The hottest talk in the rap world continues to be the violence at this month's "Jack the Rapper" convention in Atlanta--and whether the hip-hop world's annual industry gathering is in jeopardy.
In view of the numerous fights and gunplay at and around the convention site Aug. 12-15, record executives are wondering whether they want to still attend the meetings.
Eyewitnesses report bullets being fired from the balconies of the Marriott Marquis Hotel, where the convention was headquartered, and guns and knives being flashed openly at session events.
"Some of the young hip-hoppers turned it into one big street brawl," says Hits magazine R&B editor JJ Johnson, who told his staff to leave the convention a day early.
"I'll never say never," says Doug Daniel, Arista Records vice president of R&B promotion, when asked if he plans to attend "Jack the Rapper" next year. "But there's no doubt about it, there will have to be some changes made."
Jill Gibson, the convention's executive director and the daughter of its founder and namesake, longtime Atlanta urban music figure Jack Gibson, pledges that the changes will be made but will not be specific.
"It's a matter of a few troublemakers with no manners," she says of the hostilities. "It's a shame it tarnished a great meeting."
But reports Pop Eye heard sound as if it was more than just a few troublemakers. The most prominent incident reportedly involved 2 Live Crew leader Luther Campbell, who is said to have led his "posse" on a rampage of overturning and throwing furniture, which in turn set off a series of fights leading to several arrests.
"(Luther) just came into the lobby and started turning tables over," confirms Gibson. "I think it had something to do with his feud with Dr. Dre, but Dre wasn't even in Atlanta."
Neither Dre nor Campbell would comment about the feud or the incident.
But the violence didn't end there, with attendees reporting that most disruptions came from young, aspiring rap and hip-hop artists who registered for the convention in hopes of scoring a record deal or meeting established stars.
Gibson defended the open-registration policy, noting that decreased record company support over the years has made it an economic necessity. "And this is not a medical or law convention," she says. "There are no credentials we can check."
The hotel management, too, is insisting on changes before allowing the convention to return. "We have a good working relationship with 'Jack the Rapper' and we would welcome them back," says Ted Renner, the hotel's general manager. "However, we both realize there have to be some adjustments made."