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Chae Hawk, a black cap and a post MLK Day video message

MLK Day might be behind us, but the message that Dr. King left with us resounds throughout the entire year.

Yesterday recording artist Chae Hawk launched a new music video dedicated to an issue that he had been presented with exactly one year earlier – to the day. It was last year that he was refused admittance into a venue in Buffalo because he was wearing a baseball cap. When he refused to take it off he was arrested. Chae asked that BRO post the video in tribute to MLK Day, along with a Q&A to give readers some background on the incident.

What was the scene at the venue that night as far as entertainment goes? Live music, DJ? Was it a large crowd? Had there been issues/ problems at the club that had owners on high alert?

The scene was live! Live Dj was in the building – my old partner Dstar was actually spinning that night so I was excited.
The crowd was decent. I haven’t been to the venue in quite sometime so I can’t answer if they were on high alert.

Was it broadcasted at the club that there was a no hat policy? Were there any other dress code policies in place?

No. There was no sign or policy present AT THE TIME.

I take it that you walked in and were asked to remove your hat, and you opted not to?

I gave my ID to security at the door with ease. It wasn’t until I entered the corridor where an off duty officer told me to remove my cap. He gave me the option to leave it at the door or put it back in the car. That is when I told him, “I am close with the dj and I’d rather give it to him sir.” That is when he said “no” very rudely. Keep in mind my friend that I came with (standing next to me) had a hat on as well. I looked into the environment where I saw and counted about 8 individuals with their hats on having a grandiose time.

I pointed that out to the officer by saying “Well they got their hats on” That is when he said “Well you’re not!”

Were you aware that the venue was going to ask you to remove your hat, or was it a complete surprise?

Complete Surprise. I’ve been there several times with no problem. Even conducted business meetings in the environment in the past. I stayed there with a hat on too.

At that point you were arrested for not conforming to venue policy? What led up to that moment?

I let the officer know I brought over 10 people with me that evening. We were celebrating my “Remember This Night” short
film release:

and a New Era Partnership Buffalo commercial:

I can tell the man was drinking and had a chip on his shoulder. My guy next to me said “Fu&% this dude” and I agreed, and we both walked right in with my hat in my hand while he was distracted talking to one of his buddies. One minute later he grabs me by my coat and throws me out. I asked him for his badge #, no answer,  then asked him for his name, no reply with a cocky mug on his face, so I pulled out my phone ready to give him a photoshoot. When he noticed what I was doing he rushed me, threw me up against the glass window, cuffed me, then brought me back into the venue, where I was put on public display for over 35 minutes.

Do you feel that the ball cap can be a cause for concern ever? If not, how did this stereotype come about? Is there ever a cause for concern when it comes to being cautious about what patrons are wearing in a club? Have other forms of gang-inspired attire led to venues being overly cautious? Or is this an urban legend? Or was it an issue and it is no longer an issue? 

(Note: At this point of the interview I was not aware that there were others in the club wearing lids, and that no signs had been posted.) 

Possibly by how it’s worn I guess. But still. I gave them no reason to stereotype. I looked fantastic that night. I understand how they stereotype. But come on. I gave them no reason, I was wearing it how you are supposed to wear it, to the front. It was a black Buffalo Sabres fitted, the Sabres just played that night. Same cap I wore in the commercial repping my city.

Sure there could be a caution for concern and security is supposed to be smart enough to detect that. Apparently homie wasn’t the one. And that represents their organization. Sure they can decide who or who not to let in. There was no sign present though giving me that indication that I can’t where my hat. I just have a problem when you have a place playing music that attracts a connoisseur like me, while homie playing the music I used to share the stage with is rockin’ making the money flow in that establishment, PLUS!!! I’M BRINGING YOU BUSINESS. YEEZUS!

Do you think that certain rappers are more responsible for prevailing attitudes when it comes to fashion related incidents/messages? You tend to rap about peaceful measures to solve difficult racial issues. There are rappers that choose to be more hardcore and militant in their messages. Is the general public oblivious to the difference, and therefore lumps it all together? Are there rappers that legitimately instigate the issues that haunt you? Or are all forms of rap just as important to keep a balance… to offer a segment of the youth an outlet for their angst?

Thank you for asking me that. I rarely have songs dealing with racial issues, so those that know my material, know this weighed heavy on the kid. It’s tough when you have integrity and pride in what you do though, especially when the popular industry promotes Negative representation that certain public knows nothing about, and some even fear. I was blessed to grow up around all different cultures so I see people for WHO they are. I’m ALL peace treaty, but that situation for me was the last straw, especially if I’m calling this place home. I’ve been stopped multiple times at different spots, but I’m promoting all of this (Buffalo) daily.

It’s hard making a difference when sometimes it’s just you. I stay true to myself always. Snapback With Integrity is about community, not just me…

*In response to the incident, Chae and a number of progressive artists decided to produce and release a stance on the topic of a the consequences of a black man wearing a New Era (waving the Buffalo flag) hat out in a public venue, and that the message serves as an eye opener to anyone who watches the video:

Not having to answer to anyone allows me to do what I want and feel, and I feel my fans appreciate me for that. Funny while I was in cuffs plenty of people came to my rescue. This is when the off duty got nervous and was then searching me to see if I had something on me. A young kid I didn’t even know made such an uproar the cop then arrested him. So me and this complete stranger spent the night in a holding cell. My homie will remain nameless because he didn’t want the situation to tarnish his dreams. I think he wants to be a lawyer. Everything needs balance and moderation. Trust me I even love that grit, but I’m wise enough to see it all clear. These kids now just wanna be what’s cool and they watch what’s popular and copy. That’s pretty heavy shit! This is where I wanna give a shout out to all the teachers out there in the jungle. And by jungle I mean this classrooms. I do my best to mentor the youth. My company even consists of young minds who I am developing to be great leaders. I have to be responsible, and set the example, so I honor my current position I have to Make my family, my business, plus my team proud. It’s TEAM RADIO BABY!!

