In 2000, when a record company called Warner Bros. began promoting hip-hop and its newfangled sound through its Warner Center concerts. The event—whose name was a play on the Hollywood sign—was the culmination of a year spent in the studio producing the soundtrack to The Departed, a film starring Michael Caine and based on the novel The Da Vinci Code. It took place in a downtown Los Angeles venue that was originally the former home of Elton John. In 2004, it was transformed into the West Coast arena known as the Staples Center, a shiny new home to a few of the largest independent and regional groups in hip-hop.
In 2007, the festival moved to Staples. The show was held on the night before the opening of the 2016 Olympics. The music was great—Bruno Mars, J. Cole, and Ty Dolla $ign. The crowd was large, the stage was large, the lights on the outside were massive. But what was most telling was the way the music was received. In the days and weeks ahead of the show, everyone was talking about the concert and the artists onstage, and some went so far as to suggest that the show did not live up to the hype. One of the most prominent critics, Pitchfork, called it “so-so,” with one writer praising “a great deal of pretentions.”
At the time, Billboard estimated that the concert generated more revenue than the show—and, while the crowd was slightly smaller, the amount of money generated was still astounding. The year before, Warner Bros. had been so anxious about a record-breaking performance that the event’s headliner had never made it to the show in the first place. (The star’s reps did not respond to a request for comment.) Last year, the festival said that the show had sold out the entire day.
“We can’t really explain why it ended,” Warner Bros. Entertainment chairman and CEO Brett Yormark said at the time. “We just thought it could work.”
But what happened next is a little more complicated. The night of the concert, there were two separate arrests—one for battery on a police officer and another for aggravated assault of a police officer—and two other minor crimes: For resisting arrest and allegedly punching a security guard. According to police records, the violence started when a security guard grabbed the rapper’s bag from a man’s back, dragging it down the hallway and throwing it. He then punched the dude again
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