Looks like the City of Brotherly Love might not be so brotherly (or free with its love).

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If you’re a rapper who wants to perform in Philadelphia, city councilman Mark Squilla wants to screen you first. The proposed bill will force Philly venues to disclose the full names and addresses of the artists and groups they book for upcoming appearances to the local police.

The Philadelphia Police Department will be involved in the approval process, giving them de facto veto power for “Special Assembly Occupancy” licenses, over whether shows can be held at venues that hold 50 or more people. In approving a show or not, police would factor “crime, traffic, litter, noise, parking and hours of operation; as well as any community concerns, particularly those of neighbors in the immediate vicinity,” according to the bill, which even includes live-streaming of shows.


The bill is coming under fire and is speculated as discriminatory against rap artists, who are mostly of color. Mary Catherine Roper, Deputy Legal Director of the Pennsylvania ACLU, says: “This bill reflects a strange expansion of police duties and a dangerous muddling of the line between law enforcement and business licensing.”

The Democratic councilman disagrees, saying, “Some clubs were operating without a license because they found a way to have music without a DJ or live performer/band. This legislation will include new forms of music/streaming that weren’t around when this first Special assembly bill became law.”

Squilla vowed that “no specific music acts created this issue,” though the bill was created after a fatal shooting occurred after a Lil’ Durk and Gunplay concert last September at popular venue TLA in his district.

This isn’t the first time politics have stepped into the realm of entertainment regulation. Recent legislation in Harrisburg, a city 100 miles west of Philly, also seeks to register another type of performer: strippers.

What do you think? Is the bill a bit extreme?

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