The roots of rap are about empowerment. Rap is now a mainstream vehicle for millions of voices. With so many voices, and such a wide range of messages, how do you make rap culture more acceptable in a venue that might be wary of cultural differences that could lead to an altercation? 

I really wanna be under the wing and do business with Steve Stoute, he’s the man that gave all this a definition. It’s called tanning. Where now hip hop culture has jumped boundaries and is now mainstream. Young people now truly embrace the culture. It’s more about the people in charge. You can’t control everyone and everything, and sometimes Shit does happen. But if you give respect you get respect, and that goes across the board.

How does the ball cap return to being just a ball cap and not a threatening article of clothing? Or does it continue to be a symbol. Or does it all come down to who is wearing it and where? 

They are symbolic, it’s part of the culture, its not just an outfit, its an expression, Can’t answer that. But I live downtown and when I walk the dog I pass New Era every day. Our city houses the top cap in the world. It blows my own mind constantly. I can’t help but to notice they advertise to people who look more like me (music artists, athletes, and models alike) more than anyone else. Not pointing fingers at the company at all, I admire them plus they hold me down and support what I do. Sheesh they even blessed my company with an exclusive cap. But after I was given the opportunity to rep the city, it felt more than silly – I was getting detained, damn fool wouldn’t let me #speakwithmycap. So Snapback with Integrity was designed for me to stay true to myself, my art, the community as well as New Era. Having a cap is now a form of expression. Why do you think NEW ERA is booming so. Shit they should promote more fitteds in the club, that means we can all make this money!

Have you ever been on the other side of the issue where you felt that certain forms of crowd control are warranted? Being in the rap music business, you probably have a better perspective than most, so is prohibiting certain colors or threads ever warranted, and if so, how does one decipher where to draw the line… or is there no line to draw?

Sure, but more when I was living out west. We live in a wild world. Maybe they should create an educational video. If New Era wants to collab with Team Radio, we would be down to create a documentary. Maybe get my dude Patrick Gallo on this. If you don’t know now you know!

Have you been harassed for any other clothing attire incidents, or was this an isolated incident?

Yes, for looking cute in a thermal.

Where do we go from here? In the year since the incident, what has changed? Obviously the video was inspired by the incident. How has the video been received?

Forward my dude. Only me Never setting foot in the establishment again until they make it right. It’s funny the owners son was in my classic video Play Me. Damn shame this had to happen, I like the kid. This is a small community and it’s getting even smaller. I reached out twice to the establishment to discuss the situation, and to really only get an apology. Their management was very off putting, so I summoned the soul of Noble Truth, and he told me what to do. So I did it.

What are a few obstacles you run into, being an artist from Buffalo? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

I now only look at the opportunity in things. My generation now is so QUICK and ready to relocate because they see the
community doesn’t support as much as they should. Hell I have been there too. I’ve lived in different cities so I am aware of the Buffalo’s habits. I am doing my very best to change that. My last album Dance Party for the Heavy Hearted is the perfect
embodiment of these betrayed expectations…

My short films make it easier for people to digest my serious heartfelt content beautifully. DPFTHH took me 4 years to make so I have to take the time to represent it properly. My goal is to Bring the world to Buffalo through my art while revitalizing the artist community in Buffalo. I am inspiring others, which is a great thing.

We need more talent locally to shine as well and do the same though. I am blessed to know how to keep my brand equity high, only because I am a master at it, and Team Radio represents creativity. If we had more money supported into the arts other talents could rise up together. I always try to keep my collaborations local first, so whatever financing I have I give to my community. We need more of that, while Inspiring my community to try to do the same. It’s like urban farming, grow locally, sell, locally, eat locally. There are plenty of people and really big organizations that can help this cause. I’ve been knocking on doors, but I will keep knocking, until I find one that believes in what I believe in and lets me in and I can share with them my plan. My company Team Radio and I are a huge asset to putting Buffalo on the map, and we make it look good too. As soon as I have more people from where I’m from  realize this more than the people outside, true progress will be in full effect.

Oh! and in 5 years I see myself prosperous, developing talent, owning more things, finding love, having kids and staying true to the gifts god gave me. AMEN.

Who else appeared in the video? Was it co-written/produced?

Quadir Lateef, My dude Bless who is the first artist I am focused on and developing under Team Radio, my good friend artist/painter Sarah Myers. Model Mandy Lawrence, My dude Mike who always wanted to be in a video and he was in town at just the right time, so we made it happen. My Teammates Richie, Casey, Connor, are featured in the end. I wanted to say thank you to my dude James Davis (Ambition & Salute) who collaborated with me once again, I really enjoy working with him plus we work really well together when it comes to executing my visions. He is super talented.

I was thankful to have my dudes Bless and Quadir come through on the track. Quadir reached out to me once the article came out. It took me sometime to come around and vent on record but it all came together, just right when the time was right. The song was intended for my follow up album, but it didn’t match the tone. But it meant a lot to me, and peeps wanted to hear about me telling my point of view. So I made it a single. Currently I’ve been fusing electronic with grimy rap experimenting like I did in ’08 with Nickel City Varsity but more progressive.


Also a big thank you to Gypsy Parlor, for allowing me to shoot at their establishment, also Mark Goldman for taking the time to sit down with me. He is an OG pioneer within the city I looked forward to collaborating with him soon. I also would like to thank Mayor Byron Brown for acknowledging my work and giving me my own day in the city of Buffalo that falls on my day of Birth (11/19) Best present ever!!!!

Snapback With Integrity – The track information and free download is available here.


Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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