FROM THE BIRMINGHAM MERCURY
Jun 20 2010 by Steve Jones
THEIR faces contorted with hate, young gang members spit bile about their rivals into microphones.
Violent rap music has been blamed for sparking bloodshed in the US, including the murders of superstars Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.
Now Birmingham could face a similar threat as the Sunday Mercury has learned a bitter hip-hop feud may be behind a multiple shooting in a Digbeth club last weekend.
Four young music fans were gunned down outside the Custard Factory following an “urban music” event early on Sunday morning.
As detectives continue to hunt for the gunman, gangland sources have claimed the shooting is part of a feud between junior elements of the notorious Burger Bar Boys and Johnson Crew.
The gunman, they claim, was looking to target members of the Aston-based B6 Slash gang which is linked to the Johnsons.
He is alleged to be part of the B21 Bang Bang gang, an offshoot of the Burgers, and is understood to have been the victim of a stabbing by B6 Slash rivals weeks ago.
Both young groups are trying to make a name for themselves by breaking into the lucrative UK urban music scene – posting videos of rap songs containing graphic gun images and lyrics about shootings and murder.
There are now fears of a summer of retribution between the two gangs, who take their names from Birmingham postcodes.
“Rivalry between gangs used to be all about drugs, turf, dealing, etc, but this is a whole new thing,” a gangland source told the Sunday Mercury.
‘‘Both B6 and B21 are trying to make it in the music industry and that’s what all this is stemming from.
‘‘These are young guys and they don’t want territory, what they want is respect.
“The whole music scene is spilling over onto the streets.
‘‘These guys aren’t just rapping about killing each other, they are taking it up on the streets.
“There is definitely going to be more of this to come.
‘‘What the cops are worried about is a summer of violence and retribution and nobody wants that. Police and mediators are trying to defuse things at the moment, but tensions out there on the street are very high.”
One gang insider who asked not to be named, said: “People are preparing hitlists on the street, and we just don’t know if we can contain it.
“This shooting has set us back five years. There is going to be retribution.”
B6 Slash members were linked to the 2008 murder of Matthew Sutherland, 29, who was killed after a drum and bass night at a Birmingham club.
Last Sunday’s shooting took place at the Space 2 venue, part of the Custard Factory site.
Three young men, aged 19, 23 and 25, are recovering after suffering gunshot wounds to their legs, while a 25 year-old woman was shot in the foot.
No other details about the injured have been released by West Midlands Police.
Sources claim B6 Slash gangsters were recently involved in an incident with a northern gang affiliated with the Burgers, the Handsworth-based group behind the 2003 New Year’s murders of innocent teenagers Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis.
Factory Events, which promoted last Sunday’s urban music event, has said they will not hold similar nights in the city again following the latest violence, which made national headlines.
Meanwhile, Birmingham City Council plans a full review of the licence granted to the Space 2 venue, which has been asked to provide proof that its CCTV cameras were operating properly before the shooting.
Both B6 Slash and B21 Bang Bang gangs have posted chilling videos online in which they rap about carrying guns, murdering rivals and dealing drugs.
The B6 crew are said to be having more success than their rivals in their fledgling careers as part of the growing UK “Grime” music scene.
Bullet holes appear on the screen on one of the gang videos, while crew members mimic shooting at people with pistols.
Lyrics are also heavily laced with threats and deadly boasts.
“Gunshots, gunshots, open up the safe.
‘‘If he tries a fast one and tries to run away, gunshots, gunshots I’ll open up his face, everybody covered in blood,” shouts one rapper.
“N*****s want beef they get left all slumped, body builder style I walk with a pump (shotgun).
“Think I give a s*** if my music sells, in the street my name rings like church bells, but n*****s still envy me, ‘cos I make sales like HMV.”
Another young Birmingham rapper, appearing in a hood in a city graveyard, compares his feud with another MC to the bitter East Coast vs West Coast feud in the US which led to the murders of rappers Tupac and Notorious B.I.G.
He warns his rival that he will bury him in the graveyard and that as soon as he gets a shotgun he will hunt him down.
“I’ll stick a shank in your chest, you’ll be like ‘I’m sorry’,” he raps.
In other YouTube clips of the B21 Bang Bang crew, gangsters can be seen posing with a shotgun and rapping about murder, while another masked man clutches what looks like a pistol.
The gun-wielding rapper tells viewers: “Welcome to Handsworth, you’re in the slum, you’re in the f****** hood,” before telling gang members to put a “bullet in the head” of their rivals.
Last night, a spokesman for West Midlands Police said: “Any information that we receive will be looked at to see whether it is connected to the incident.
“This is a complex inquiry and we are still gathering evidence. Police, in conjunction with Birmingham Reducing Gang Violence, will look at all elements of how gang members pass information to each other, including websites.”
Detectives investigating the shooting have also turned to social networking site Facebook in a desperate appeal for witnesses to come forward.
Last year, we revealed how West Midlands Police were using YouTube to politely ask gunmen to put down their weapons, posting comments on rap videos where gangsters had threatened to “blow the face off” their rivals.