So much for fears of another boring awards show. Two and a half hours into the Aug. 22 taping of the Source Hip-Hop Music Awards 2000 at the Pasadena Civic Center, a melee erupted in the audience and backstage, forcing police to shut down the show and sending artists including Eminem and Lil’ Kim heading for the exits.
Sources tell EW that the catalyst for the event-ending chaos came after a rival tugged the chain hanging from rapper E-40’s neck to taunt him. ”It wasn’t something like East Coast versus West Coast, not even,” says Meshack Blaq, publisher of Kronick magazine. Perhaps not, but the resulting scuffle between E-40, his posse, and the chain ripper apparently sparked fistfights throughout the auditorium. Things threatened to escalate even further when a group of Death Row representatives advanced menacingly toward Snoop Dogg, before the rapper’s bodyguards whisked him away (publicists for Death Row and Snoop declined to comment).
The fights, say witnesses, were fueled partly by old rap grudges, partly by conditions in the arena — there was no concession stand or even water for attendees, who had paid upwards of $350 for tickets. Some also fault the venue’s security. ”Security didn’t do s—,” says one record company employee. ”And that definitely contributed to the problem.” (Pinkerton Security, which handled the event, said they did as much as they could do: ”We are citizens, not sworn police officers.”) Despite rumors to the contrary, there were no major injuries, and some insisted the crowd calmly dispersed after 20 minutes.
UPN, which aired the Awards sans fight footage Aug. 29, was forced to scrap planned jams like a Method Man-Redman duet and a medley by Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, and Kurupt. The network hasn’t committed to airing the show next year (a UPN publicist says participation will depend on the usual factor — this year’s ratings, which were unavailable at press time), but Source, the sponsoring magazine, promises its awards will continue. Executive editor Frank Williams says that every precaution will be taken to make next year’s event safer. He also hopes — along with others in the rap community — that this year’s brouhaha will not be blown out of proportion: ”It’s unfortunate that when one incident happens at a hip-hop event, it represents everything we do. Woodstock doesn’t represent rock. This doesn’t represent hip-hop.”
— with additional reporting by Soren Baker and Craig Seymour