Is Corporate America to Blame for Hip-Hop Violence?

Corporate Culpability?

Both the Lil' Kim and 50 Cent shootings happened at Hot 97, New York City's No. 1 hip-hop radio station. Artists often come to the station, where they are encouraged to publicly knock their rivals. On Feb. 28, 50 Cent was pressed over and over about his faltering relationship with his labelmate and former protégé Game.

"Every record that he's selling is based on me being on his record with him," 50 Cent said.

"Was there a point when you felt he was being ungrateful about this?" asked the Hot 97 host.

"Yeah!" said 50 Cent. "That's why it bugged me out. I think he has a problem with my position. I think he'd like to be 50 Cent, like the head of the situation."

Immediately after the interview, bullets started flying outside the record station's offices, and a member of Game's entourage was wounded.

It was only a few days later that 50 Cent's new album from Interscope "The Massacre" was released, selling 1.1 million copies in a mere five days and earning the distinction of the second-best opening week in the history of hip-hop, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Soon afterward, he and Game called a truce and donated $250,000 to the Boys Choir of Harlem. Some wondered if the whole thing had been a publicity stunt.

"Some of this is hype, and some of it is not," New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told ABC News. "You know, cutting through just what is and what isn't is not that easy." However, Kelly said, this case was not confusing. "Our detectives think that this shooting was real. Fifteen minutes later, there was apparently a retaliatory shooting at another record company location."

Talk show host Wendy Williams, a former Hot 97 employee who now works at WBLS in New York City, suggests that her former employers may instigate feuds and even may be delighted when they lead to violence. Executives from Hot 97 declined to speak with "Nightline." But insiders say it is not just the radio stations that stand to gain from violence in hip-hop; it's also the major corporate-owned record labels.

"Interscope by itself is by far the largest hip-hop record company," notes David Mays, CEO of The Source, a magazine dedicated to hip-hop. "The argument can be made that they [Interscope officials] have an interest in this violence taking place and they've done nothing to date to take any positive action to try to address the issue."

Interscope officials also declined an interview.

Unfair Scrutiny?

Hip-hop mogul Damon Dash -- former CEO of Roc-a-Fella Records and current CEO of Damon Dash Music Group -- says that hip-hop is being unfairly scrutinized. "We're under the microscope so much, anytime something negative happens from anybody within the hip-hop demographic or culture, it's automatically blamed on the music," Dash told ABC News.

Dash also argued that some criminal activity -- and some unfair law enforcement scrutiny -- comes because "a lot of people that are successful in hip-hop are definitely coming from a very extreme circumstance."

But Sharpton isn't having it. "They can't use that excuse to me," Sharpton says. "I come out of the same 'hood. I come out the same kind of background, which is why I know we don't need this perpetuated. We need this to be dealt with."

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