April 6, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 98  

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Hip-hop gets bad rap? 50 skips T.O. for London

By Suzie Kim
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
NO, I’M NOT AFRAID OF GETTING SHOT. 50 Cent puts on his best vest to roll into the John Labatt Centre later this month.

This month, the John Labatt Centre is preparing to host a sold-out show featuring G-Unit who are promoting the release of their Beg For Mercy album. Oddly, the tour has chosen to exclude Toronto from its concert listings.

Just over a year ago, rap artist 50 Cent exploded on the music charts with his debut album, Get Rich Or Die Trying. The controversial album chronicles a life of street hustling and gang violence from the projects of Queens, New York, where 50 Cent was born as Curtis Jackson and raised by his grandparents.

Following his debut success, 50 hooked-up with long time friends Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo, and combined forces with rapper Young Buck from the dirty south to produce their first G-Unit album, Beg For Mercy, which hit stores last November.

Currently, G-Unit is preparing for a Canadian tour — minus Tony Yayo who is in jail on parole violations — with opening acts such as David Banner and Canadian artists Kardinal Offishall and Melanie Durrant. The tour kicks off in Vancouver on Apr. 12, with subsequent performances province-wide, including three Ontario cities: Hamilton, Ottawa and London.

Lisa Louie of R.E.M.G. Productions, the company promoting the Hamilton and London events, explains why no concert dates were scheduled in Toronto: “50 Cent had already opened for Jay-Z last summer in Toronto, so it was a decision that was made business-wise. Looking purely at the fanbase and demographics of the London area, there are lots of people who support the music in London and lots of universities in the neighbouring areas.”

Last summer, 50 Cent and Jay-Z held dynamic performances at Toronto’s Molson Amphitheatre as part of their Rock The Mic tour. But what some may not remember, or in many cases, remember all too well, is what happened directly afterwards. On July 1, 2003, Msemji Granger, a 24-year-old Hamilton native, was gunned down and killed in a parking lot packed with people.

The incident occured just two days after a man was arrested at the Rock the Mic concert in Buffalo for carrying a loaded .347 and wearing a bulletproof vest. Also, less than three months earlier, a man was shot by three carjackers while leaving a 50 Cent concert in Hollywood.

According to Holly Kjeldgaard, assistant general manager at the JLC, music is subjective to its listeners, and people are moved in different ways. “History in business over the years has shown us that rock shows prove more troublesome than rap shows,” Kjeldgaard says.

However, what should be a concern is the increasing hostility and violence displayed at many of these events. In recent years, there has been an increasing trend towards violent events at concerts and music venues. In October 2003, a riot broke out at a Montreal night club after a scheduled punk rock show was unexpectedly cancelled.

Though these events are usually well contained, there are many factors that can cause a crowd to turn ugly. “When you get a bigger crowd, you always run a bigger risk,” Louie explains.

The G-Unit show is expected to draw a crowd of over 8,000 on Tuesday, Apr. 20 at the JLC.



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