State of the Stage: Madison Hip Hop Poised To Break The Cycle Of Fan Violence


Emerging artist XV will perform at Madison's High Noon Saloon this Thursday, January 26. Recent violence at local hip hop shows has put the future of live shows in question.

In the last two months in Madison, we’ve had two incidents of gun play at music venues.  First, at a Majestic Christmas Eve hip-hop party hosted by the ever-positive local hip-hop artist, Rob Dz, a fight broke out and guns were pulled on staff and security personnel.  And, more recently, at High Noon Saloon, someone was pistol-whipped, and a shot was fired in the men’s bathroom.  On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, of all days.

Holy crap.

In the aftermath, those of us who love hip-hop and see it as a valid art form are faced with the challenge of where we go from here.

This Thursday, we have Warner Brothers recording artist XV appearing at High Noon Saloon.  In order to reassure the venue’s understandably rattled staff, we’ve made changes in the line-up and instituted radical security measures.  Everyone who comes in the door will be wanded with a metal detector and bags will be checked for weapons.  If you go out the door to smoke or socialize outside on High Noon’s patio, you will be checked again when you come back in.  Period.

I’ve written about this topic before. I’m no expert. I’m just one guy with an opinion. But it’s an informed opinion. True Endeavors has brought more hip-hop shows to Madison over the last two decades than any other promoter. A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Common, The Roots, Method Man, Ghostface, Eyedea & Abilities, Atmosphere, Brother Ali, P.O.S., Doomtree, Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Mac Miller, Wale, Immortal Technique, Heiroglyphics, Del The Funky Homosapien, Grieves, G-Side, Danny Brown, Das Racist, Macklemore, Blue Scholars, Living Legends, Afrika Bambaataa, Dead Prez, Sage Francis, Souls of Mischief, YelaWolf, Devin The Dude, Cunninlynguists, and so many more are among the acts we’ve been fortunate to promote.

On the other hand, I’m also white, which means I need to be circumspect before shooting off my mouth.

I agree with Cornell West when he says “race matters.” Newt Gingrich got a big applause line at a recent GOP debate when we attacked Obama as being a “food stamp president.” This is despicable race-baiting, plain and simple. Rick Santorum said something similar before the Iowa primary, playing on the old stereotypes and coded language that have long sullied our national politics.


I bring this up because we can’t discuss our current situation with hip-hop without acknowledging race.  We need to face the facts, but do so in a way that does not excuse criminal behavior.

Hip-hop is an African-American art form. The legacy of two centuries of slavery and one century of Jim Crow is still with us.  Unfortunately, part of that legacy includes violence, particularly black-on-black gun violence, a tragically serious problem in our nation’s urban centers.  Those problems are increasingly more common here in Madison, spilling over into our music venues and night clubs.  It cannot be tolerated in any way whatsoever or our music venues will be shut down one-by-one and there will be no more hip-hop of any kind in Madison.

Most of the problems surrounding hip-hop in Madison have been with DJ parties and MC battles featuring local artists. The crowd that shows for these events are not easy on the staff. Door people report getting hassled by those not wanting to pay the cover charge. Bartenders report getting grabbed and accosted with threatening comments like, “Bitch, you need to put more liquor in my drink.”

Imagine putting up with that and not getting tipped.

Not everyone is doing this hustle and jive bullshit, but enough are that it creates a negative attitude among those who have to put up with it.  Now, with guns being pulled and fired, we’re at a whole other level of concern and push-back.

If I were black, speaking up would have more credibility, I realize that. Still, it must be said: If you cannot go out in public and carry on peacefully and respectfully towards those around you and serving you, you have no business going out. I can’t comment about what goes on at State Street bars that cater to the Greek crowd. There are real problems on State Street, but those problems are not the one threatening to close down music venues in Madison where we do our shows.

So, here’s the deal: White, black, or whatever color, if you bring negative and violent behavior to a show run by True Endeavors, you’re not welcome and will be asked to leave.

I’ll close with this: XV is a positive hip-hop artist. He’s not about the thug life. In fact, XV is about as far removed from gangsta rap as any artist out on tour.

Come to the High Noon this Thursday to see his show and the openers, A.N.T., Tre Money, and WES3 (tickets here).

Support live hip-hop in Madison.  Let’s not let the actions of a few ruin hip-hop for the many.

–Tag Evers


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10 Responses

  1. We are Looking for guest Bloggers

  2. MC Battles have NOT routinely had violence. Not sure how I feel about this title. There have been recent issues, but how many shows over the last couple of years had no problems? You make a great point listing all the great national Hip-Hop True Endevours has brought to Madison, but lets not forget about countless shows put on by local promoters and artists that reflect the true nature of Hip-Hop where fans and artists alike enjoy themselves, tip their bartenders, and leave without incident.

    Everyone doing Hip-Hop for their business in Madison says the same thing when events are marred by violence: “Let’s not let the actions of a few ruin hip-hop for the many.” However, until we get the support of City officials, specifically the ALRC, to increase the number of venues that serve the African American community, we will continue to see sporadic issues at Hip-Hop shows. Why? Because it’s one of the few events happening that caters to an African American crowd in the greater Madison area and beyond. This is not about Hip-Hop at all, and it’s been going on in Madison for decades.
    Rick Flowers says it better than I can:

  3. Well said. thanks for the professionalism always.

  4. @Karen I didn’t say MC battles routinely were violent. I did say most of the problems, when they have occurred, have been with parties featuring local artists, not with national touring acts.

    There used to be many more venues in town doing hip-hop and DJ parties, but there are fewer now because shots have been fired at or around the Annex, Frida’s, Club Majestic, Club Seven, Scatz, Rick’s R Place, etc.

    I’m curious that you would place the blame on the ALRC and city officials. The police are going to react to gun play, and they should before somebody dies.

  5. Exactly, police are only reacting to situations, not working with people to prevent or solve the problem. And you’re right, public safely has to be a priority. We do a lot better when there are a lot of venues open at the same time. When venues close down in a reactionary fashion, we see an increase in problems. Why do they close? Because police calls count against your liquor license even when you are calling to prevent a problem or just asking for a friendly check. Closing venues doesn’t solve problems, it just moves them around. In recent years, when people try to get a liquor license they promise the ALRC that they won’t play Hip-Hop. To me, that’s a problem. That’s why I mention ALRC and city officials. Police are somewhat limited in how they can address these issues. It has to be something we approach from multiple angles. It has to be an issue the broader community takes an interest in and attempts to understand or we are doomed to the same fate for the next few decades.

  6. Why was Sincere taken off the bill, assuming he is the only “changes made” that i’ve seen made to the lineup. is it really just a freeze on all local hip-hop now even as opening acts? Because Sincere is positive, insightful hip-hop with a message who would have been perfect opening for XV just not sure whats risky about him? Regardless i’m very psyched for this show and hope it’s a great one even if i’m not at all familiar with the openers. Thanks for keeping this one on the calendar though im sure this close to the event $$$ played a roll in that.


  7. Sincere was taken off, regrettably, because he’s been on bills where there have been problems in the past. We realize this is not his fault, and plan on making it up to to him in a big way. We added A.N.T., who is also MPD, and perhaps the most positive MC in Madison.

  8. […] the Dude and his posse of laid-back rhyme soothers were a sorely needed respite from months of bad hip hop publicity in Madison. Blame the bad rap on the local media for propagating the word of recent club nuisances; blame the […]

  9. […] the Dude and his posse of laid-back rhyme soothers were a sorely needed respite from months of bad hip hop publicity in Madison. Blame the bad rap on the local media for propagating the word of recent club nuisances; blame the […]

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