Rolling Loud New York will be down a few hometown artists.
According to the New York Times, multiple drill rappers say they were removed from the festival’s lineup, at the request of the NYPD. The acts include the Bronx’s Sha Ek and Ron Suno, as well as Brooklyn’s 22Gz. The latter rapper was one of five artists who were pulled from Rolling Loud New York in 2019, after authorities expressed concern over potential violence. Just days before the festival’s kickoff, the NYPD sent a letter to organizers requesting the removal of 22Gz, Pop Smoke, Casanova, Sheff G, and Don Q.
“The above listed performers have been affiliated with recent acts of violence citywide,” the letter read. “The New York City Police Department believes that if these individuals are allowed to perform, there will be a higher risk of violence.”
Rolling Loud co-founder Tariq Cherif took to Twitter shortly after, claiming he and his team ultimately complied with the request to ensure the festival’s future.
“All the public sees is the letter. Way more happened behind closed doors,” he tweeted. “If we want RL to return to NYC, we have no choice but to comply. That’s the position we’re in.”
22Gz’s rep confirmed to Complex that he was pulled from the lineup, but did not specify a reason.
Lawmakers and political figures have expressed growing concern over the violent content of drill music. The rap style originated in Southside Chicago in 2011, and quickly became known for its hard-hitting lyrics about inner-city life. NYC Mayor Eric Adams criticized the rap sub-genre earlier this year, suggesting its artists needed to be censored.
“We pulled Trump off Twitter because of what he was spewing, yet we are allowing music, displaying of guns, violence, we are allowing it to stay on the site, because look at the victims,” he said back in February. “We’re bringing them in, we’re going to show exactly what is being displayed, and we are alarmed by it. We are alarmed by the use of social media to really over-proliferate this violence in our communities.”
22Gz’s record label confirmed his Rolling Loud performance had been scrapped, but declined to elaborate on the matter. According to the Times, the 24-year-old rapper is now facing attempted murder charges stemming from a shooting that left three people injured. He was arrested on June 12 and released on bond just four days later.
However, representatives for Sha Ek and Suno say the decision to remove the rappers was unwarranted.
“The police try to associate what he’s doing with violence and negativity,” Sha Ek’s manager, Stanley “Noodles” Davis, told the Times. “They don’t respect that he’s an artist and entertainer trying to better himself and feed his family at 19 years old. Sha Ek has performed all over the Northeast this year. The crowds at his concerts are full of kids dancing and having fun. He’s excited to keep growing his touring business and proving the police wrong.”
Suno’s manager, Diamond Brown, made a similar statement.
“How can a person who has no criminal record and no gang ties — the kid never even made a diss record — be denied to perform in his hometown after all his hard work?” he wrote in a text to the Times.
Complex has reached out to Rolling Loud organizers, as well as representatives for Sha Ek and 22Gz. Rolling Loud declined to comment. The NYPD has yet to comment on the report.
The annual festival will go down between Friday and Sunday at Citi Field Stadium in Queens. Nicki Minaj, ASAP Rocky, and Future will headline the event, with performances by Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Lil Baby, Fat Joe, Don Toliver, and more.