started listening to Bowie songs when I was really small and the fact that his career has spanned for so long that it overlaps with mine is an amazing testament to him and his relevance.” She added: “I absolutely loved that album so I wouldn’t mind at all if I don’t win and he does.”

In a Mercury nominee list noticeably absent of the usual contingent of indie bands, holding up the baton for guitar music is the 1975 for their much lauded, and lengthily titled, second album I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. The follow up to their platinum-selling debut was described by the Guardian as “a collection of fantastic pop songs full of interesting, smart lyrics, but also peppered with self-conscious lunges for gravitas.”

Ladbrokes have named Bowie as favourite to win this year’s prize. Bookies make him 2/1, with Radiohead and Anohni at 5/1.

“Bowie is bound to be the emotional choice for the award, but after last year’s 25/1 surprise in Benjamin Clementine, we’re not ruling out another shock,” Jessica Bridge of Ladbrokes said.

The full shortlist

Anohni – Hopelessness

Bat For Lashes – The Bride

David Bowie – Blackstar

Jamie Woon – Making Time

Kano – Made in the Manor

Laura Mvula – The Dreaming Room

Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate

Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

Savages – Adore Life

Skepta – Konnichiwa

The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It

The Comet Is Coming – Channel the Spirits

Want that Old Thing Back? Notorious BIG lyrics inspire forthcoming TV show

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Think BIG, about a teenager struggling to provide for his two young children, hopes to hypnotize viewers with a script based on the late rapper’s songs

Want that Old Thing Back? Notorious BIG lyrics inspire forthcoming TV show
Notorious BIG: experiencing life after death. Photograph: Everett Collection / Rex Feature

“It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up magazine.” Almost 20 years after his death aged 24, Notorious BIG is still renowned as one of the greatest MCs of all time. Now his lyrical prowess has been confirmed by the BIG news that a new TV show will be made based on his songs.

It’s a juicy prospect, and Variety reports that cable network TBS is developing a show called Think BIG, about an inner-city teenage boy struggling to provide for his two young children – or, as Biggie may have put it: “Take a better stand / Put money in my mom’s hand / Get my daughter this college plan, so she don’t need no man.”

Think BIG will be made in partnership with New York-based media company Mass Appeal, Bystorm films and Voletta Wallace, mother of the Notorious BIG (whose real name was Christopher Wallace). It’s not the first time the rapper’s lyrics have been used to illuminate 21st-century events: on Wednesday, analysts from Credit Suisse used Mo Money, Mo Problems to illustrate the difficulties excessive stimulus has created at the Bank of Japan.

Think BIG is the first of a range of shows the graffiti magazine and record label-turned creative consultancy and media company Mass Appeal will make for TBS. Also on the slate is an animated show called Storyville, which will feature celebrities regaling viewers with 10-minute anecdotes exposing, says Variety, “the absurdity of celebrity life in all its glory”. The show will be broadcast on the network’s festival and social media platforms this fall, but the network has provided a taste in which Questlove discusses his feud with Patti LaBelle.

 

Jay Z and Beyoncé speak out after latest black killings by police

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Rapper releases song, Spiritual, with the lyrics ‘Got my hands in the air / in despair, don’t shoot’, while Beyoncé published statement saying: ‘We don’t need sympathy. We need everyone to respect our lives’

Jay Z and Beyoncé speak out after latest black killings by police
Black power couple … Jay Z and Beyoncé. Photograph: Mason Poole/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment

Jay Z and Beyoncé have both responded to the fatal shootings of two black men by police in the United States – Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Tuesday and Philando Castile in a suburb of St Paul, Minnesota, on Wednesday.

Jay Z has a released a new song called Spiritual on his Tidal streaming site, which is accompanied by a note from the rapper: “I made this song a year or so ago. I never got to finish it. Punch [Terrence Henderson, the co-president of Top Dawg Entertainment] told me I should drop it when Mike Brown died, sadly I told him, ‘This issue will always be relevant.’ I’m hurt that I knew his death wouldn’t be the last. I’m saddened and disappointed in THIS America – we should be further along … Blessings to all the families that have lost loved ones to brutality.”

The note ended with a quote from the 19th-century abolitionist campaigner Frederick Douglass: “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organised conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

The lyrics annotation website genius.com describes the song as one in which “Jay asserts his spirituality in dealing with issues of self-worth facing young black men in America”. The song’s hook is the most direct section to address police violence: “Yeah, I am not poison, no I am not poison / Just a boy from the hood that / Got my hands in the air / In despair, don’t shoot / I just wanna do good, ah.”

