Police were searching for rapper Young Buck in connection with a stabbing at the Vibe Awards, an assault apparently sparked when Buck’s musical mentor, Dr. Dre, was punched just before being handed a lifetime achievement award.
Buck fled the Santa Monica airport hangar where the awards show was being taped Monday night, police Lt. Frank Fabrega said in a statement. A warrant was being prepared alleging assault with a deadly weapon.
The incident was sparked as Snoop Dogg and Vibe magazine founder Quincy Jones were about to give Dre a lifetime achievement award. A man later identified as Jimmy James Johnson approached Dre, who was seated at a table in front of the stage, and appeared to ask for an autograph before punching the veteran hitmaker, police said.
People began shoving, chairs were thrown and punches flew. Some in the audience of about 1,000 scurried for the exits. Alicia Keys, the night’s top winner with awards for artist of the year and best R&B song, was among those who fled.
Johnson was dragged away by security staff, but then suffered a serious stab wound when he was attacked by a number of people, including Buck, whose real name is David Darnell Brown, according to police. He is signed to Dr. Dre’s record label as part of the G-Unit clique, which was named best group by the music magazine.
“Brown is clearly depicted (on videotape) as holding a knife after the assault and is one of a number of fight participants that was pepper-sprayed by officers in their attempt to stop this fight,” Police Chief James Butts told a news conference. “We’re asking Mr. David Darnell Brown to surrender himself to police.”
Johnson, 26, was in stable condition at a hospital.
“It is unfortunate that an event so many people worked very hard to create has been tainted by the actions of a few individuals,” Kenard Gibbs, president of Vibe, said in a statement.
Many in the constantly feuding rap community speculated that longtime Dre antagonist Suge Knight, who attended the awards, arranged for Dre to get punched. Suge and Dre started the legendary Death Row record label together in the late 1980s, then had a bitter separation over money and the violence that has surrounded Knight during his 15 years in the music business.
Knight denied any involvement in the attack on Dre.
“One thing about me, if I do something, I’m (taking responsibility),” Knight told reporters after the show. “I’m not an idiot. See, an idiot would go out there and do stuff.”
Buck, a native of Nashville, Tenn., is a member of superstar 50 Cent’s G-Unit posse. He released his debut solo album, “Straight Outta Ca$hville,” in August, and it debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard charts.
For those who listen to Buck and G-Unit’s hardcore rhymes, it’s no surprise that Buck would spring to the defense of his godfather Dre, one of the architects of gangsta rap. And although there were metal detectors at the door, performers aren’t typically searched when they enter an awards show.
It wasn’t the first hip-hop awards show to be interrupted by violence: The 2000 Source Awards were marred by fights — and then got their highest TV ratings ever.
After the Vibe fracas was squelched Monday night, the taping continued. The show, broadcast Tuesday night on UPN, was seamlessly edited to remove any trace of the attack.
“They can’t stop me. I don’t care,” Dre said on television as he accepted his award, showing no signs of injury.