Lil' Flip: "Y'all f@#ked it up tonight, Minneapolis"
A pool of blood gathers on the floor. A woman cradles a man's head, weeping. Another woman threatens another man in front of the coat-check line. "I'll do you with my brother's shotgun, bitch," she yells. "Shotgun, bitch!" she taunts, over and over. "Shotgun, bitch!"
"Damn, we was having a good time tonight, Minneapolis," said Houston rapper Lil' Flip from the stage of the Quest a few minutes earlier. He looked out at the suddenly cleared floor as crowds began knotting themselves around fights that wouldn't end. "Y'all fucked it up tonight."
That was around 2:00 a.m., Saturday night. At 2:20 a.m., fans rushed back in through the front entrance, taking cover for a minute behind the club's giant pillars. News spread quickly that a man and a woman had just been shot outside. Police later reported that both victims survived. Apparently, so did the man whose head had spilled blood on the floor: He was able to get up and walk out. Police say they haven't heard from him.
Contrary to Sunday's WCCO report, which was picked up by MTV, the double-shooting did not take place while Lil' Flip was performing, and it didn't take place inside the club. (The Quest has metal detectors.) But a number of indoor scuffles preceded the shooting. Flip stopped his Pac-Man-sampling hit "Game Over" mid-song to quell the fight that gashed the wobbly man's head. He tried to follow with "Turn It Up," but it was no use. "Fuck it," he said, cutting the music short at the second chorus.
Flip's DJ turned to the crowd, disgusted. "That shit is 1980s," he said. "Nigga, we in the 2000s. Nobody's fighting in the clubs no more. Come on, Minneapolis!"
On video screens, meanwhile, 1985's hip-hop classic Krush Groove played silently amid the chaos, a reminder of a lost time flickering in the club that Prince built.
Until halfway through Flip's set, actually, it had been a fun show. There were jovial good spirits among people posing for pictures that were then photo-shopped onto the covers of national magazines. Men and women danced to the crunk hit parade between openers, whom they received politely, if not always enthusiastically. Out-of-town acts, including TMF from St. Louis, shared the stage with locals mostly from the North Side of Minneapolis, including Young Pluky (above) with his alt-rock band Meth Lab in tow, between 10:00 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.--when Flip finally took the stage in a sparkly gold bracelet, watch, and pendant.
The Houston star instantly set the proletarian-playa tone he's known for, urging one sideman to pour Moet into the upraised cups down front, tossing t-shirts and CDs to the upper balconies and floor. "I need the whole club drinking," he said. He sniffed the air. "Y'all 'd think you was in Amsterdam, smoking that weed an' shit."
In fact, a cloud of smoke hung in the air above Flip and his crew, with some members openly smoking cigarellos in holders--in blatant violation of Minneapolis's indoor smoking ban. It was an emboldening signal that the rules were giving way at this 18+ show, and slowly it seemed the party began to outstrip anyone's ability to police it. When shoving matches broke out, escalating into swinging fists, the expected swarm of security failed to materialize.
Most fans probably didn't notice, at first. "If you've got more than ten dollars in your pocket, make some fucking noise," yelled Flip, and the crowd screamed back. One female fan jumped onstage, flashed her tits, and was handed a poster for her troubles.
During "Sunshine," the first tussle broke out between two groups of women near the stage. "We from the hood, yo, we ain't gonna stop the show," said Flip, his DJ nonetheless rewinding the music. "We used to this shit, man. See, we going to let everybody get this shit out of their system right quick."
The speech didn't work. By the time the fights got worse, nobody was looking at the stage. One woman, Terry Lewis's 40-year-old cousin, said she received an inadvertant punch to the face, knocking off her glasses. (She also said she returned blows.) Soon the house lights were up, and Flip began announcing his after-party, as another voice came over the PA: "Ladies and gentlemen, your evening at the Quest is over."
"Shotgun, bitch!" "Shotgun, bitch!" "Shotgun, bitch!" shouted the woman in back.
As others waited for coats, trapped, one woman turned to another and shook her head. "I'd rather be at home watching cable with my kids."
For more discussion of violence at shows, see this thread at DUNation.com. Anyone who has information about the shooting can reach the Minneapolis police via their tips line, 612.692.8477 ("TIPS").
Updates: The Star Tribune report quotes club management and offers a detailed account. More reactions at MNSpeak.com. A thread at Farc. More discussion at MusicScene.org. Riemenschneider on fights at rap shows. On Dec. 20 the Star Tribune reports that the Quest has closed pending payment of fee for a security camera.
A note to new visitors: I've been going to hip-hop shows for nearly 20 years, so it's sometimes hard for me to read my articles through the eyes of people who might never have been to a rap show, never mind a Lil' Flip show. For some, it's probably as hard to imagine that I never once felt in danger or uncomfortable Saturday night. It was a good vibe ruined by fights. And I'm the biggest white geek you ever met.
I'll be honest, most of the comments sparked by this article are deeply depressing to me. I won't even include the vilest racist posts we've had to delete--12 last I counted. I guess I can see the comic aspect of that "Shotgun, bitch" lady (people at the show sure recognized it at the time). But if you're using this blog as propaganda against rap music, the rap audience, black people, or any other category of humanity, I only ask you this: Please consider that your disdain is a convenient mask for fear.
I've been to plenty of "ghetto" events and never seen anything like this.
For more good reading about hip hop in Minnesota, check out:
One Nation, Invisible: Minneapolis hip hop from Prince to the Rhymesayers (City Pages 8/18/04), School of Funk: Jimmy Jam was a DJ. Morris Day was a drummer. Prince was a kid with a huge afro. Before they changed popular music, Mom told them to turn that racket down. (City Pages 7/14/04), First Love: An Oral History of First Avenue (City Pages 9/3/03), Armell Antonio Pate, R.I.P. (City Pages 12/16/98), Boogie Nights: Admired by rappers and ravers alike, DJ Boogie brings X-rated "ghetto house" to Minnesota (City Pages 8/9/00), Papa Said Knock You Out: The C.O.R.E. (City Pages 2/5/03), Blazin' on $20 a Day: Five Nights in the Life of Local Hip Hop (City Pages 9/17/03), Freestyle Fridays at Digital City Music (Culture to Go 10/24/05), Give Me the B-Boys and Free My Soul: 20 Weird Moments from the 4th Annual Twin Cities Celebration of Hip Hop (City Pages 8/31/05), Your Bad Self: I Self Devine (City Pages 8/3/05), What's the Big Eyedea? (City Pages 9/12/01), Here Comes a Regular: Slug and Ant bring Atmosphere back home (City Pages 11/9/05), A New Orleans funeral for Katrina in Houston and Minneapolis (City Pages 9/14/05), Contact High: He's collaborated with Lil Jon. He's opened for Young Jeezy. He's worked at the same record store for eight years. For North Side rapper Contac, hip-hop dreams are just around the corner (City Pages 12/21/05). More here.