Ever heard of the New York Police Department’s “Hip-Hop Squad?” Most people haven’t, but apparently they’re pretty well known in the hip hop industry. And according to a source, the New York Post reported Aug. 29, they also have a watch list and in light of the recent Suge Knight shooting in Los Angeles, they’ve become a bit more vigilant in their duties. Among recently added names to the watch list are A-listers in the music biz — rapper Drake and singer Chris Brown.
The Post explains that the “Hip-Hop Squad” are a group of undercover police officers who work the club circuit in an effort to keep a cap on the violence at parties and shows at hip hop venues. By maintaining a watch list of rappers, singers and musicians that have beefs with each other or are particularly prone to trouble, they are able to better monitor situations at nightclubs by being on-hand and ready for flare-ups that might result in violence or shootings. All the “Hip-Hop Squad” asks of nightclub owners and managers is that they give police a heads-up when someone or several someones on the list will be at their particular nightclub.
According to the paper’s sources, the watch list maintained by the “Hip-Hop Squad” includes Fabolous, Wiz Khalifa, Young Jeezy, Fat Joe, Jim Jones and Lil Wayne. Along with the newly added Drake and Chris Brown, French Montana has also become part of the list.
Two rappers on the list, Pittsburgh-based Wiz Khalifa and Atlanta’s Young Jeezy, co-headlined a recent concert in Mountain View, Calif., where a rap promoter, 38-year-old Eric Johnson, was shot five times backstage (he would die later at a nearby hospital) after the show had ended. He had been promoting an after-party in nearby San Jose that was being hosted by Young Jeezy.
In a follow-up probe, a search warrant was executed on Young Jeezy’s tour bus, where an assault rifle was allegedly found. Young Jeezy was arrested on suspicion of owning an illegal firearm. Five others on his tour bus were also arrested on various charges.
As for the new names added to the watch list, Chris Brown hosted the MTV Video Music Awards pre-party at 1Oak nightclub where Suge Knight was shot. A suspect in that shooting has yet to be named and various reports indicate that Suge Knight may not have been the intended target.
The unidentified source told the Post: “All New York club owners are required to inform the Hip-Hop Police in advance if anyone on the watch list is coming in. They want to be there to monitor the crowd and in case any trouble starts. They don’t want any situations like the Suge Knight shooting. If something does go down, they want to already be on the scene.”
A second insider told the Post that people in the industry are familiar with the “Hip-Hop Squad.” For the most part, the police officers are a welcome presence at nightclubs and shows.
“It’s better to have them on hand,” they said. “They’re not there to bother any of these artists, but make sure things run like they’re supposed to run. The other part of it is, there’s a lot of really street-leaning gangster guys on the fringes of the industry… The police task force keeps tabs on who is around certain rappers and what movements they are going through.”