If you attend rap shows, then I can bet 9/10 of you have had a bad run-in with venue security. And if you’re media, I can bet that the odds are even higher.

After years of dealing with the dirty looks, attitude, unreasonable control and added stress, I would just like to say – “Hey security; I’m not the enemy.” And just like you, I have a job to do.

It’s show night. After picking up my media pass or wristband at the front of the venue or festival grounds, I’m always excited. My Canon’s charged, the card is empty and the f stop and shutter speed are set to snap the artist I’ve come to cover for the first three songs (with no flash), which is, of course, the show photographer regulations. But as I skip towards the media pit, I’m usually greeted by a burly, scowling individual in a neon vest, who always has something to say in order to suck any joy out of the process. Yes, I have a wristband for you to flash your tiny flashlight on to inspect. Yes, I know that I can only be in the pit for the first three songs and have to wait until five minutes before the show starts to even enter it. Yes, I’ll move my bag. Yes, I won’t use flash. Yessssss.

We get it bro; your uniform makes you somebody. But what does my media pass make me?

Since arriving in Europe, I’ve covered three major music festivals and earned my spot in the media pit shooting pics of Outkast, Pusha T, Wiz Khalifa and Rick Ross to name a few. The experience of festival-life overseas has been ridiculously amazing and I had no complaints except one important detail – security was a bitch.

I was yelled at, prodded, and herded out of the pit after the third song of each act at all three festivals like I was in trouble. But I didn’t come to play and I don’t like when people touch me. They treated media like we were doing something wrong and to make matters worse, I didn’t even speak their language. It was all completely unnecessary.

No publication pays enough to deal with the egos of burly men who are still bitter that they were cut from their college football team. It’s not part of the job description. I came to take photos of the artists and write a review for my editor, who is expecting a quality piece of work, and the public, who reads it, not to deal with those that have zero respect for our industry. Do they even know what artist is on the stage behind them? Or did they just sign up to control?

And apparently, it’s not just the media that has to deal with the power-hunger. According to Dev Hynes, the Blood Orange front man, he and girlfriend were assaulted after their Lollapalooza set recently by venue security and I even witnessed him come out to his Flow Festival performance in Finland on crutches after tweets that he would be pressing charges for his injustice. Don’t tell me you’re here to protect the artist when everyone needs protection from you.

I just want to ask the next security at the next show that cops an attitude for no reason: What did we ever do to you? What is this vendetta you security have against us media? I’m here to do a job, so how about you do yours. Which is not, FYI, making my life difficult with your harassment and constant need to patronize me. It is to regulate the drunken people in the crowd and make sure that everyone’s safe. You don’t have to worry about me. I’m not here to jump onstage like a groupie, or sneak backstage after the show, so what’s with the attitude? Are you carrying around large amounts of baggage and think that I look like a great outlet? Because I’m not.

The show industry is full of different careers that are forced to work together. Artists, managers, booking agents, promoters, publicists, DJs, media and security. There needs to be an understanding and a respect for each other and our responsibilities in order to ensure that everything runs smoothly and everyone has the ability to get what they need from the experience. These are people’s occupations, here. Lives. Control issues are disrupting the flow. There should not be that much unnecessary tension between two people who are just trying to work.

I enjoy what I do and I try to get the best shots and the most detailed coverage I can throughout a hectic show, so security, stop sucking the holy moments out of everything I love about being the girl with the camera at the hip-hop show.

I respect you and I demand the same respect back.


Samantics is a weekly column, written by columnist Samantha O’Connor, highlighting and discussing the Toronto hip-hop community – the talent, the identity, the events, the slang, the industry and all things in between.

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