Vegas hip-hop: “Impeach the Sheriff”

Jay-Z’s champagne boycott—dubbed Cristal Gate by XXL’s own Eskay—has attracted truckloads of press in the last few weeks. But Hov isn’t the only hip-hop head getting his activist on. [1]

To much less fanfare, the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention (NHHPC) has been fighting its own battle against a Sheriff determined to ban hip-hop.

Vegas activists are set to gather for an event called Impeach the Sheriff on Monday June 26 at the Winchester Park Auditorium at 7pm.

The tension between the Las Vegas Police Department and the hip-hop community has been more than a year in the making.

In June of 2005, Sheriff Bill Young wrote a letter to the Gaming Control Board requesting their help in getting casinos to ban gangsta rap shows. His letter followed the May murders of Kansas City rapper Fat Tone and local rapper Mr. Looks, as well as a shooting after a Nelly/Fat Joe concert. Sheriff Young claimed that hip-hop had become a public safety issue.

Then, on February 1, 2006, an aspiring rapper named Trajik (Amir Crump) of Desert Mobb got into a shoot-out with police after they responded to a domestic abuse call. Sergeant Henry Prendes was killed and Trajik was also shot to death. Sheriff Young (who was expected to campaign for re-election) subsequently stepped up his efforts to get hip-hop banned in Las Vegas.

The Gaming Control Board came out shortly after this and warned all hotels and casinos that they would be held legally accountable for any hip-hop-related violence that occurred on their premises. “There have been numerous incidents of violence before, during and after several gangster rap concerts, not just in Las Vegas, but nationally, as well,” the memo said. “The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department considers these events as serious threats to the community.”

Initially the hotels and casinos opted against banning hip-hop, but it looks like they may be starting to cave to pressure. (A Snoop Dogg concert was cancelled at Rio Hotel in late March.)

The Regents at University of Las Vegas Nevada also recently attempted to ban hip-hop shows on campus, although the motion was not passed as it was found to be unconstitutional.

J. Michael Carr Jr., President of A New Way Media, a Vegas grassroots media company, says that local live venues have been refusing to host hip-hop events, despite the fact that the City of Las Vegas has not ratified this policy officially. Carr recently had to get the American Civil Liberties Union involved in order to obtain a venue for an underground hip-hop event.

“The demographics of Las Vegas have changed over the past ten or fifteen years,” Carr explains. “No longer is it a retirement community. We have a lot of young people moving here, a lot of black and brown people. And the [Vegas residents] are scared. The Sheriff is playing to his Republican base and to their fears and anxieties.”

Carr believes that hip-hop is being misrepresented and that the Sheriff’s attempts to ban the music constitute a free speech issue. “If this can happen in Las Vegas—the entertainment capital of the world—it can surely happen in small rural areas,” he says.

Troy Buckner-Nkrumah, a lawyer that serves as Internal Chair for the National Hip-Hop Convention (NHHPC), and an organizer of the Las Vegas chapter, agrees that the Sheriff’s concerns about hip-hop are not warranted.

“The Sheriff’s position is that hip-hop brings out a crowd that is going to get violent—that they are gang-affiliated and that they are going to fight with one another,” he explains. “When asked ‘OK, well, where has this happened at?’ he has no shows to talk about. He just starts talking about what happens after the shows. And so the Nelly incident is something that happened after the Nelly concert, off the grounds of the venue. I think people were in the parking lot, so that was enough to connect it with the show and hip-hop. When I did an interview debate with the Sheriff, I raised the issue of: ‘How do you know it wasn’t the alcohol that did it? Alcohol is responsible for more people in jail on violent crimes than hip-hop ever has been, but you’re not trying to ban alcohol.’”

“It’s proof that they’re just using this,” Buckner-Nkrumah continues. “There’s fights and violence at all kinds of events, not just hip-hop shows. Boxing matches, rock shows, punk shows. But it’s hip-hop that’s being attacked.”

“The constitution is clear that you cannot limit music or art based on its content,” he adds. “And that’s exactly what they are trying to do.”

Andreas Hale, editor-in-chief of Hip-Hop DX, a Vegas-based hip-hop website, and a member of the NHHPC Vegas Chapter, says that the Sheriff is drawing a false link between the Trajik incident and hip-hop culture. “Anyone can be an aspiring whatever,” Hale says. “I could be an aspiring grocer, but if I kill a cop is it ‘Aspiring Grocer Kills Cop’? No. But because of some of the negative stereotypes that are affiliated with hip-hop, they put the two together and they think that hip-hop breeds violence.”

“I think they have been wanting to stop hip-hop events for a long time, ” he adds. “But they needed an excuse. And they finally got one.”

Carr, Hale, and Buckner-Nkrumah maintain that the Sheriff has refused numerous invitations to meet with the hip-hop community.

Sheriff Young announced to the press last month that he will not be seeking re-election. He declined to be interviewed for this column.

Buckner-Nkrumah views the Sheriff’s decision not to run as a victory for hip-hop activists. “We showed the urban youth out here that you can stand up to authority, and that you do have rights,” he explains.

“If you look at our next event, you will see that we kept the title the same: Impeach the Sheriff,” he adds. “We don’t necessarily mean the Sheriff who is in office now, but any Sheriff that tries to deny us of our civil rights and culture.”


[1] Extremely bummed to be missing Jay’s show tonight, it’s true.

