The organizers of hip hop festival Rolling Loud dropped five artists from their New York installment this past weekend after receiving a letter from the police.
The New York Times reported that 22Gz, Casanova, Pop Smoke, Sheff G and Don Q were struck from the festival that was held in Queens from October 12 to 13. The rappers’ performances were canceled after the New York Police Department (NYPD) sent the organizers a letter, citing “public safety concerns” over the rappers’ inclusion on the line-up.
22Gz, Casanova, Pop Smoke, Sheff G and Don Q all hail from New York. The rappers, who would have performed alongside the likes of Travis Scott, A$AP Rocky and Lil Uzi Vert, “have been affiliated with recent acts of violence citywide,” the NYPD said in its letter, a copy of which was acquired by the FADER. “The New York City Police Department believes if these individuals are allowed to perform, there will be a higher risk of violence.”
— The FADER (@thefader) October 12, 2019
Four of the rappers have responded to the news of their removal. On Instagram, Casanova called the decision “unfair and unfortunate,” writing that “my past, which I’ve dealt with legally and personally, continues to stigmatize me and my career as a recording artist.”
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I JUST WANNA LIVE. My last felony conviction was 2007. I lost everything I ever loved and I’m STILL losing. So much so that “they” won’t allow me to perform at Rolling Loud NYC on Sunday. It’s unfair and unfortunate that my past, which I’ve dealt with legally and personally, continues to stigmatize me and my career as a recording artist. I’m at war with my past and the scars that they still leave on me everyday. I will continue to fight against biases and advocate for those facing this same issue. I’ll do what do what I plan to make it up to y’all. In the meantime, you can catch me on my Behind These Scars tour or another Rolling Loud in the future. Drop a ?? if you’re free from the system and drop a ✊? on behalf of friends and family who aren’t. #BehindTheseScars ALBUM OUT NOW.
On Instagram, Don Q claimed “misinformation” as the reason for his removal, stating that he has “never been in any gang activities or never had issues” at any of his previous shows.
Pop Smoke posted an Instagram video of himself interacting with an energetic crowd at a show, with the caption, “THIS HOW I COULDVE HAD ROLLING LOUD IF THE BOYS WOULD JUST LET N***AS WIN.”
On Twitter, 22Gz apologized to his fans, adding, “They’re holding my [past] against my future, and there’s nothing I can do about it!”
I’m sorry to all of my fans. They’re holding my passed against my future and it’s nothing I can do about it! Free yak
— The General Blixky (@22Gz) October 12, 2019
As the Times reports, each of the five rappers have had encounters with law enforcement. 22Gz—real name Jeffrey Alexander—was charged with murder in Florida in 2017. However, the charges were dropped after police identified another man as the gunman. Casanova—real name Caswell Senior—has served prison time on a robbery charge, while the other three rappers have faced weapons charges.
Rolling Loud founder Tariq Cherif further responded to the situation on Twitter on October 12. “I can’t speak on this much but I want everyone to know that we are still paying all of those artists full booking fees AND sending them offers for future Rolling Louds in other cities,” he wrote.
Thank you my brother. I can’t speak on this much but I want everyone to know that we are still paying all of those artists full booking fees AND sending them offers for future Rolling Loud’s in other cities. https://t.co/HZduF4iXJk
— Tariq (@TariqCherif) October 12, 2019