Ace of Spades pressured to cancel hip-hop shows in aftermath of Friday's post-Nipsey shooting

A shooting after a concert in downtown Sacramento late Friday night didn’t result in any human deaths. But it may have dealt a critical blow to the city’s fragile hip-hop scene.

At least four people were injured following Nipsey Hussle’s performance at Ace of Spades, including a male victim who sustained multiple gunshot wounds and another person who was grazed by gunfire, Sacramento Police Department officials reported. All four victims were treated at local hospitals and expected to recover.

One casualty that isn’t doing so well is the music.

Ace of Spades co-owner Bret Bair told SN&R the club is being pressured to schedule fewer rap acts in the aftermath of Friday’s incident, and has already deferred two shows.

“There’s probably going to be less hip-how shows,” he said. “And it’s a bummer, because people in Sacramento love their hip-hop.”

In an eerie coincidence, last week’s shooting occurred six years to the day after similar violence nearly crippled the scene.

On February 20, 2009, rapper and promoter Hondo Green was shot after he interrupted his performance at Silk II nightclub to break up a fight between female patrons. Green’s leg was amputated and the Rancho Cordova club was closed as a result.

That sparked an era in which rappers were virtually blackballed from performing locally, says one veteran. “After that, it was insanely hard to get hip-hop shows in Sacramento,” recalled Task1ne. “I’m hoping it doesn’t go back to that. I don’t think it will.”

But it might.

Bair was at a promoters’ conference in Nashville when the shooting happened, but has spent this week taking multiple meetings with merchants and residents throughout the R Street corridor. He’s been in regular contact with the police, as well.

Partly as a result of all that feedback, Ace of Spades postponed Saturday’s Dem’ Bay Boyz “90s Throwback Tour” and canceled March 25th’s appearance by The Game. “We’re definitely getting a lot of pressure” from neighboring businesses to cancel hip-hop shows, he said.

In July, the club dis-invited underground rapper Philthy Rich amid social media chatter of a drive-by if he performed. On his Twitter account, Philthy claimed police wouldn’t let him in the building due to those “death threats.”

While that move was based on actual intelligence, Bair said he and his business partners would now have to be more scrutinizing about what rap acts they let perform and possibly deny any with even onetime gang affiliations.

Councilman Steve Hansen attended a police department roll call Saturday evening. He didn’t think the city would “myopically” crack down on a single music genre, instead weighing police intelligence, a venue’s track record and other factors before etching out its strategy for providing entertainment and protection.

“There’s sort of this ‘How to do it right’ [conversation happening],” he said. “It’s definitely on all our radars.”

He pointed to Saturday’s sixth annual Naughty Gras as an example. The event drew 4,000 revelers to the Sacramento Convention Center, but ended without incident because an adequate police presence kept exiting crowds from loitering.

Police were in heavier attendance outside of Ace of Spades that same night, when Task1ne opened for Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. The all-ages show—a far cry from Nipsey’s hardcore fare—drew families and was incident-free, Task1ne and Bair said.

“Obviously, we did receive a lot of pressure to cancel that show, too,” Bair revealed. But he and his partners decided that displacing 1,000 ticket-buying concertgoers at the last minute, on the same night as Naughty Gras, would create the potential for more trouble, not less. “It went off pretty much without a hitch,” he added.

Under the city’s entertainment ordinance, the police department has adequate authority to develop and tweak a venue’s security plan, Hansen said. But a lack of security doesn’t seem to have been the issue at Friday’s Nipsey Hussle show. Two police units paid for by the club were on site, while a security staff of 17 conducted full body searches at the door and kept the peace during the show.

It wasn’t until the concert let out that trouble sparked.

Along with the club-paid officers, additional units were nearby attempting to apprehend a concertgoer who jumped on a patrol car when shots rang out, authorities said. It’s believed that multiple shooters contributed to the mayhem. Police identified one person of interest and recovered one firearm, as well as multiple rounds from the intersection.

Even with multiple police officers in full view, “The shootings still occurred,” Bair said. “It obviously didn’t deter the violence.”

The incident was one of at least seven reported shootings that police worked over the weekend, including a fatal drive-by in south Sacramento on February 22. That Sunday afternoon, two men in their 20s were struck by gunfire while occupants of a moving car on Meadowview Road near 22nd Street, police stated in a release. One of the men, 20-year-old James Jackson of Sacramento, died from his injuries. Police say the gunfire originated from a second vehicle, also driven in the area.

“It’s unfortunate that stuff like this happens,” Task1ne said of the club incident. “Sacramento is known for gang activity. It’s unfortunate, but honestly, I’m not shocked.”

He worried less evolved minds would paint all of hip-hop with one bad brush. “To me, it’s ignorant, but they’re giving them a reason not to [support hip-hop],” he said. “All it takes is one incident.”

The city’s entertainment permit program manager, Tina Lee-Vogt, deemed it too early to comment on her office’s response to Friday’s shooting. “This is a venue that hasn’t had a history of problems, so we’re going to review all of the facts,” she said.

That wasn’t the case for NEX Nightclub Sacramento, which had its entertainment permit revoked January 1 following multiple security and management issues, Lee-Vogt confirmed.

Though he was required to arrive for his Ace of Spades gig hours earlier than usual and submit to a particularly thorough pat-down, Task1ne defended the venue. “It seemed to me like they did their job,” he said. “The incident happened outside.”

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