*I’ll never forget rapper Scarface’s facial expression.
The hip-hop star’s much-heralded “Scarface Icon Tour” made a stop in Lansing, MI on March 12, 2016.
Emanating from Fahrenheit Concert Venue, the sold out crowd remained hot for what was scheduled to be an hour long set. And they were certainly getting their monies worth.
Riding high off acclaim for current LP Deeply Rooted, Scarface captivated all on-hand with his incredible song catalog and masterful presence. When it came to crowd participation, the Geto Boys member had an open door policy.
Scarface would rhyme a portion of a line then invite those exuberant fans into the moment, allowing everyone in the two-level venue to finish the line in unison
Scarface was engaging near the final minutes of his stage time when, to the surprise of everyone, at least 4 gunshots rang out in the packed audience between 12:55am and 1:05am.
I stood in the upper level positioned just above the elevated stage. Before I ducked for cover I clearly saw Scarface’s reaction; his eyes widened tremendously, his mouth gaped open. The Houston native looked both shocked and horrified. I wondered if, from his vantage, he had the regrettable opportunity to witness the impact of the gunfire.
READ RELATED STORY: Geto Boys’ Scarface Hospitalized Under Mysterious Circumstances
Afterwards, Scarface and I crossed paths in the lobby of the neighboring hotel, but he and his associates declined to comment on what happened. He’d entered with his entourage behind him, his head hidden under the hood of a black ICON Tour sweater. His face showed anger and disappointment as he grumbled to his followers to keep in step.
Until the night turned violent I was enjoying every bit of Scarface’s “Icon” performance; having crossed my music consumer path countless times since the late 1980s with Geto Boys and as a solo act, Face took us through the steps of his many hits.
Decked in a black Icon Tour t-shirt and matching ball cap, black jeans, and grey-ish-purple Under Armor sneakers, Scarface led delighted fans through all 3 verse of Geto Boys favorite, “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.” I’m sure his group mates Willie D and Bushwick Bill don’t mind.
After performing “Smile,” which features the late 2Pac, Scarface surprised the packed house by bringing Pac’s fellow Digital Underground member Money B on stage; he performed his classic verse from “I Get Around,” then informed all in attendance that “Scarface was Tupac’s favorite rapper of all time!”
Scarface did well getting around his 12 solo albums; he performed “I Seen a Man Die” from 1994’s The Diary, “Southside” from ‘97’s The Untouchable, “Look Me In My Eyes” from 2000’s Last of a Dying Breed, and “Guess Who’s Back” and “My Block” from 2002’s The Fix.
One of the coolest moments of the night saw Scarface take a seat on stage to play acoustic guitar. Watching him stripped down with no lyrics or thumping bass was a classy, grown-up display of artistry, also educational for those unfamiliar with his background as a musician and producer.
READ RELATED STORY: Scarface on Cop Shootings: ‘I Feel Like We’re Being Hunted’ (Watch)
Shortly after he performed “Never” from 2007’s Made is when the shooting happened. What surprised me more than Money B or Scarface’s guitar solo was that someone managed to get a weapon inside Fahrenheit Concert Venue. While standing near the entrance I saw their security patting down and using a detector wand on each person before they entered.
Patrons fled the building as quickly as possible as the frightened concert goers bombarded the exits.
Once I was outside I found myself face-to-face with an army of armed police officers, many of them headed into the building. Local law enforcement blocked off the entire area, surrounded the building, and 1 of 2 officers posted directly in front of where I’d parked was shielding himself in a Kevlar vest, loading his automatic rifle.
I spoke with an unnamed policeman I encountered at a stop light shortly after I’d left the venue. He informed me two people were shot. No information regarding their identity or condition was available at that time.
Newspaper Lansing State Journal reported this morning three men ages 25, 29, and 33 were shot, victims injuries were serious but not life threatening.
Despite the turn of events I thank Scarface for a great performance I’ll always remember. Unfortunately someone’s negative behavior left him with one he likely wishes he could forget.
Known as “The Word Heavyweight Champion,” Mr. Joe Walker is a biographer, journalist, and columnist, currently a senior writer for SoulTrain.com, staff writer for Muskegon Tribune Newspaper, and writer for Concrete Magazine’s Concrete615.com. Also managing editor of Liquid Arts & Entertainment Magazine, Walker’s acclaimed, award-winning work has been published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. Like him on Facebook, follow on Twitter @mrjoewalker, and visit his official blog.