Beyoncé, Jay Z’s wife, posted a statement on her website on Thursday – before five police officers were shot dead during a protest in Dallas – which responded angrily to the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

“We don’t need sympathy,” she wrote. “We need everyone to respect our lives … These robberies of lives make us feel helpless and hopeless but we have to believe that we are fighting for the rights of the next generation. This is a fight for anyone who feels marginalised, who is struggling for freedom and human rights … The war on people of colour and all minorities needs to be over.”

The statement concluded with a request for fans to contact their politicians and legislators, and provided links to Congress as well as an invitation to voice protest on behalf of both Sterling and Castile.

https://twitter.com/laurendotwilson/status/751163858786652160

At her concert in Glasgow on Thursday night, she held a moment’s silence and used the giant screens to display the names of victims of police violence.

On Wednesday, another superstar, Drake, had posted an open letter on Instagram about the killing of Sterling, in which he wrote: “It’s impossible to ignore that the relationship between black and brown communities and law enforcement remains as strained as it was decades ago. No one begins their life as a hashtag. Yet the trend of being reduced to one continues.”

Drake publishes open letter in response to Alton Sterling killing by police

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Rapper responds to the death of the 37-year-old black man, shot dead by Louisiana police outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge

Drake publishes open letter in response to Alton Sterling killing by police
‘No one begins their life as a hashtag’ … Drake. Photograph: Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP

Drake has responded to the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling with an open letter commenting on the “strained relationship” between US police and “black and brown communities”.

Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was shot and killed by Louisiana police following a confrontation outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge on 5 July. Mobile phone footage of the shooting emerged, which appeared to show Sterling being shot in the chest from point-blank range after being wrestled to the ground. A second video appeared to show officers removing a gun from Sterling’s pocket, after he had been shot. The Department of Justice is to investigate the killing, which has prompted protests in Baton Rouge.

Drake posted an open letter on Instagram in response to the killing. He wrote:

“I am grateful to be able to call America my second home. Last night when I saw the video of Alton Sterling being killed it left me feeling disheartened, emotional and truly scared. I woke up this morning with a strong need to say something.

It’s impossible to ignore that the relationship between black and brown communities and law enforcement remains as strained as it was decades ago. No one begins their life as a hashtag. Yet the trend of being reduced to one continues.

This is real and I’m concerned. Concerned for the safety of my family, my friends and any human being that could fall victim to this pattern. I do not know the answer. But I believe things can change for the better. Open and honest dialogue is the first step.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Sterling family and any family that has lost someone to this cycle of violence.

Be safe out there. More life.”

Bernie Worrell, Parliament-Funkadelic co-founder, dies aged 72

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Worrell, who announced in early 2016 that he had lung cancer, influenced funk, rock and hip-hop artists

Bernie Worrell, Parliament-Funkadelic co-founder, dies aged 72
Bernie Worrell, who co-founded Parliament-Funkadelic died on Friday, 24 June, 2016. He was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in January 2016. Photograph: Clayton Call/Getty Images

Bernie Worrell, the ingenious “Wizard of Woo” whose amazing array of keyboard sounds and textures helped define the Parliament-Funkadelic musical empire and influenced performers of funk, rock, hip-hop and other genres, has died.

Worrell, who announced in early 2016 that he had stage-four lung cancer, died on Friday at age 72. He died at his home in Everson, Washington, according to his wife, Judie Worrell.

Throughout the 1970s and into the 80s, George Clinton’s dual projects of Parliament and Funkadelic and their various spinoffs built upon the sounds of James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone among others and turned out some of the most complex, spaced out, political, cartoonish and, of course, danceable music of the era, elevating the funk groove to a world view.

With a core group featuring Worrell, guitarist Eddie Hazel and bassist Bootsy Collins, P-Funk maintained an exhausting and dazzling pace of recordings, from the hit singles Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker) and Flash Light to such albums as One Nation Under a Groove and Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome. The studio music was just a starting point for the live shows, costumed spectaculars of wide-brimmed hats, war paint, dashikis, military gear or perhaps a white sheet with only a fig leaf underneath.

Worrell was among the first musicians to use a Moog synthesizer, and his mastery brought comparisons to Jimi Hendrix’s innovations on guitar. Anything seemed possible when he was on keyboards, conjuring squiggles, squirts, stutters and hiccups on Parliament’s Flash Light that sounded like funk as if conceived by Martians. On Funkadelic’s Atmosphere, his chatty organ prelude, like a mash-up of Bach and The Munsters, set up some of Clinton’s more unprintable lyrics.

