Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Shooting at Rick Ross concert is a wound for the entire hip-hop community

Rick Ross performs — not in Fresno — but at the BET Awards in Los Angeles.

Rick Ross came to Fresno on Thursday night, but the concert from hip-hop’s grunting boss of braggadocio is being overshadowed this morning by what happened in the Save Mart Center parking lot after the concert: A man was shot in the leg, suffering non-fatal injuries.

What that gunshot did — besides sending one victim to the hospital and another six to Fresno PD headquarters for question– was call in to question, once again, the place of hip-hop shows in our community.

I knew the response that was coming as soon as I heard the news. You probably did too.

From The Bee’s comment section: “It’s a known fact that shootings, drugs, gangs and rap go hand in hand. This is why rap concerts must be banned.” From ABC30′s Facebook page: “Hip hop sucks. Ban it” and  “No more rap shows at smc.”

To be clear here, I think most of these online-commenting types have as much validity as Rick Ross’ claims to be a drug kingpin. Which is to say, they’re both just people talking. But much like I wrote yesterday about Ross and his hype, if you say it enough, other people start to believe it.

A chunk of Fresno — mainly its authorities and  more conservative voices — has never been kind to hip-hop shows. I’ve heard plenty of tales over the years from promoters and artists who get extra run-around when trying to book on rap shows. Why? Because Thursday night happens every few years and it makes it harder for good, upstanding people to see a show.

You can’t point your finger at Rick Ross for this. Or the Save Mart Center. Sure, you could make the case that Ross’ music promotes a certain criminal element, but it also promotes driving Maybachs and we didn’t hear reports of 2,000 of those in the parking lot last night. Ultimately, the responsibility falls on people. People need to learn how to behave, how to not ruin things for others. People need to remember this is entertainment, not the place to handle your beefs.

Unfortunately, these violent events are what people point at when there’s worry about having hip-hop shows in Fresno. Not the times that Jay-Z and Drake and Wiz Khalifa came to Save Mart Center and nobody got shot, maimed  or stabbed. As the saying goes: It only takes one person to ruin a good time. Or, in this case, one show.

(For what it’s worth: There hasn’t been an official response from Save Mart Center yet, so all the end-of-hip-hop-shows-at-Save-Mart-Center talk is premature — but this does happen after a period of time in which the Save Mart Center had ramped up its hip-hop offerings.)

I’ve been a staunch advocate for hip-hop in my 10 years in Fresno. But it gets harder to do that every time something like this happens. You can tell people that rap music isn’t just one style, one demographic and one attitude — just like the rock music umbrella includes indie rock, punk rock, heavy metal and whatever Nickelback is. But what sticks in their mind instead: “Remember that time a guy got shot outside of that hip-hop concert at Save Mart Center?”

In a few years, people might not even remember that it was a Rick Ross concert. It’ll just be “that hip-hop concert.” That means it’s a cross that the hip-hop community in Fresno has to carry. It’s something that every artist and promoter who wants to have a hip-hop concert in Fresno is going to have to deal with — whether they’re trying to convince a venue owner or manager to book at show, or just trying to change some of the stereotypes about hip-hop as a whole.

If you doubt me, consider this: A handful of years ago, when there was a shooting at a rap show at a music club in the Tower District, another club canceled a rap show it had scheduled the next week. The canceled show was a Christian rapper from Canada, not exactly the thug element. But that didn’t matter. People see “rap” or “hip-hop” and they have a knee-jerk reaction.

Sometimes it’s an unfortunate stereotype. But sometimes, like Thursday night in the Save Mart Center parking lot, those unfortunate stereotypes get validated in a sad and frustrating way.

