Drake’s PR Nightmare Over the Muzik Shootings is Growing

It’s been almost ten days since two people were killed in shootings at the after party of Drake’s OVO event, his annual Toronto homecoming at the Molson Amphitheatre. The shootings–which took place at a club called Muzik across Lake Shore Boulevard from the venue–resulted in the death of Ariela Navarro-Fenoy and Daniel Hibbert. A number of other people were injured. And although it’s reported that there were up to 4,000 people in the club at the time, no one saw anything. Nothing.

Since there were no club surveillance cameras they can use, Toronto Police have appealed for any information–especially cell phone photos or video shot by anyone who was at the party–that might shed some light on what happened. So far, nothing.

The biggest silence comes from Drake himself. This proud Torontonian–a global ambassador for the Raptors and a proud promoter of The Six–hasn’t said a thing. Neither have any of his people. No appeals, no condolences, no statements whatsoever.  Kudos to the Toronto Sun’s Joe Warmington pressing the issue with a column on page three of today’s paper.

Aubrey Graham and his team have finally broken their silence.

Rapper Drake and his people may not have had anything to say about the disturbing double slaying at his OVO Fest after-party last week, but they did comment on my columns calling on the superstar to speak up about the shootings of Ariela Navarro-Fenoy, 26, and Duvel Hibbert, 23.

Attempts to reach Aubrey through Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, where he’s the Toronto Raptors global ambassador, and Universal Music Canada have been unsuccessful. But I was contacted Wednesday by his publicist, who instead of commenting on the carnage, expressed dismay at my columns about it.

“Especially your (column Tuesday),” said Melissa Nathan, who says she’s represented Drake for two years.

“Generally we don’t comment on things,” she said. “That is just not what we do.” But my assertions the star hasn’t done enough to denounce the violence, express condolences, assist Crime Stoppers or Toronto Police to find the shooters didn’t go over well.

“It left a little bit of a bad taste in one’s mouth,” Nathan said.

Surprised the Drake camp would possibly think of me as a problem over, say, the killers, I said: “Nothing like the bad taste it has left in Toronto’s mouth.”

“It should be about the girl and about all of that,” Nathan said. “That is what it should be.”


Interestingly, Nathan works for Hiltzik Strategies, a New York PR company that lists toxic NFLer Ray Rice and Bill Cosby as clients. Here’s what it says on Hiltzik’s LinkedIn page:

Hiltzik Strategies (hstrategies.com) is a strategic communications and consulting firm representing influential companies, organizations, institutions, and high profile individuals.

The firm works across a broad spectrum of industries including media, entertainment, sports, tech, publishing, finance, retail, real estate, public affairs, education, consumer goods, B2B, and philanthropy. With offices in New York and Los Angeles, Hiltzik Strategies provides a wide range of high–level communications services including strategic counsel, crisis management, corporate positioning, profile management, message development, media training, media relations, brand–building and repositioning, and content creation.

Taking on a widely-read columnist over a question much of the city is asking doesn’t sound like sound strategy to me. Read the rest of Warmington’s column here.

So what’s the strategy behind Drake’s silence?

Yahoo! New examined the situation in this story. This is where it gets really, really complicated.

Last Tuesday gunfire rang out in Toronto’s Muzik nightclub at the official afterparty for OVO Fest, the two-day music festival put on by Drake and his record label OVO Sound, leaving two dead and three injured.

Major media outlets are still tracking the aftermath, but Drake himself remains noticeably silent. Meanwhile, Toronto police are asking him to lend his voice in a campaign against gun violence.

What the police may fail to realize is that their history of racial profiling and Drake’s status within the hip-hop community mean they’re facing an uphill battle if they’re seriously hoping he’ll collaborate with them.

But before all that, there’s the general question as to whether any celebrity has a responsibility to say something when a tragedy of this magnitude befalls an event, appearance or performance they are associated with?

The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might assume.

Read the rest of the story here.

Fine. So the situation is…complicated for a social and police relations point of view. But would it be so hard for Drake to make some kind of a statement expressing sadness that two people were killed at his party? Wouldn’t a simple acknowledgement of the tragedy be the morally right thing to do? When there was that horrible shooting at a screening of the movie Trainwreck, the movie’s star, Amy Schumer was all over it, expressing sorrow, outrage and promising to help.

So what’s preventing Drake at least saying he’s sorry for the loss of life? I’m honestly curious.

Finally, here’s a short Hollywood Reporter interview with agency founder Matthew Hitzlik on the firm’s “new gossip strategy.”


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Drake’s PR Nightmare Over the Muzik Shootings is Growing

  • August 13, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    Fear? Mink Mill or whoever battle? History of violence in rap/hip-hop culture? Curious that those battles start in disses and such, end up in gunfire. Rock ‘battles’ at best end up in fist fights and songwriting.


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