A backstage look at the troubled hip hop event, including what you didn't see on UPN's broadcast.
Credit: Eminem: Kevin Mazur

At least no one can say it was just another boring awards show. Police shut down last Tuesday’s taping of the Source Hip-Hop Music Awards at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium after one fight in the audience and another backstage sent ticket holders running for the exits. Soon questions were being asked about what might happen to UPN’s plans to air the event — the show will go on, sans fight footage, at 8 p.m. tonight — and what the botched event might mean for the hip hop community. ”We can’t depend on the Grammys to recognize hip hop artists, so these awards are where we get our recognition,” says Rockwilder’s manager James Ellis. ”Things like this affect the whole state of hip hop. It’s 20 years of hard work down the drain.”

The first altercation began when the show was on hold for a commercial break. Meshack Blaq, publisher of Kronick magazine, saw a fight break out near the stage. ”Let’s just say that an individual was being beaten because another individual may have tried to take some jewelry from him,” Blaq says. ”It wasn’t something like East Coast versus West Coast, not even.” Another source tells EW.com that the fight began after an unnamed man tugged the chain hanging from rapper E-40’s neck to taunt him.

Reports of what happened next vary wildly. Some attendees claim that fistfights broke out throughout the theater, while others say the crowd calmly dispersed within 10 minutes. Opinions are still mixed about whether the Pasadena police made the right decision in shutting down the show. ”The cops sat back and watched what was going on, figuring, ‘We’ll let them self destruct and then kick them out of the building,”’ says Ellis. Pasadena police spokeswoman Janet Pope tells EW.com, ”We handled it professionally, quickly, and courteously. We kept people from getting hurt.” Blaq, who feels the police shutdown was necessary, says he saw one man crying after being maced. Pope admits that police used mace.

Conditions within the auditorium undoubtedly enflamed hot tempers. Frequent set changes led to lengthy delays, and there was no concession stand for water or other beverages. With tickets ranging from $350 to $800, it isn’t surprising some audience members became cranky.

And some had issues with security as well. Blaq says that several artists he knew left early, nervous after seeing security guards allow some bodyguards to bypass the metal detectors. However, Len Ford, V.P. of Sales and Marketing for Pinkerton Security, disagrees: ”All arrivals at the red carpet went through metal detectors.” Maybe so. But the publicist for one presenter tells EW.com he and the star personally witnessed a stabbing in a secure area. ”I’ve never been to an awards show where I’ve actually feared for my own safety,” he says. Police spokeswoman Pope counters that she has no knowledge of a stabbing, nor was a report of a stabbing filed.

Though no artists were injured in the melee (rumors claiming Krazie Bone of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony had been beaten were later dismissed by Ruthless Records, and DJ Quik was released without incident after police questioned him for his suspected involvement in an earlier skirmish outside the auditorium), the ruined evening was a costly one for many. For UPN, it’s meant hustling to reschedule the taping of several of the missed performances so that they could be included in tonight’s show. But it should prove to be a worthwhile investment considering that last year’s awards brought in the network’s highest ratings ever for a Friday night. But not all of the stars slated to perform were available the second time around. A much anticipated medley by Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, and Kurupt ultimately had to be scrapped.

And a planned show stopper by Method Man and Redman, who won the award for Live Performer of the Year, met the same fate. ”We paid $70,000 for our set,” says Ellis. ”Everyone would have lost their minds. We had them in gorilla suits, running up from the audience to the stage. We had live monkeys on stage. This show had creativity, it was something.”

(With additional reporting by Craig Seymour)


Artist of the Year (Solo)
Dr. Dre

Artist of the Year (Group)
Hot Boys

Album of the Year
Dr. Dre 2001 (Dr. Dre)

Single of the Year
Whoa! (Black Rob)

New Artist of the Year (Solo)

New Artist of the Year (Group)
Tha Eastsidaz

Lyricist of the Year

Live Performer of the Year
Method Man and Redman

Music Video of the Year
Guilty Conscience; Eminem and Dr. Dre (directed by Phillip Atwell)

R&B Artist of the Year

Movie of the Year
”Next Friday” (directed by Steve Carr)

Lifetime Achievement
Ice Cube and Dr. Dre

Pioneer Award
Grand Wizard Theodore