CHICAGO — With the adult entertainment applications of virtual reality rapidly unfolding in new and untested ways, the quashing of rapper Chief Keef’s virtual concert in Chicago last weekend poses a troublesome precedent that is worthy of monitoring by digital media industry stakeholders.
The 19-year-old Chicago rapper known as Chief Keef was slated to perform at Pilsen’s Redmoon Theater in Chicago — but the theater reportedly canceled the concert after the city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, requested the artistic clampdown over concerns that Keef’s music promotes violence, and presents “a significant public safety risk.”
Characterized by Chief Keef as a “Stop the Violence” benefit concert, the appearance was intended to raise funds for the family of an infant that was hit and killed by a car allegedly involved in the killing of fellow Chicago rapper “Capo.”
Keef was not dissuaded by Emanuel’s prohibition, however, and in lieu of his live Chicago appearance, was featured as a hologram at the Craze Fest, in Hammond, Indiana, located approximately 25 miles from The Windy City.
Keef’s virtual appearance was short-lived, however, when local police literally pulled the plug on the performance after the first song — ordering the crowd of 3,000 attendees to leave the venue.
According to Hammond police commander Pat Vicardi, the show’s promoters were warned that it would be shut down if Keef performed.
“We spoke to the promoter several times, and they assured us [Chief Keef] would not be performing,” Vicari said, drawing no distinction between an in-person appearance and the virtual presence beamed to the venue by Hologram USA from a studio in Beverly Hills, Calif.
“Shame on the mayor and police chief of Hammond for shutting down a voice that can create positive change in a community in desperate need, and for taking away money that could have gone to help the victims’ families,” Hologram USA CEO Alki David stated. “This was a legal event and there was no justification to shut it down besides your glaring disregard for the First Amendment right to free speech.”