Rap: New York Station Hot 97 May Be Evicted Over Hip-Hop Shootings
Emmis Radio LLC, the owner of New York radio station Hot 97, has filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the landlord that is attempting to evict them, despite having six years left on its lease.
The New York District Council of Carpenters, which owns the Hudson Street building that houses Hot 97, filed a lawsuit last week demanding the eviction of the infamous hip-hop radio station after the recent shooting of Brooklyn based rapper, Gravy.
Gravy (born Jamal Woolard) was shot in the buttocks outside the Hudson Street building on Wednesday night (April 26) after arriving for an interview at Hot 97. His shooting was the third shooting in five years at the building involving rappers and their entourages who were visiting Hot 97's studios.
The Carpenters Union lawsuit accused the station of promoting violence and putting tenants' lives at risk. The suit cited three shootings, two bomb threats, and various altercations and also stated a complaint from Thomson Financial, which is another tenant in the building.
Emmis' lawsuit, which was filed in a Manhattan Supreme Court on Friday (May 5), seeks a court order declaring the The Carpenters Union in violation of the lease.
The suit also accuses the Union of unfairly banning visitors from coming to Hot 97 and its other two stations in the building, Kiss-FM and CD101.9.
Hot 97 claims the ban has hurt its ratings and advertising revenue because they are unable to host artists of interviews and performances.
Emmis' suit also responded to the eviction lawsuit saying, "It's not responsible for the string of violence outside the studio, which it blames on criminal acts perpetrated by third persons in the public street, outside of tenant's control."
Robert Abrahams, the Union's lawyer, responded to the Emmis lawsuit via The New York Post, saying that it was "utterly without merit" and that they agreed in writing to the restrictions on visitors.
Since Gravy's shooting, The New York Police Department has installed a video camera and stationed extra police cars outside the Hudson Street building.
Hot 97 has been plagued with shooting incidents in the past few years. Back in 2001, a shooting took place in front of the station between the entourages of Lil' Kim and Capone-N-Noreaga. When questioned about the shooting, Kim later denied the presence of two of her associates, which eventually led to her perjury and conspiracy conviction. She's presently still serving a one year and a day sentence in the Philadelphia Detention Center.
Last year, another shooting took place when The Game and his comrades attempted to enter the station to confront 50 Cent. 50 had announced to listeners that Game was being kicked out of his crew G-Unit minutes earlier. The incident resulted in Game's friend, Kevin Reed aka P-nut being shot in the leg.
New York's Hot 97 has always prided itself in being home to all things "blazin'," but it looks like things have finally gotten too hot for the radio station's landlord.
Hot 97's studios are on the seventh floor of 395 Hudson, and other tenants in the building include the Foundation Press, which publishes legal casebooks, and Thomson Tax and Accounting.
In recent years, the building has played host to a series of hip-hop-related shootings, including a 2001 incident involving members of Lil' Kim and Capone-N-Noreaga's crews (see "Lil' Kim Present At Hot 97 Shootout, Police Say"), which left one man injured and saw Kim's bodyguard Suif Jackson sentenced to 12 years in prison for firing his gun at least 20 times (see "Lil' Kim's Bodyguard Sentenced To 12 Years For His Role In Shootout"). Kim was found guilty of perjury after she told a jury that she was not present during the incident, and was sentenced to 366 days in prison (see "Lil' Kim Gets A Year And A Day In Prison").
In February 2005, Kevin Reed, a member of the Game's crew, was shot outside the Hot 97 lobby minutes after 50 Cent took to the airwaves to announce he was dropping the Compton rapper from his G-Unit stable (see "50 Drops Game From G-Unit; Shots Fired At Radio Station").
And on Wednesday, a rapper named Jamal "Gravy" Woolard was shot in the buttocks outside the building, allegedly by a man who was upset that Woolard did not let him sit in on a Hot 97 interview.
The shootings have forced the owners of the building to beef up security and crack down on the amount of people accompanying artists into Hot 97 (currently only one person and a guest are allowed into the studio at a time). The station is also required to notify the NYPD four days ahead of any guest's appearance, and as of Thursday, extra police officers were posted at 395 Hudson.
According to a source close to Hot 97, the station has had several discussions with the pension fund council about security issues, but first heard about the possibility of eviction in Friday morning's newspaper.
"There is no basis for eviction based on the lease," said the source, who asked to remain anonymous. "There have been incidents that occurred seven floors down and on the street, and as such, Hot 97 has no fault in those shootings. The lease is a legal agreement, and there is nothing in the lease that gives them the legal power to evict us."
Emmis Radio R&B/hip-hop WQHT (Hot 97) New York has won the visitor battle against its landlord, the New York City District Council of Carpenters. After a shooting outside Hot 97's studios last month, their landlord sought the station's eviction from the building. The Council of Carpenters also refused Hot 97 guests outside of artists and only with four to seven days prior notice.
However, on May 9, State Supreme Court Judge Bernard Fried granted Hot 97 a temporary restraining order against the Carpenter's Union. The judge removed the guest restrictions, including the four day prior notice for guests on Hot 97 and Emmis sister stations R&B WRKS (Kiss FM) and smooth jazz WQCD (CD101), both housed within the same office. The judge also allowed Emmis' compromise to hire a security guard for an hour before Hot 97 guests arrive, as well as install an emergency phone outside of the building for police communication. There is a follow-up preliminary injunction hearing on the temporary restraining order slated for May 19.
"We are very pleased that we received the relief we asked for from the court," said an Emmis spokesman. "We remain committed to working with the landlord to ensure a safe and secure environment for our employees, neighbors and guests, but we appreciate the court's recognition that this goal can be accomplished without the unreasonable restrictions imposed by the union that prevented us from doing business."
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