A concert in Little Rock, from a musician at the top of his field, has been cancelled under pressure from Mayor Mark Stodola. The incumbent mayor worried that a concert held by the rapper from Memphis posed too much risk to public safety.
26-year old Demario Dwayne White, Jr. has performed as Moneybagg Yo since 2012. During that time there has been a pair of shootings at his concerts. He was arrested himself in March of 2016 on drug and gun charges. But the Memphis rapper is also at the top of his game – and Little Rock is missing out. His latest release, in August, nearly topped the Billboard charts, coming in at number five. That’s in thanks to a distribution deal with Interscope Records and joining the label of one of popular music’s bigger stars – Yo Gotti.
But Mayor Stodola sees a public safety threat in allowing Demario Dwayne White to rap in Little Rock. He’s worried that police – stretched thin by the Arkansas State Fair – wouldn’t be able to guarantee safety at the Metroplex.
Stodola’s concern comes in the wake of a shooting at a concert at the Power Ultra Lounge downtown that left more than two dozen wounded. The mayor and others blamed the shooting in part on violent imagery in the rapper Finesse2Tymes’s music and connections to Memphis gangs.
Stodola had planned an emergency city Board of Directors meeting in advance of Friday’s concert and was seeking a legal means to block it – despite an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette account that the city attorney cautioned him about First Amendment rights. The Pulaski County Quorum Court previously made an aborted attempt at suppressing existing rights to perform music. Check out KUAR coverage here, here, and here.
Promoters and the venue ultimately scrapped the event after consulting with the city. So, as it stands Little Rock denizens won’t be able to see an artist at the top of the Billboard charts because Mayor Stodola says he can’t guarantee its safety. His office did not respond to a request for comment.