Rolling Loud drops rappers due to alleged “risk of violence”


New York’s Rolling Loud music festival is trying to keep things quiet this weekend. The organizers for the event removed five rappers from Saturday and Sunday’s lineup after the New York Police Department sent them a letter saying that the rappers are connected to “recent acts of violence citywide.” 

The October 9 letter from the NYPD asks the organizers to specifically cancel performances by 22GZ, Casanova, Pop Smoke, Sheff G and Don Q because of “public safety concerns.” 

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“The above listed performers have been affiliated with recent acts of violence citywide. The New York City Police Department believes if these individuals are allowed to perform, there will be a higher risk of violence,” wrote assistant chief Martin Morales. “I look forward to working with you in an effort to keep this event safe.” 

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The NYPD failed to clarify what the specific public safety concerns or affiliations with acts of violence might be.

YouTube star DJ Akedemiks posted the letter on Twitter early Saturday morning, saying “New York ain’t playing around.” 

The original lineup had Pop Smoke and Sheff G set to perform Saturday at Citi Field and 22GZ, Casanova and Don Q performing Sunday. 

When Rolling Loud posted the weekend schedule on Twitter Saturday morning, however, the performers’ names were nowhere to be seen. 

Rolling Loud has not released a formal statement on the decision, but festival co-founder and owner Tariq Cherif told followers on Twitter that they “had no choice but to comply” in order to hold the festival in New York again in the future. He reassured attendees that they still plan to pay the cancelled artists’ booking fees and will offer them spots in the festival in other cities in the future. 

“… All the public sees is the letter. Way more happened behind closed doors. If we want RL to return to NYC, we have no choice but to comply. That’s the position we’re in,” he said to a Twitter user who said the letter from the NYPD was a “suggestion.”  

Cherif also tweeted, “Sucks it happened but the show goes on. Now NYC let’s have a good time! Show is amazing so far!”

Some of the cancelled performers took to social media to express their disappointment. Casanova told his Instagram followers that he “just wants to live” and that it’s “unfair and unfortunate” he is not allowed to perform because of what he believes is the stigmatization of his past. Originally hailing from Brooklyn, the rapper served time at Rikers Island — alongside fellow rapper A$AP Rocky — and, according to the post, his most recent felony conviction was in 2007.

After Saturday’s cancellation, he booked a new gig in South Beach. 

Don Q, who originally hails from the Bronx, said he and the other cancelled artists “won’t give up.” 

“I love my city and i [sic] never been in any gang activities or never had issues at any of my previous shows. I hope the city will wake up and see that cancelling me and my fellow NY artists isn’t the solution,” he wrote. “We just love what we do and want to perform for our fans.”

Rolling Loud will host another festival in Los Angeles December 14-15, but the cancelled artists in New York are not included in the lineup.