Local hip-hop artists have one less place to perform after a shooting at a city club led the manager to eliminate hip-hop shows from its bookings.
According to a report from the Madison Police Department, a fight broke out between two men and one pulled a gun at The Frequency at 121 W. Main St. early Monday morning. The fight proceeded to move outside, where one shot was fired, the report said.
No one was injured, according to the report, but both individuals had fled before police arrived.
The Frequency announced on its Facebook page Tuesday it will no longer host any local, regional or national hip-hop shows.
The post said this decision was partly influenced by The Frequency’s landlord, the city and the surrounding neighborhood association. The post added it does not want to risk putting both employees and patrons in danger again.
As a venue, it is important to have a good reputation with the city as a safe place to go, Matt Gerding, owner of the Majestic Theatre, a neighboring and similar venue, said in an email to The Badger Herald.
“When these things continue to happen as they have over the past year, at some point it’s not worth risking that reputation and more importantly, putting your trusting and loyal staff in a potentially dangerous work environment,” Gerding said in the email.
According to Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, The Frequency’s landlord, Larry Lichte, included a provision in the lease when the bar first opened a few years ago prohibiting hip-hop acts from performing in order to decrease violence. Since the shooting, Lichte has enforced the lease, leaving club owner Darwin Sampson with little choice if he did not want to risk eviction, he said.
“I am saddened that we’ve lost another [hip-hop] venue,” Verveer said. “It’s not the first time it’s happened. There are different types of hip-hop, and some seldom have problems.”
Lt. Sherrie Strand of MPD said there have not been many other shootings in the area aside from the shooting on the 600 block of University Avenue last summer, as well as the shooting at Frita’s on State Street last New Year’s Eve.
Shah Evans, a local hip-hop promoter, said he supported Sampson’s decision.
“[Sampson] has supported hip-hop,” he said. “But he owns a business, and it’s in his lease that he can’t do hip-hop.”
Evans added he wanted to make it clear the promoters of The Frequency’s show Sunday, CME, did nothing wrong.
“They did everything correctly,” he said.
Evans, who also used to promote for Majestic Theatre said he was concerned for hip-hop’s sustainability in Madison.
According to Evans, he has tried everything “humanly possible” to keep doors open for Madison’s hip-hop.
It is understandable that problems arise, such as the incident at The Frequency, but on average there is less violence at hip-hop shows than anywhere else, he said.
“I wish the city wouldn’t come down so hard on hip-hop,” he said. “There’s so much talent in this city, [but] no opportunity to teach them the business.”
For now, Evans said, local hip-hop artists will perform at community centers and upcoming hip-hop awards.
Correction: A previous version of this article quoted Evans as saying the Majestic had “eliminated” hip-hop shows. This has been removed, as the venue still books nationally touring hip-hop artists. We regret the error.