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  • gees dat dude

    this is just what can be expected from local governments and those outside of our communities. with violence ever increasing among african american, and other minority youth the link between violence and hip hop is unavoidable. The violent drug culture that hip hop artist choose to glorify in our music only makes matters worse. the days of rappers using the excuse that this is reality, it happens every day, were just documenting what goes on in our community are long gone now. I’m sorry to say that it is no longer documentaion its simply a glorification of the ongoing destrucion of black and other poor minority communties from the inside out. I really think that it is time for the hip hop community to seriously address the issue of content and take a look inside of itself and ask the question why do people outside of the hip hop community feel this way, and when they do make attempts at banning shows and events ect. why are they more often than not taken seriously. i m in no way saying that the sheriff was right in attempting to take such actions but the correlation between violence and hip hop is there for everyone outside of our community to see. and it is not at all uncommon for violent incidents to take place at our shows and venues. so before we go into blaming everybody else for trying to ban hip hop shows and other hip hop related events i believe we must take into consideration the images and stereotypes we project to those outside of our community.

  • troy

    The first comment seems to forget one thing… there is not a correlation between hip hop and voilence, however there is a correlation between American Society and Voilence. Hip Hop heads are no more violent that any other sector of American society. Hip hop heads don’t blow up Federal Buildings, don’t shoot up post-offices, don’t start violent wars in other countries, nor enslave and steal land. This country was born and raised and is maintained on violence, so lets not confuse that with being a product of hip hop. I have travelled around the world and been to hip hop shows in Africa, Cuba, Brazil, Europe. I have been to country where the societys are not violence based, as in the united states… and guess what… I never seen any violence at hip hop shows in those places… So instead of looking inside hip hop, lets look inside America.. TV, NEWS, MOVIES and yes MUSIC, and lets be critical of society and lets change society… then hip hop will change automatically. Until then, your just scapegoating without a critical analysis of the real problem.
    TROY NKRUMAH (from the article above). come out July 20th, and get involved with the movement!!!!

  • Priest $ Pepone

    Selah simag, this is Priest the Desert Pope ak47 Mayorial Skrill, and I would like to thank you for finally speaking up on a crisis, that’s just adding fuel to a hot ass city. Now in the future I hope we’ll do good business, and I did have to set you guys straight first, before the attention was garned but better late than never, now lets work on getting to the bottom of the solution. Most people out here know where to start but don’t know where to finish. The War is not against the Sheriff and they need to know that, The Red Tape that surrounds the politics in the Desert exceeds rap by 90%. They just murdered a 17year old in cold blood, while he was cuffed and while he was walking away, and that was justified and he didn’t have one song recorded. Selah simag Selahv IMOBILARE

  • Tyler

    Hey dawgs, it’s sad but true. Niggas got 2 be more careful if they want to keep hip hop in the game. It ain’t right what they are tryin’ 2 do but we all know ‘dat niggas come out get around each other & then think it’s their chance 2 wild out. We got 2 look out for one another or else. The people in Power are lookin’ for anyway they can 2 get Rock&Roll 2 take back over, which is why I keep sayin’2 the world the new sound UrbanRock is ’bout 2 take over everything.

  • http://A.I. Dominic Ian Nieto

    I’m not even caring or gonna look for help. This country is so helpless I wish this motherfuckers would start a war with me ill have you pussy motherfuckers looking like Iran when it got hit oh but nobody knows about that huh. Motherfuckers I got your number your Bret Brading and he’s shit yeah I did that and I also have that wire info flying from here to singapore. Aye I’m Dom if you knew how many times I’ve died and came back just take a good look. You think I did damage in New Orleans wait until I show you my left hand.

  • http://A.I. Dominic Ian Nieto

    Did you erase my shit aye you fucking badge carrying crabs aint getting away from me I’ve been kicking your asses from when you pigs was banging crip in LA to the streets you try to shoot me to death on and cover it up. I know your scared makes you wonder how some one can be dead for an unknown amount of time and have your blood on his hands and mouth when he wakes up. I don’t need my Denver general files anymore I know now what I’m capable of so much for erasing memories. I’m here to collect Dom taking you where you belong.

  • http://A.I. Dominic Ian Nieto

    Just one more thing I know you would not believe any of this that’s the best part. All that’s occurred in the last two years is my work can’t figure out why things have gotten so extreme aint got nothing to do with global warming haha. You couldn’t sell this with a platinum plate three inches thick. Haha can you guess who I am?

  • http://A.I. Dominic Ian Nieto

    I want to say to all those that didn’t understand this struggle to have shows in Las Vegas. Understand I live in Las Vegas and there is people who know what I am and what I’m capable of. These are wars of a power that was considered to be scientist thinking they lost space. Well what happpened is that I opened my arsenal and it aint nothing like anyone has ever known. Your fight may be unconsciecly fought. I also can say to the Heavy Metal community that the blessings of these to music are what signals and frequencies I received and my angels have arms and my fire the jinnis and all that was to be are working harder now because I’m telling them now so you think people dieimg from high rates of heat stroke wake up. I’m Dom the big boom. Tutankhamun. Tunatu. Sun. Twin.

  • BB Jilive

    More evidence that “the sheriff” is correct.

    Another senseless killing spawned by the negative, violent culture known as HipHop.


    RIP Trajik!! Im best friends with his cuzn Kieran Waller… We were all crushed to hear what hapnd when “Infa-Red” from Desert mob was in a cop car listening and wathcing the shootout unfold and called me and kieran cryn sayn that Trajik is bustn at the cops. Young frozen click and Villain Side G12 will always remember Trajik for the good he did on his time here and the love he showed me and Kieran.