When video was released showing Troy Ave at the center of the recent shooting at Irving Plaza, it felt more like a Bill O'Reilly-directed episode of Law & Order than a real life event. Perhaps that’s why Twitter was quick to joke, but aside from the very real consequences to Ronald "Banga" McPhatter, who was killed in the shooting, and his family, hip-hop’s reputation was on the line.
The incident provided a quick opening for "comedians" and police commissioners to play the same “gangsta rap is ruining America” game that has been pushed since hip-hop broke out of the basement. Hip-hop as a whole is under attack, but it's one of it's brightest stars, Joey Bada$$, who is feeling the ramifications as his upcoming Irving Plaza show, scheduled for Thursday, June 2, has been cancelled.
If the police were shutting down the show because the venue was an active crime scene and further investigation was ongoing that would be one thing, but that doesn't appear to be the case. A phone call to Irving Plaza confirmed that while the Pro Era leader's performance is no more, the band Train, is still set to perform Led Zeppelin II at Irving Plaza tonight. Joey Bada$$' show is cancelled but Train's isn't?
You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to make the connection, but is it Joey being singled out or all of hip-hop?
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There's currently some confusion around whether the NYPD was explicitly involved in cancelling the show, as Joey first tweeted and then quickly deleted, or not. My phone call to the NYPD resulted in being told to ask any questions in an e-mail instead, which I interpreted as a professional way of getting me to stop bothering them as quickly as possible.
As for other upcoming hip-hop shows at Irving Plaza, a source at concert promoter Live Nation told DJBooth that in the wake of the shooting they are in close contact with the NYPD and as of right now, there is no plan to cancel Mac Miller's Irving Plaza show on June 3 or the Vince Staples show on June 4.
Regardless, Joey Bada$$'s cancellation feels like a warning sign that the "rappers are thugs" thoughts of New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton are shared by many and are having real world consequences. Aside from an ancient "beef" and their hometown, there is very little connecting Joey Bada$$ to Troy Ave, and this cancellation proves that even in the city of its birth, hip-hop's place can still be swept away by one tragic night.
Update: According to Rolling Stone, Joey's show is the first in a series of upcoming hip-hop shows that have been canceled by Live Nation in the New York market.