This spring, the Toronto hip-hop scene was met with violence when a man was gunned down at a Young Jeezy show. Now, the city's rap lovers have been dealt another blow, as a hip-hop showcase at NXNE has been cancelled due to concerns of gang violence.
The gig was scheduled to take place last night (June 14) at the Rivoli, and was to feature headliner Rich Kidd along with Denzil Porter, Tre Nyce, the Anitheroes, T.Shirt, Notes to Self, Smash Brovaz, the Upper Classmen and Vader the Villin & Moses.
In a Facebook post made just hours before the event, however, promoter SmashMouth Entertainment wrote, "Due to unforeseen circumstances, and at the request of the Toronto Police and the Toronto Gang Unit, we regret to announce that our NXNE 'SmashMouth Mentality' showcase scheduled for June 13 at Rivoli has been cancelled."
SmashMouth subsequently tweeted, "unfortunately people are still stereotyping a misunderstood culture #HopHop."
The company's Brenden Hewko told Spinner that the Toronto police believed that artists on the bill had potential gang affiliations and that the risk of rivalry and violence meant that the event need to be shut down.
Tweets from some of the artists indicate that at least some of them ended up finding their way to the Crawford to perform, and Denzil Porter wrote, "I'm heading to the Crawford. On 718 college street. Heard there gonna let me rock real quick. Pass through by 11."
But even if they ended up having a fun time after all, there's no question that last night was letdown for those hoping to catch the showcase.
UPDATE: Following the NXNE cancellation, Rich Kidd offered the following statement to Exclaim!, "It's unfortunate that the event was shut down but I think it's even more unfortunate how hip-hop is stereotyped. I feel last night could of been a dope, positive showcase of Canadian talent. A lot of the artists on the bill including myself are involved in community programs such as the Remix Project and the Loft Sound Studio that deter that kind of shit. Even though the past few weeks in Toronto have been crazy, we MC's are here to spread that love and have fun."
UPDATE 2: The Rivoli has now offered the following statement about the incident. You can read it in full below.
The Rivoli, in consultation with NXNE and Toronto Police, cancelled Wednesday night's showcase in the interest of the safety and security of our customers and staff.
Earlier that afternoon, mere hours before the show, an officer from the Toronto Police Force Guns and Gangs Task Force visited our premises. He spoke to one of the owners and indicated that the Police had very real concerns regarding possible serious violence during the show slated for that night. Without naming names, he informed us that certain band members were connected to street gangs and that gun violence had occurred at past performances of some of the bands. It was impressed upon us to greatly increase security measures if the show was to go ahead. The warning and recommendation were given, again, just hours before the event.
This was the first time in the Rivoli's thirty year history that the Police have involved themselves in any way in one of our presentations.
We are the venue for the NXNE showcase and have nothing to do with booking the acts. They are assigned to our space by the Festival. We therefore had no hint of any problem associated with the bands involved.
The necessity for some quick action was impressed upon us by the officer. Due to the extreme nature of the threat and in light of the lack of time to fully consider the security challenge and make necessary arrangements, the general sentiment amongst us, the organizers of NXNE and the police, was that, under the circumstances, cancellation was the best course to follow so as to ensure everybody's safety. We took this measure notwithstanding the financial implications of having the room dark on a potentially very profitable night.
The Rivoli will continue to be a home to all manner of performance. This decision was not taken lightly or in isolation. We regret the inconvenience and disappointment it has caused to the musicians, the fans and our bar tenders who lost their shifts. It was a tough but necessary call.