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Cop Killing Prompts Push to Ban 'Gangsta' Rap

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An aspiring rapper's murder of a Las Vegas police officer has prompted a push to ban "gangsta" rap acts from Nevada college campuses and discourage casinos from booking them. Madeleine Brand speaks with John Katsilometes, a columnist for the Las Vegas Sun, about the efforts to ban rap.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

This is DAY TO DAY, from NPR News. I'm Alex Chadwick.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

And I'm Madeleine Brand. We have two stories today from opposite ends of the rap music world. First, an effort in Las Vegas to ban gangster rap acts on the strip, and also on Nevada college campuses. The local sheriff is turning up the heat after an aspiring rapper shot and killed one of his deputies last month. Joining us to talk about it is John Katsilometes. He's a columnist for the Las Vegas Sun. And welcome to the program.

Mr. JOHN KATSILOMETES (Reporter, Las Vegas Sun): Thank you, Madeleine. Good to be here.

BRAND: Now, tell us what Sheriff Bill Young wants casinos and clubs to do.

Mr. KATSILOMETES: This all started back in June, when Sheriff Young asked the Nevada Gaming Control Board to ask casinos not to book the most violent of gangster rap acts. You know, the ones whose lyrics condone and endorse violence, especially against police officers. He's very sensitive to that. That letter was in response to a series of shootings on the strip back in May that were committed by some gang members who were at a Nelly concert at the Aladdin.

Now, that letter was already written to the Control Board when Sergeant Henry Prendes was shot and killed in February by the rapper Amir Crump. And, at that time, the Gaming Control Board issued a warning to resort casinos, reminding them that they would be held accountable for any regulatory violations that occur on their property, and that was a message that if anything happens at one of these shows you could have-basically, you could have your gaming license lifted.

BRAND: And what's been the reaction?

Mr. KATSILOMETES: You know, at the casino level, it's been very cautious, and they've been really paying attention to the kind of acts and the kind of, you know, the kind of bookings they're making at their hotels. We had, specifically, this has happened already, and it was at the Rio.

Coors was in town with the Nightclub and Bar convention, and they had leased the Club Rio from Harrah's, and they had booked Snoop Dog. And this happened before, you know, the latest turbulence. And when all this happened, officials at Harrah's, who have the right to review anybody appearing on their property, told Coors to find somebody else to perform. And that act, that night, that artist became Blues Traveler. And that was just last week.

BRAND: And separately, the Nevada Board of Regents wants to prevent colleges from booking gangster rappers.

Mr. KATSILOMETES: Yeah, it's going to be a discussion of whether the regents should adopt a policy forbidding an institution from sponsoring, hosting, or booking commercial entertainment events that involve acts or performances whose purpose is to advocate felony illegal conduct, such as the commission of assault or murder. That's a segment of the agenda item. Nowhere is rap, gangster rap, or any type of music genre mentioned in this item.

I think that the regents are looking at where do you draw the line between, you know, due diligence on who you book, and infringing on first amendment rights? That's going to be what they're going to be trying to sort out at the regents meeting.

BRAND: John Katsilometes writes for the Las Vegas Sun. Thank you for joining us.

Mr. KATSILOMETES: No problem.

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