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.
— TEFLON DON (@rickyrozay) November 30, 2012
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.