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A few words on hip-hop’s bad rap

Illustration: Chris Morris

Violence and hip-hop have a long history together, and the fact that the late-February shooting of a woman outside Area 702 Skatepark in North Las Vegas happened after an 18-and-over hip-hop event brings back a bitter taste for many on the Vegas music scene. Locals still remember then-sheriff Bill Young urging casinos to ban hip-hop events after shootings in 2006, so it’s not difficult to imagine a similar backlash now. In fact, some local musicians claim that quiet discrimination by bars and concert halls never went away, and it certainly won’t get better until venues such as Area 702 stop using the genre as a scapegoat. In their official statement, Area 702 owners threw hip-hop under the bus in an effort to assure its “normal customer base” that the shooting was an isolated incident. It might have been, but not because the show was a private hip-hop event. It was an isolated incident because a few assholes started a fight and someone pulled a gun. This messier explanation may worry a venue that understandably wants to put the incident in the rearview and continue providing a great service to the all-ages community, but until we change the dialogue, we can’t really call ourselves local-music supporters—and hip hop doesn’t stand a chance.


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