Responses to "Shooting at Rick Ross concert is a wound for the entire hip-hop community"

ed says:

“whatever Nickelback is” classic.

ed says:

also, how dare you besmirch that canadian christian rap thug! all of his street cred is now gone.

btw, mike, good piece. the part about how it will be generalized as “that hip hop concert” reminds me of a recent post on gawker where the author was calling out people for calling black singers rappers just because they were nonwhite and did urban music. in the comments, someone wrote, “Well then we’re going to have to go back to calling them “n—ers” then, because let’s face it – that’s exactly what “rapper” means.” (i edited that one word, but you all know it.) for a lot of fresno, “it’s going to be, remember what happened at that rap show? that’s just how THOSE people are,” which is extremely unfortunate because it’s untrue, and many rap shows in fresno go off without any issue at all.

Beth says:

Be interesting to see a list of all the concert shootings in Fresno in the last 20? 40? years to get some perspective on whether it is people attracted to a certain type of music or if it’s just the kind of thing that happens when you get a lot of people of all kinds together in one place.

Stephen says:

I like Beth’s idea.

The argument against you, Mike, is that hip-hop/rap shows clearly have a higher propensity for violence. The shows themselves may not trigger violence, but they become the ‘attracting nuisance.’ Venue promoters throughout Fresno know two things about these shows: They bring in good money and big spenders, and you are almost selling your soul to bring them in, because it’s a virtual guarantee violence will follow.

It’s very tough for the old-school hip-hop promoters, because they have to convince people their shows don’t bring much in the way of violence. I’ve never seen violence at a Grouch show, but how much of that is because of the upped security the venues insist upon? I’ve never seen a fight at a Fashawn gig, but everyone who comes through those doors is patted down.

Hip Hop is heavily associated with marijuana use, which is great – mellows people out. But it’s also associated with heavy drinking, which is great for bar sales, but sucks for potential violence.

It’s a very fine line, but hippity hop clubs have more violence, hip hop and rap shows have more violence, and yet both bring in much moolah for promoters and venues. Save Mart took their chances and I’m certain searched at the doors, but you can’t search every vehicle.

Of course that didn’t stop the near-riot at Babylon when the artists from different area codes went at it full-bore onstage and the fighting swept over the crowd.

You have been a wonderful advocate for the art, Mike, but you simply can’t deny the higher percentages of violent outbreaks at these shows, be they rap, hip-hop, old school or Rick Ross joints. It’s just the nature of the crowd-beast.

mark shultz says:

Oz…make no mistake:

“Sometimes it’s an unfortunate stereotype. But sometimes, like Thursday night in the Save Mart Center parking lot, those unfortunate stereotypes get validated in a sad and frustrating way.”

It is a culture of violence, drugs, alcohol, criminality, disrespect for society, laws and common decency, especially towards women. Weapons and their illegal use is a sign of power, and bragging rights. Give an idiot a gun and he will use it.

We can’t legally run these criminals out of town, but we can shut down their venues…no more rap, hip-hop, and their brand of profane entertainment in the SaveMart Center…ever.

ed says:

country music has a lot of promotion of alcohol abuse, carousing, infidelity, and yes, violence. let’s ban that from smc, too.

Alison says:

Wasn’t there a stabbing at Christmas Tree Lane last year? I propose a city wide ban on Christmas lights. We all know the element of people that those attract.

JW says:

That stabbing was gang related. The do’er was not there for the lights, more likely just being in a crows and waiting for an opportunity. Rap is the soundtrack of the gangster life.

JW says:

crowd, not crows.

Ron Weber says:

First, good piece Mike. I am glad you brought this to the forefront. I have been involved in the “world of crime” for the past 30 years as a police officer, investigator, criminology instructor and attorney. I have dealt with many types of crimes and individuals that have committed these crimes and those that are victims of these crimes. One thing that our system seems to forget is that, in the end, the person who committed the crime is responsible for the crime. There are arguments re: upbring, environment, associations, DNA, Twinkies (had to throw that in) etc. etc. on and on to ad nauseum. However, often, the person responsible for the crime itself is left out. I have a problem placing blame on outside factors. I am sure if a study was done people have been shot at rock concerts (even the performers themselves) country concerts, operas, classical mucic concerts on and on. People have been shot at movies, and even churches. To blame these factors is ridiculous. I remember listening to Ozzy Osbourne as a teen. People said he made people commit suicide and other violent acts. I called BS and still do. This concert did not CAUSE this person to shoot the other person. The actions of the shooter caused it. If we were to eliminate everything that results in violence, there would be nothing left. I recall many years ago a man was shot outside Fashion Fair during the holiday season. Did we shut down fashion Fair and cancel Christmas???? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. People commit acts regardless of where they are and the event surrounding it.

aren hekimian says:

I would comment but there’s a ton of issues that can be looked at from this one disturbing incident.. very sad.

