Fantino labels rap star `criminal'

April 14, 2004
Toronto Star
By Betsy Powell

Police Chief Julian Fantino is no fan of rapper 50 Cent, the one-time drug-dealer turned mega-selling hip-hop star.

Last night after a town hall meeting in 31 Division, Fantino twice branded the Juno Award-winning rapper a "criminal," and said he wrote several times to former federal immigration minister Denis Coderre asking him to prevent the musician from crossing into Canada last summer, saying his lyrics advocate raping women and murder.

He was elaborating on a point made during the two-hour meeting at the Christian Centre Church on Jane St., north of Finch, which included a question-and-answer session.

A woman in the audience asked the chief whether something could be done to prevent the sale of toy guns. Fantino said there's little anyone can do since they're not illegal, though he said police run an ongoing exchange program allowing families to trade replica guns for another toy. "We can't police everything," he then said, turning to the negative influence of rap that glorifies violence.

Afterward, a radio reporter challenged Fantino, saying she and her friends had grown up with music videos and rap but hadn't been "influenced" to pick up a gun.

Fantino took exception to the comment. He said he wasn't speaking generally about all rap but was "talking about how people are influenced by the negatives that do happen to be out there. If you're influenced positively by 50 Cent, who talks about killing people and raping women, and killing cops, then God bless you, I leave it to you to make that rational judgment as to what you want to believe in."

He noted there was a homicide after the performer played in Toronto last July. Msemaji Granger, 24, of Hamilton was shot to death as a large crowd of people was leaving Ontario Place after fireworks and a concert at the M Molson Amphitheatre featuring 50 Cent and Jay-Z. The killing is unsolved.

50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' was the best selling international CD in Canada last year.

According to a recent story in the New York Times, 50 Cent attended the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas in January to promote an "interactive sex DVD," to be released this year, featuring 50 Cent and rap group G-Unit. Viewers can select partners, sexual positions, camera angles and whether the women are "naughty" or "nice."