Worrell’s contributions as a keyboardist, writer and arranger didn’t bring him a lot of money, the source of much legal action and fierce criticism of Clinton, but fellow musicians paid attention. He played with Talking Heads for much of the 1980s and was featured in their acclaimed concert documentary Stop Making Sense. Worrell also contributed to albums by Keith Richards, Yoko Ono, Nona Hendryx, Manu Dibango and the Pretenders. In 2015, he was a member of Meryl Streep’s backing group in the movie Ricki and the Flash.

“Kindness comes off that man like stardust,” Streep said during a 2016 benefit concert for Worrell at Manhattan’s Webster Hall.

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Meanwhile, he toured frequently on his own and released such solo records as Funk of Ages and Blacktronic Science and most recently Retrospectives. His other credits ranged from co-writing the soundtrack for the 1994 film Car 54, Where are You?, based on the old TV sitcom, to his brief membership in Paul Shaffer’s band on Late Show with David Letterman.

In 1997, Worrell, Clinton and more than a dozen other P-Funk members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

A native of Long Branch, New Jersey, he was a musician virtually from the time he could speak, trained to play piano at age three and giving public performances by age 10 with the Washington Symphony Orchestra. While at the New England Conservatory, in Boston, he became interested in synthesizers through listening to a group not otherwise known for its contributions to funk, the British progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

Worrell met Clinton in the early 1970s and performed with him off and on through the following decades even as P-Funk had imploded by 1980 amid reports of drug abuse and unpaid royalties. He would remember P-Funk’s prime as stressful, “circuslike”, but worth it once the music began.

“When the band wasn’t getting into arguments and fooling around, it was OK,” he said. “There were family things that came up. A group that size, and everybody’s living together, it’s just like family. After they’d go through their antics and settle down with whatever was going on, I’d come in and crack the whip. ‘All right, let’s do Flash Light.’”

Troy Ave indicted on attempted murder charge after shooting at TI concert

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The 33-year-old rapper also faces four counts of criminal possession of a weapon over incident at New York City’s Irving Plaza that left his bodyguard dead

Troy Ave indicted on attempted murder charge after shooting at TI concert
Prosecutors claim Troy Ave ‘recklessly fired a gun five times in a crowded venue’ during the concert at Irving Plaza on 25 May. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

The 33-year-old rapper Troy Ave – real name Roland Collins – has avoided a murder charge but has been indicted on five other felonies after a deadly shooting at a New York rap show in May.

The New York Daily News reported that the rapper was indicted on four counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of attempted murder after prosecutors claimed he “recklessly fired a gun five times in a crowded venue” at a concert by rapper and actor TI at Irving Plaza on 25 May.

The incident left Troy Ave’s bodyguard Ronald McPhatter dead, with other reports that Troy Ave allegedly shot himself in the leg. Troy Ave pleaded not guilty to attempted murder in May.

Video shot inside the venue showed concertgoers rushing to leave the VIP area – where the incident took place – as a group of people tended to a person on the floor.

Johnny Wilkins, who was in the green room, told the Daily News: “It was a fight over a push, it was some bullshit. It was like 50 or 60 people in the VIP room. It was crazy. It’s crazy more people didn’t get shot.”

Troy Ave’s lawyer, Scott Leemon, claimed that the clips released by the New York police department do not tell the full story.

“Nothing in this indictment is a surprise or new. It’s the same wrong story that NYPD has been trying to portray. The released video does not show everything nor explain what happened in the VIP room before Troy came running out, as a victim, after he was shot,” he said.

The NYPD commissioner, William Bratton, blamed rap culture for the shootings. “The crazy world of these so-called rap artists basically celebrates the violence,” Bratton stated. “Unfortunately, that violence sometimes manifests itself in their performances and that’s exactly what happened last evening.”

He was criticised after making the statements, with Erik Nielson, an assistant professor at the University of Richmond who studies hip-hop, saying Bratton’s comments were “antiquated”.

“It is really rooted in a pretty basic misunderstanding of the genre and it feels intended to place the blame on an artistic and cultural movement, rather than on systemic forces that, frankly, the NYPD has had a significant role in perpetuating,” Nielson added.

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Kanye West releases Only One game trailer at E3 event

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Kanye West and fashion designer’s late mother ascends to heaven in first official trailer, which debuted at a Sony press conference in Los Angeles

Kanye West releases Only One game trailer at E3 event
Kanye West performs at in Madison Square Park in 2015 as part of his Season 3 show for his Yeezy fashion line. Photograph: James Devaney/GC Images

Those who paid witness to the Kanye West’s extravagant New York album and fashion launch in February would have been struck by a surreal intermission: when the rapper unveiled a preview of his own console game. Its trailer, which pays homage to his late mother, has now appeared.

