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NYPD Commissioner Labels Rappers “Thugs” After Shooting At T.I. Show

Following the tragic events at T.I.’s concert at the Irving Plaza, the NYPD Commissioner showed little sympathy for the artists involved, or for the hip-hop industry as a whole. The show was called off yesterday after an unknown gunman opened fire in the backstage area, resulting in one fatality and three injured people – including the rapper Troye Ave.

Commissioner William Bratton appeared on WCBS 880 radio on Thursday morning, during which he commented on the events of the previous evening. “The crazy world of these so-called rap artists who are basically thugs, that basically celebrate violence they did all their lives, and unfortunately that violence oftentimes manifests itself during their performances and that’s exactly what happened last evening,” he said. “The background of a lot of these young people, they are significant artists in that world … but unfortunately the lifestyles that they lived … oftentime follows them into the entertainment

As yet, the “so-called rap artists” have yet to respond to Bratton’s somewhat generalised comments. The Commissioner also held his position during the 90’s and was asked in the same interview to compare his previous stint to today. He responded that “this world has not reformed,” adding, “It’s unfortunate. You’d like to think that with all the wealth that comes from the fame, that they’ll be able to turn their lives around but they continue hanging out with the same people they hung out with when they came out of that world of desperation, poverty, and crime.”

He went on to further thoughts on rap, and his views on what believes to be a lifestyle inherent in the genre; “There’s no denying that to a lot of people … they enjoy the music, [but] the music unfortunately often times celebrates violence, celebrates degradation of women, celebrates the drug culture and it’s unfortunate that as they get fame and fortune, some of them are not able to ‘get out of the life’.”

Currently it is unclear as to why the shooting took place, though it is reported that the gunman opened fire in the green room area at the Manhattan venue. The three injured parties are believed to be in stable conditions, the fatality has been named as Ronald McPhatter, longtime bodyguard of Troye Ave. In the same interview, Bratton said that “We feel to wrap it up very quickly. We have a pretty good idea of what happened.”

Whether his damning comments on rap were spurred his ideas of what did happen, we don’t know. But Bratton certainly seems to have no sympathy for the industry. Popular music has always been a scapegoat for antisocial actions, nearly every genre has come under fire for glamourising so-called unsavoury tendencies. From promiscuity, loose behaviour and substance abuse, right through to anti-religious or violent behaviour. Bratton’s views are hardly novel, but I don’t believe his role is to pass judgment on rap. Or to pretty much slander the artists in question without giving cause. Because surely this so-called officer of the law knows that defamation is a serious allegation?

Image: Rolling Stone