Source Awards Gives Hip-Hop's Reputation Another Blow

Police say assault charges unlikely against E-40, Mack Minister.

The brawl that ended The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards last week hurt efforts to shake rap's reputation for promoting violence, industry insiders said.

"They are lucky — and I use that word loosely — that [the show] was taped and not live," said Debi Fee, senior managing editor of Rap Pages magazine. "It's really sad that a few can ruin it for so many."

Meanwhile, Pasadena, Calif., police said on Monday that it's unlikely that felony assault charges will be filed against either E-40 (born Earl Stevens) or Mack Minister (born Andre Dow), who were involved in one of several fights that forced authorities to shut down the rap awards show Aug. 22. The police plan to present their findings later this week to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, which will make the final decision, Lt. Rick Aversano said.

E-40's manager, Chaz Hayes, said on Monday that Mack Minister, a one-time E-40 collaborator, started the fight. Mack Minister, who was briefly hospitalized after the ruckus, could not be reached for comment.

The event is scheduled to air — with the fights edited out and reconstructed awards presentations added in — Tuesday night on UPN.

"It's a shame with 25-plus years of hip-hop culture that we still have to come to blows at a major hip-hop event," said DJ Mecca, host and producer of 88hiphop.com, an online show about hip-hop culture on the Pseudo Online Network.

"There are a lot of positive messages in hip-hop, but what gets attention is the violence," Fee said.

It's unclear how deeply the violence at last week's show will affect mainstream support for future hip-hop awards shows.

"We support The Source Awards and we are anxious for it to air and for it to do well," UPN spokesperson Charles Barile said. But the network has not decided whether it will air future editions of the event, he said.

The American Music Awards broke ground in the early '90s by putting a hip-hop act on live in prime time. But after last week's brawl, it may be difficult for hip-hop magazine The Source or any other group to get a network to broadcast a live awards program, Fee said.

DJ Mecca put it more bluntly. "[Actor] Keanu Reeves does not fight his opponents at the Oscars," she said.

Some Predict Few Ill Effects

People who truly understand rap music know last week's ruckus was merely a beef between individuals, one Los Angeles record-store manager said.

"It will only affect people who aren't aware of the culture — people who already have a negative opinion of hip-hop," Fat Beats manager Carlos Menendez said.

But Davey D, who hosts a show about rap issues on KMEL-FM in San Francisco, said organizers will need to plan events more carefully. "Hip-hop will have to learn some hard lessons," he said.

Some strides already have been made in the quest to keep the peace at such events, Davey D said. After fights broke out among concertgoers during KMEL's Summer Jam hip-hop concert one year, the station placed more adult chaperones in the crowd at subsequent events.

Organizers also should take into account beefs between rappers and their entourages when making up performance schedules and seating charts, Davey D suggested.

Rap fans were seated next to multimillionaire hip-hop stars in the auditorium at this year's Source Awards, D-Shot said. The Bay Area rapper, who is E-40's brother, witnessed some of the fighting.

"There should have been separate seating," said D-Shot, who is scheduled to release his third album, Money, Sex and Thugs, this fall.

According to E-40 manager Hayes, Mack Minister, who appeared to have no assigned seat, entered the Pasadena Civic Auditorium during the taping last week and freely socialized with well-known rappers.

Previous Conflicts

E-40 was visiting Bryan "Baby" Williams, co-CEO of Cash Money Records, and Williams' son when he encountered Mack Minister. The latter frequently shows up at events where E-40 is expected to attend and demands to be put on an E-40 album or asks to perform, Hayes said. This time, he said, Mack Minister complained he wasn't doing well in the music business. During the fight, E-40 put Mack Minster in a headlock and "no one saw what happened after that," Hayes said.

Hayes said E-40 lost $80,000 of diamond jewelry including a necklace, bracelet and pendant during the scuffle.

The rapper has notified police about the missing jewelry, and police plan to investigate when they receive pictures of the missing items from E-40's representatives, Aversano said.

"At an awards show like that you have to have ushers or some sort of security," Hayes said, adding that when E-40 was a presenter at The Source Awards last year, there were fewer problems.

Event planners had little control over who sat next to whom because record labels purchased blocks of tickets and distributed them at their discretion, Source Awards spokesperson Chris Suter said.

The producers have not addressed plans for future shows, Suter said, but Tuesday night's broadcast will include anti-violence public service announcements.

UPN, which is owned by sonicnet.com parent company Viacom, will air Lil' Kim's performance of "No Matter What They Say" (RealAudio excerpt), a song from her new album, Notorious K.I.M. The show also will feature performances by Wyclef Jean (with professional wrestler The Rock), Cash Money Millionaires and Jay-Z.

"Everyone who loves hip-hop will be happy," Suter said.

(Senior Writer Teri vanHorn contributed to this report.)