The Only One video, after his song of the same name, debuted at Sony’s E3 2016 press event in Los Angeles on Monday. It features an animation of the Chicago rapper’s late mother Donda West, who rides on the back of a winged white horse that is galloping through the clouds towards heaven.

Those playing the game will assume the role of “Kanye’s mom, Donda, [who is] flying through the gates of heaven,” according to the film and animation studio Encyclopedia Pictura.

West’s game was directed by Isaiah Saxon and Sean Hellfritsch of Encyclopedia Pictura, who have made videos for artists such as Panda Bear, Grizzly Bear and Björk. It has been in production since 2015.

Further details regarding the game and its release have not been announced. West joins a long line of musicians who have dabbled in the world of gaming, from Wu-Tang Clan’s multiplayer fighting game Shaolin Style in 1999 to Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker game for Sega in the early 90s.

Rapper Troy Ave pleads not guilty to attempted murder following TI show shooting

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Charges for artist AKA Roland Collins could be upgraded to murder after ballistics test, as prosecutors claim he ‘recklessly fired a gun five times in a crowded venue’

Rapper Troy Ave pleads not guilty to attempted murder following TI show shooting
A New York Police Department crime scene unit is seen outside Irving Plaza on 26 May. Photograph: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Rapper Troy Ave, who was charged after a deadly shooting at a New York City concert hall, has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder.

The artist, real name Roland Collins, was called before the court on Monday following the shooting during which one person was killed and three others wounded. The Daily News reports that Collins, who was one of the injured, was arraigned on charges including attempted murder. Rapper TI, who was set to headline the show but had not yet taken to the stage, was not involved in the shooting and was unharmed, the newspaper also states.

After ballistics tests, the charges could be upgraded to include murder.

Prosecutors say Collins “recklessly fired a gun five times in a crowded venue” with no concern about the consequences.

Defence attorney Scott Leemon says 30-year-old Ronald McPhatter, one of Collins’s bodyguards who died in the shooting, wasn’t shot by Collins. Prosecutors say Collins shot himself in the leg with his own 9mm, while Leemon claims the bullet came from another person.

“He didn’t shoot himself, he didn’t shoot his lifelong friend and bodyguard, Ronald McPhatter,” Leemon told AllHipHop.com. “Ronald died a hero and should be remembered that way. The snippet of the video released by NYPD doesn’t tell the whole story.”

Following the incident on 25 May, The New York Daily News reported that an employee of the venue said the shooting was the result of “a beef between two rival crews”, associated with different rappers who had credentials to get into the green room.

A separate witness who was in the green room, Johnny Wilkins, told the Daily News: “It was a fight over a push, it was some bullshit. It was like 50 or 60 people in the VIP room. It was crazy. It’s crazy more people didn’t get shot.”

Police left open the possibility that a revolver was also fired. Troy Ave has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held without bail.

Rap artists bristle at 'antiquated' NYPD comments about concert shooting

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The police commissioner blamed rap for a fatal shooting outside a TI concert – the sort of crime the ‘hip-hop squad’ would have been deployed to in the 90s

Rap artists bristle at 'antiquated' NYPD comments about concert shooting
Irving Plaza, where one person was killed and three others injured during a show to be headlined by rapper TI on Wednesday night. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

New York is the home of hip-hop, one of the most dominant cultural movements in America, but the head of the city’s police department has blamed rap music for a fatal shooting, sparking outrage from scholars and artists.

Crown Heights rapper Troy Ave has been charged with attempted murder for his role in a shooting at a TI concert in Manhattan on Wednesday night that left one person dead and three others injured, including the 30-year-old rapper, also known as Roland Collins.

The morning after the shooting at Irving Plaza, the NYPD commissioner, William Bratton, told the radio station WCBS-AM that rap lyrics, and the people who perform them, are responsible for violence in the industry.

“The crazy world of these so-called rap artists basically celebrates the violence,” Bratton said. “Unfortunately, that violence sometimes manifests itself in their performances and that’s exactly what happened last evening.”

Erik Nielson, an assistant professor at the University of Richmond who studies hip-hop, said Bratton’s comments were “antiquated”.

“It is really rooted in a pretty basic misunderstanding of the genre and it feels intended to place the blame on an artistic and cultural movement, rather than on systemic forces that, frankly, the NYPD has had a significant role in perpetuating,” Nielson said. He added that the NYPD is part of a broader institutional structure that has disenfranchised communities of color in the city.

