Bad Rap In Vegas

Clark County Sheriff Bill Young is cracking down on casinos and other venues that book gangster rap acts following the shooting death of a Las Vegas Metro Police officer in February at the hand of an aspiring rapper.

Young contacted the state Gaming Control Board following the death of Sgt. Henry Prendes. The officer was allegedly gunned down by Amon “Trajik” Crump while investigating a domestic violence call. Young persuaded the board to warn casinos they’ll be held accountable for any violence that occurs during gangster rap performances, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

The sheriff told the paper that venues booking gangster rappers, including more mainstream acts like 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg, are asking for trouble.

“The entertainment industry,” he said, “should be ashamed of itself for promoting this gangster rap genre that espouses violence, mistreatment of women, hatred for the authority of police officers and emulates drug dealers and two-bit thugs.

“It’s not a good message for our young people, and it’s not a good message for our community.”

The shooting death of Missouri rapper Fat Tone and several fights and a shooting following a Nelly concert at the Aladdin Hotel & Casino last year were just a couple of examples of what Young is working to prevent. The most notorious case is the still-unsolved murder of Tupac Shakur in 1996.

The crackdown put the kibosh on a March 8th Snoop Dogg concert at a Coors-sponsored party at Club Rio. The rapper didn’t appear, allegedly because of pressure from local law enforcement, and was replaced by Blues Traveler.

The OPM Nightclub located in the Forum Shops at Caesars, which plays only hip-hop music, is one of the venues under scrutiny. Owner Michael Goodwin said his club has a strict dress code – he even turned away rapper Nelly and his crew for not complying – and plenty of security on hand at all times.

“My crowd base is upscale urban individuals who love to dance to hip-hop,” he told the Sun. “They are executives and business people. We’ve had fights, but no more than any other club.”

Young has attracted an influential ally in his quest to stop the violence in Steve Wynn, owner of Wynn Las Vegas. Wynn told the paper that gangster rappers bringing entourages that are “absolutely worthless” and on “testosterone overload” are not welcome in his casinos.

Jan Jones, Harrah’s Entertainment senior VP of communications and government relations, told the paper she also shares Wynn’s opinion.

“Why do we, as the No. 1 resort destination in the world, want to jeopardize our reputation for safety by bringing in gangster rap groups that encourage violence?” she said. “It’s counter-intuitive.

“Las Vegas is about fun, entertainment and excitement. It’s not about encouraging disruptive activities.”

However, members of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada are up in arms about the crackdown on gangster rap, calling it unlawful censorship.

“This is an effort by regulators to bully, intimidate and threaten casinos in a totally inappropriate manner,” ACLU Executive Director Gary Peck told the Sun. “Clearly, they are playing with fire.”

Meanwhile, Snoop Dogg has strayed a bit from his gangster image. The “Murder Was The Case” performer has appeared in a Chrysler commercial playing golf with Lee Iacocca and is about to launch a new venture, a Snoop Dogg-branded line of products for dogs including leashes, toys, beds, apparel and treats.

“Snoop Dogg’s love goes beyond people – it is for living creatures throughout the universe,” he said in a statement. “How can I be Snoop Dogg and not show my love for pets?”

Even controversial rapper Ice-T, whose song “Cop Killer” on 1992’s Body Count caused a major brouhaha with law enforcement, made the transition to acting – ironically in police detective roles – in the 1991 movie “New Jack City” and his ongoing co-starring role in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”