Recent shooting incidents connected with hip hop artists are raising concerns that the multi-billion-dollar music industry is being slammed by a riptide of street violence: the unsolved murder of Chinx in New York, the murder of a Chief Keef associate in Chicago, a shooting outside Rick Ross's Atlanta headquarters, and now an alleged assassination plot on Lil Wayne.
Hip hop superstar Lil Wayne holds the Billboard record of the most "Hot 100" hit songs across all music genres. That translates into hundreds of millions of dollars. In April, he narrowly missed being killed when his tour bus was shot up in Atlanta.
Now comes shocking allegations from prosecutors in Georgia that his very own mentor and Cash Money music label head Bryan "Birdman" Williams and his new protégé, Jeffrey "Young Thug" Williams, were behind it.
The indictment mentions Birdman and Young Thug, but only charges a third man as the gunman. His name is Jimmy Winfrey, who appeared in a Young Thug "Halftime" video holding a gun prosecutors say is very similar to the one used in the tour bus shooting. It also says all three are members of the Bloods street gang and that the shooting was motivated by Lil Wayne's desire to break free from his contract with Cash Money.
When Birdman would not release Lil Wayne's latest album, he turned to Jay-Z and signed a deal with his music streaming service Tidal. Now Birdman is suing Jay-Z.
Whatever is going on behind the scenes, experts believe the Feds are already watching closely.
The timing of this is also adding to the tension. Summer is the main touring season for artists, when they make millions of dollars being on the road. And the fact that they're moving around can make them moving targets.