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Artists associated with gangs dropped from music festival

By Leah Mize

Multiple artists like 22Gz, Casanova, Pop Smoke, and Don Q were dropped from the headlining list of performers at the Rolling Loud music festival after the New York Police Department sent a letter requesting their removal from the lineup. The police expressed their safety concerns if the rappers performed at the event, according to an article published in The New York Times.  

The NYPD said that the rappers have been associated with violent acts across the city and if they were to perform the risk for continued violence would be higher.

 The festival’s owner, Tariq Cherif, publicly announced on Twitter that the dropped musicians would be compensated for their booking fees and given invitations to perform at future festivals. 

Some of the musicians responded via Instagram as Don Q posted a photo and wrote that he loves the city and has never been affiliated with any gang violence or had issues at any of his other performances according to an article from USA Today. Casanova commented on the post saying that the decision hurt. 

Ultimately, the owners of the events owe a duty of care to their patrons to ensure a safe location at all times. Its typical reduction of liability and likely has little to do with the rappers personally, as the owner himself stated that they would be paid the amounts of money they were expecting and given future opportunities to perform at his events. 

While the promoters may lose out on revenue due to people cancelling their tickets in protest, it may have led to a bigger disaster if the event hosts allow the performers to come. These festivals, regardless of how casual the setting, are places of business and the businesses are personally invested in the transactions that take place there. 

The seriousness of the NYPD sending a letter likely impacted the decision to cancel the artists’ appearances. The risk of violence is a serious one and for a populated area such as Citi Field in New York City, it was likely not a risk anyone involved was willing to take.

We don’t have access to the same information that the NYPD did and their internal reasoning for asking for the artists to be dropped and it will likely not be released for a while if at all in the near future. Until we learn otherwise, we can only assume that the NYPD assessed the level of threat and determined that it was high enough to act on it. 

While these artists would not be my first choice to see at a music festival, they still should be allowed to perform as long as their performances will not cause problems, which is a fairly common position to have. 

It is unfortunate that the artists couldn’t have a new audience listen to their music live but the publicity of this event has likely drawn in people who wouldn’t have known about them otherwise. 

I didn’t know of any of the artists involved until researching the story. If I hadn’t needed to research them, I probably wouldn’t know who they were because their prominence as a public figure, at this point in their career, isn’t high enough to gain the same level of press as wider-known figures. 

Sometimes the best publicity for an artist is publicity that on its face doesn’t appear to be explicitly positive in the same way that trying to avoid calling attention to something usually has the opposite impact, in a pop culture phenomenon nicknamed “the Streisand effect.” 

Ultimately, the artists will have more opportunities in the future to perform at events and grow their following and it may turn out that being dropped from Rolling Loud will yield bigger results for them.

Leah Mize can be reached at Leah.mize@spartans.ut.edu

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