G-Unit rapper Tony Yayo’s arrest this weekend for allegedly roughing up the 14-year-old son of the man who manages rival artist The Game is bad news for everyone. It’s still far from clear exactly what happened on the day in question, but it doesn’t sound like it was much fun for the alleged victim. Yayo himself (pictured), who pled not guilty on Sunday and was released from jail on $5,000 bail, can’t be enjoying the process either. (“We adamantly deny the allegations as set forth by the District Attorney’s office,” Yayo’s attorney, Scott E. Leemon, told EW.com today.) And in a larger sense, this turn of events is unfortunate for hip-hop as a whole. However this case is resolved, the last thing the world needs is another excuse for media mavens to trot out the old, tired stereotype of rap as an inherently violence-prone genre. If Bill O’Reilly hasn’t made some offensive generalizations based on Yayo’s arrest yet, I’m sure he’ll get around to it soon.
But the person who may be least happy about the charges against Yayo is his friend and boss, 50 Cent. Initial reports claimed that he was present at the alleged scuffle in downtown Manhattan. The rapper’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, issued a denial: “One thing I can say with absolute certainty… is that at the time of the alleged incident, 50 Cent was not in New York State,” Brafman said in a statement.
Why is 50 Cent — a guy who regularly brags about his criminal past, who just last month was releasing straight-to-YouTube videos featuring angry threats against fellow rappers — so eager to distance himself from this story? The truth is, despite 50’s exaggerated on-record persona, there’s just no way for a grown man to turn rumors that he might have been somehow involved in beating up a real-life teenager to his advantage. True or false, this is not the kind of story that’s going to get fans excited to buy 50’s new album, which is scheduled for a summer release. Ultimately, it seems, there is such a thing as bad publicity.