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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
9/12/2003 6:52:46 AM

Tags and topics realted to this article include Chingy.

A free rap concert at the Gallery at Market East this afternoon ended in a free-for-all that sent two people to the hospital and forced police to shut down the mall.

The two who were injured apparently were knocked to the ground in one of several large crowd surges near where rap artist Chingy was performing in the basement level of the mall on Ninth and Market Streets.

The ruckus began moments after Chingy concluded his performance, which began about 4 p.m., and ducked into a side door of Modell's Sporting Goods. The crowd - estimated to be in the thousands - grew out of control, witnesses said. And pandemonium erupted, police said.

A portion of the crowd, apparently trying to track down Chingy, surged into Modell's.

"They were screaming. They were taking their clothes off," said an employee of Modell's who declined to give her name. "They mobbed him like he was Michael Jackson."

Meanwhile, police responded, and a push-and-shove contest erupted as officers cleared out Modell's and ordered that the store security gates be dropped.

Apparently unsatisfied, the crowd began chanting.

"'We want Chingy,' and, 'Hell no, we won't go,'" said the Modell's worker.

Chingy, however, escaped unharmed.

Police carrying nightsticks then told other store operators to drop their protective gates, and officers began herding the spectators jamming the lower level to exits. The Gallery, which normally closes at 8 on Fridays, was shut down, although none of the stores appeared to have been damaged.

At this point, hundreds of youngsters spilled out onto Market Street, creating a traffic jam at the height of the homebound rush, and disrupting SEPTA operations.

Chief Police Inspector Frankie Heyward of the Command Inspection Bureau took charge at the scene, hurriedly assembling more than 60 officers at 10th and Filbert Streets. The officers then marched toward the Gallery and nearby streets to continue moving the crowd and protect workers heading for home. No arrests were reported.

Meanwhile, emergency crews from the Fire Department were tending to the injured. Police said two people were taken to Hahnemann University Hospital. The hospital declined to give information on the extent of their injuries.

Chingy (as in the "ching ching" sound of money) is the stage name for Howard Bailey, a St. Louis hard-core hip-hop artist in his early 20s who has had a spectacular rise in the last few months with the introduction of works such as "Jackpot" and "Right Thurr."

A profile in his hometown newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in July described Chingy as "a St. Louis rapper, armed with a Midwest urban twang, fresh flow of lyrics, new beats, good looks and a wall of security, savors the taste of newfound national success."

The paper said that "his appearances at local record stores, nightspots and even a bowling alley cause hysteria as fans scurry for a glimpse."

In an interview with the Post-Dispatch in March, Chingy said he had been rapping since he was 8. He described his art as "street calligraphy."

"It's street words written in a beautiful form or fashion. Reality rap is what I rap about, things I've been through or seen or want to do or things I couldn't do."

Today's free concert was sponsored by WPHI-FM 103.9 the Beat, City Blue, the Gallery, Capitol Records and an organization called Disturban tha Peace.

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