Mike B says:

Sorry but this is a typical Fresno thing that applies to most concerts in the area. I think that people are so starved for good shows, that when they finally get something worth seeing, they dpn’t know how to act.

Bob says:


e.field says:

…I live about a mile (if that) from SaveMart (not far from Fashion Fair)

Heard the shots last night (clearly) and what gets me is a couple of things.

1. There are shots in this area (around State) constantly… (yet) you hardly see anything about it in the media.

Just Sunday AM for the space of about 45 minutes, from the same vicinity there were shots fired back and forth, multiple weapons, multiple participants, ghetto hawk finally flew over… sirens… -but nothing in the media that I could find.
(I just chalk it up to folks not wanting the campus to have a bad name, (and) the desire not to promote ‘gang violence,’ to the public.)

2. The shots last night? (2) shots (fired in slow succession,) followed by at least (6 to 10) in very rapid succession.
I figured, hearing it, another hood-rat whipped out, cut loose a couple of rounds, and the cops took him down… (it almost sounded like suicide by cop.)
-what’s strange? -apparently the cops weren’t involved until after the shooting stopped. (and were clearly not the ‘answer’ rounds being fired.)

It’s just kind of mindblowing how the whole situation (shots and violence in this particular area of the city,) is handled…

(I’m not even going to get into the whole straw-man of ‘’s only hip-hop, it’s only rap, it’s an artform..’
-yeah, okay, an artform that is mostly about dysfunctional behaviors, shooting, drugs, prostitutes, killing, ‘dying needlessly’… (yeah, okay, whatever, people find their entertainment where they choose… and life imitates art imitates life.)

But, what just gets me is:
-for all the shooting that goes on around here, (and there’s tons, I hear shots at night -and during the day, all the time,)
-you never hear ANYTHING about it. (and there is a major TV station right at the end of the block ta boot.)

The college gets listed as being among the dangerous schools in the country (which, surprisingly, Drexel did not make,)
–But CSUF being on the list made sense… bullets are flying all the time here, stuff gets stolen, there’s plenty of assault,
–yet, when that truth is revealed? -all kinds of gerrymandering goes on, until the PR folks can say
‘..see, we’re safe, it was a biased report.’
(right, riiiight… ask anyone who lives in this area.)

What’s truly surprising?
-*at* a Hip-Hop show,
*days after a national report speaking of ‘how violent the campus is’
*days after shooting (again, Sunday AM sounded like a shooting gallery for nearly an hour…)
-THAT the shooting could take place (without) the police being right there? -as it went down?- You’re kidding… right?

Again, the first two shots were not rapid, -and the response volleys most definitely were semi-automatic…

(yet,) whole situation is still some great mystery…

I’m further convinced the *only* reason why it’s being put up in the media is -because-
*the recent ranking (for school violence,)
*and* this tired hobby-horse of ‘what kind of element is Rap,’
happened to coincide.

Were these two factors -not- in play?
The shootings would be as non-reported as 99.9% of the shootings around the college are…

Debi says:

I’m curious how many people went to this show? If it was at the SMC there must be plenty of support or they wouldn’t be here.

And like e.fields stated, violence goes on everyday, what makes this any different than any other day. Slow news day? Need readership boost? What?

Robert says:

The death of RAP. Film at eleven.

Michael says:

Fresno, stop banning stuff!

mario says:

Mainstream rap talks about only sex vio lence and money that is what the record labels want but banning hip hop is ridiculous thier
is concious hip hop like common and the roots that have a strong

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