The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program notoriously targeted communities of color, as did the “broken windows” policing theory, pioneered by Bratton in his first run as NYPD commissioner from 1994 to 1996. There is also the department’s involvement in the deaths of unarmed black men.

In the past, the police department has specifically targeted the hip-hop scene, which was born in the south Bronx in the 1970s. The NYPD ran a special hip-hop intelligence unit for several years in the late 1990s to the early 2000s to monitor crimes in the community.

But the scholars and artists themselves contest the NYPD’s assumption that rap is more dangerous than any other genre of music.

“Go ask emergency room doctors, which they think are more dangerous, rap or EDM concerts?” Nielson said, referring to the drug deaths at electronic dance music festivals. “The answer will not be rap concerts.”

In fact, Nielson said, hip-hop culture was an outlet for those communities disproportionately affected by poverty and violence.

“In the 1970s, New York was overrun with violent street gangs, no matter what politicians did, no matter what the police did, the gangs remained pervasive and endured,” Nielson said. “Then came hip-hop,” which he said helped rescue community members.

TI, the headliner for Wednesday night’s show who didn’t get to perform, emphasized the importance of rap music while offering his condolences on Instagram to the victim’s family and those injured in the shooting.

“My heart is heavy today,” he said. “Our music is intended to save lives, like it has mine and many others.”

The hip-hop squad

The NYPD said Wednesday night’s shooting began outside a green room sparked by a dispute.

Ronald McPhatter, 33, was killed in the shooting and Collins was injured along with Christopher Vinson, 24, and Maggie Heckstall, 26.

This is the sort of crime the NYPD’s since-disbanded hip-hop intelligence unit would have been deployed for in the late 1990s and early 2000s, said the creator of the unit, Derrick Parker, a 20-year veteran of the NYPD.

Parker said the NYPD’s rap unit – known as the “hip-hop taskforce”, “hip-hop squad” and “rap intelligence unit” – was formed in 1999, sparked by a rise in violence in the hip-hop community. Before the unit was made official, Parker was the NYPD’s go-to for incidents that involved rap artists, like when Brooklyn-born rapper Notorious BIG was killed in Los Angeles in 1997.

Questions have been raised about whether the hip-hop taskforce was guilty of profiling and unfairly surveilling communities of color, which Parker disputes. “I don’t see it as profiling, I think it’s more or less, knowing a little about people who had violent tendencies in this community,” Parker said.

The NYPD, meanwhile, has never confirmed that the unit existed, though it said in 2004 that it had detectives who monitor the music industry after the Miami Herald reported that its police consulted the NYPD about rap violence.

Police would closely monitor those on the list when they made nightclub appearances or had concerts in the city, according to the Post’s anonymously sourced report. “The other part of it is, there’s a lot of really street-leaning gangster guys on the fringes of the industry … The police taskforce keeps tabs on who is around certain rappers and what movements they are going through,” one source said.

Parker said the rap surveillance unit has since been disbanded, though there are still officers monitoring shows and club nights. In 2014, the New York Post reported that the NYPD had a special watch-list of hip-hop artists including Drake, Chris Brown and Lil Wayne.

The New York police department did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“I’m not trying to blame anyone else, but the management for Irving Plaza dropped the ball on this,” said Parker, who now works as a security consultant. “It looks like they were not prepared to deal with this, especially with the magnitude of the rappers they had.”

Live Nation did not respond to a request for comment and Irving Plaza said it was referring all inquiries to the NYPD.

Despite the alleged lapses in security at the venue, Bratton lamented that it was “the backgrounds of some of these people, unfortunately the lifestyles they led or had” that were more to blame.

“No question a lot of talented artists, enjoy the music,” Bratton said. “Music all too often celebrates violence, degradation of women and the drug culture. It’s unfortunate that some of them, as they get fame and fortune, cannot get out of the life.”

Daryl McDaniels, the DMC of Run-DMC, told the New York Daily News that Bratton “should have known better” than to pin the shooting on rap music.

“Violence is everywhere,” McDaniels said. “It existed long before rappers started portraying it in their music.”

McDaniels added that some artists need to take responsibility for violence in the community. McDaniels’s friend and fellow Run DMC member, Jason Mizell, also known as DJ Jam Master Jay, was shot and killed at a Queens music studio in 2002. The NYPD has not solved the murder.

“When we see the violence in our community, we’ve got to keep saying it’s wrong, it’s wrong, it’s wrong,” McDaniels said.