Study examines connections between live music and violence

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- A Madison artist is teaming up with researchers to challenge beliefs about the connection between hip-hop and violence at local music venues.

"It's difficult to fight when it's this unfounded thing that everybody believes in," Pacal Bayley says of the notion that hip-hop performances lead to violence.

Better known at DJ Pain 1, producer Bayley is well-known in the Madison hip-hop scene - which he says loses ground when venues don't welcome the local artists attempting to grow their fan base in Madison.

"If the popular perception is that our very presence somehow has some inherent risk of violence associated with it, that's also damaging to us," says Bayley. "We can't gain the type of public support that we want. We can't gain the type of media attention that we need."

Incidents involving police have sparked numerous temporary or indefinite bans on hip-hop performance at local venues -- including Brink Lounge, which announced a ban on hip-hop performance after police were called to a fight at a hip-hop party in 2009.

The owner of Brink Lounge did not return NBC15's request for an interview at the time of airing, but an employee responded over the phone saying that there was not presently a ban on hip-hop acts at Brink -- but that the venue focused on jazz and blues performances.

More recently, The Frequency announced and then retracted a ban on hip-hop performance after a 2016 fight left a staff member injured. The announcement of the ban prompted a mix of support and backlash, and owner Darwin Sampson canceled the ban and issued an apology the next week.

NBC15 reached out to The Frequency about the incident and the ban and did not receive a response at time of airing.

Convinced that research would not support the perception of Madison hip-hop shows as violent, Bayley and Dr. Karen Reece, who are both part of the Urban Community Arts Network, partnered with UW undergraduate researchers to make a clearer picture out of Madison Police Department data. Researchers studied each time police were called to a music venue for a disturbance between 2008-2016 - a total of 4,624 calls.

They then searched through data provided by venues as well as old calendars, websites and records to match the calls to the concert that was occurring at the time - allowing them to see what genre of music was being performed. They then assessed the number of violent incidents (separated by type of incident and whether anyone was charged) and tallied them by genre.

The results of the study indicated that regardless of the type of crime, hip-hop performances never ranked highest in violence. On calls where charges were filed, hip-hop actually fell behind both country and electronic music in number of incidents. You can read more of the study here.

Below is the Summary of Major Findings from the study's abstract which summarizes some of the researchers' findings.

Summary of Major Findings


Live Hip-Hop shows do not show up as associated with the highest proportions of police calls, offenses, or violence using any analysis.


A standardized measure of police calls for service across venues by genre shows that mixed DJ sets that may or may not include Hip-Hop, Country music, and EDM showed higher call numbers than live Hip-Hop


The proportion of police calls for service that result in charged offenses shows that Hip-Hop ends up slightly below Country music and electronic dance music, and very close to Caribbean Mix and Karaoke/Open Mic.


Ratios of the proportion of service calls coded as violent using a less restrictive method showed that DJ sets, Karaoke/Open Mic, Punk Mix, and Country music had higher proportions of violent calls for service than live Hip-Hop.


Ratios of the proportion of service calls coded as violent using a more restrictive method showed that DJ sets, Karaoke/Open Mic, Punk Mix, Latin, and Hard Rock/Heavy Metal had higher proportions of violent calls for service than live Hip-Hop.


Ratios of the proportion of charged offenses coded as violent using a less restrictive method shows that live Hip-Hop comes in below Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, World Mix, DJ sets, Latin, Jazz, Performance Arts, and Karaoke/Open Mic.


Ratios of the proportion of charged offenses coded as violent using a more restrictive method shows that live Hip-Hop comes in below Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, World Mix, DJ sets, Jazz, Latin, Country, American/Classic Rock, Caribbean, Folk, and Karaoke/Open Mic.


The data set included 11 calls for service coded as a weapons violation, and 13 offense charges coded as a weapons violation. None of these cases were associated with a live Hip-Hop performance or DJ set that was exclusively Hip-Hop music.

When Madison Police were asked if the results of this study reflect their experiences responding to calls, they said that MPD does not log the genre of music being performed at venues where they respond to incidents.

Copyright: WMTV 2017