E-40 Bails on B.A.R.S. Ruckus

UPDATE!! Security was in shambles at the event and here might be why. Link to photo of craigslist wanted ad from the day before the show. Read the full story in the EBX on 12.13

Fights, delays and an early ending made a fiasco out of the Bay Area Rap Scene (B.A.R.S.) Awards Saturday, December 2 in San Mateo. Absent E-40 wins Artist of the Year. No injuries or arrests, though.

In the aftermath of the fiasco that was the Bay Area Rap Scene (B.A.R.S.) Awards, several questions come to mind.

First and foremost, will the real Bay Area rap scene please stand up? It’s cool to have pride for your hood, your city, or your region, but let’s not go overboard, yadadamean? Also, what’s the deal with rappers and their entourages? Is it really necessary to roll so deep, your crew could be mistaken for a zip code? After all, when forty people are on stage with you, the chances of someone acting a fool increases exponentially.

The Bay Area Rap Scene Awards (B.A.R.S.) started with good intentions, but ended an hour and half early Saturday, December 2 when the promoter lost control of the event and the San Mateo police dispersed the crowd. That’s regrettable, because a year’s worth of planning went into it, including securing the San Mateo Expo, an impressive list of A-list performers and presenters like E-40, Keak Da Sneak, Too $hort, Messy Marv, Guce, Yukmouth, Money B, Honest Bob, the Pack, Dem Hoodstarz, and Big Rich, plus several corporate sponsors. There was even a freakin’ red carpet, which artists and local luminaries passed through dressed to the nines (VIP tickets cost $250). We’re talking supa-stunnarific and blingdom come, not to mention a gaggle of video crews and assorted paparazzi.

The live portion of the event produced several highlights, chief among them E-40 and Keak Da Sneak performing a rousing rendition of “Tell Me When to Go,” then being joined by Turf Talk for “Muscle Cars.” San Quinn rocking through “Hell Yeah” with his son Lil’ Quinn both wearing matching black-and-orange outfits was another high-water mark. And the video montages which preceded the awards presentations were very professionally-edited — hella tight, you might say.

But storm clouds were evident from the outset. The show almost didn’t happen at all – its start delayed by at least two hours as the crowd passed through several industrial-size metal detectors – even as the rest of security was lax despite the presence of several San Mateo police officers. Cops and venue staff were overheard commenting how disorganized the B.A.R.S. seemed to be, noting that the venue had previously hosted such large-scale events as the American Music Awards. When the show finally did get underway, confusion reigned.

Before lead-off performer Quinn appeared on-stage, promoter Booyowski made an announcement for groups not performing to clear the backstage area, where artists, dance groups, and models were congregating. Folks were slow to disperse, so Quinn took matters into his own hands. “There’s nothing back there. It’s not big,” he bellowed into the mic, walking from the stagefront towards the backstage area. But this just created another problem, as what seemed like the entire Fillmore joined Quinn on stage. Before he commenced rapping, though, those folks had to be trimmed down to a modest ten homies or so. Then the stage had to be cleared again after his performance, causing yet another delay.

That’s pretty much how it went all afternoon. Rappers, it seemed, could not appear on stage by themselves. Nope, each hood had to represent large, no matter whether East Oakland, Hunters Point, or East Palo Alto. To make matters even worse, the media pit in front was infiltrated by audience members, some of whom also got on stage, making it hard to distinguish between crews, extended entourages, and random individuals. Security was practically nonexistent, having adopted a hands-off approach.

It’s somewhat of a miracle that any awards were handed out at all. E-40 left immediately after his performance -which turned out to be a smart move-so he wasn’t around to accept the Album of the Year award. Big Rich, voted Best New Artist, was in the building, however. “We brought the Bay to 106th and Park,” he reminded the crowd. “We’re 2-0,” said Guce, picking up an award with fellow SF resident Messy Marv, who used the podium to shout-out all his niggas in the pen and on the block. Just in case you care, the Freedom Fighter Award went to Rudy J. of United Playaz, who somberly told the crowd, “Oakland, E.P.A., Frisco, anywhere you go, they got a high murder rate.”

Before the event, it seemed that long-needed recognition would finally be bestowed on the region’s rappers, which could have offered hope to these troubled communities, but as KMEL DJ Rick Lee told C2tE, “it was too good to be true. It had so much promise…”

In the end, the B.A.R.S. Awards (not to be confused with the Bay Area Rap Summit) went out like a sucker. Eventually, the hapless Booyowski finally lost control over the stage, and resorted to begging SMPD to take over. The cops obliged in tried-and-true cop fashion, a phalanx of them in full riot gear literally telling people where to go – home.

Luckily, nothing ill jumped off in the parking lot, which was a relief – the vibes had gotten pretty ugly by then. And while it’s tempting to blame the rappers and their lyrical content for this turn of events, in truth, the artists kept their composure for the most part. Even their entourages didn’t actually come to blows with rival crews — a little trash-talking notwithstanding. You can’t fault the crowd either, for being hyphy during a celebration of hyphyness. The onus falls directly on the promoter, who failed at crowd management and organization. The B.A.R.S. Awards could have been big; instead, it’s a sad footnote in the annals of local hip-hop.

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