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Controversial Rapper Could Be Headed to City

Tickets are on sale for a show by double-platinum artist Polo G at the former Lemon Tree

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
August 30, 2023
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Rapper Taurus Bartlett, 24, better known as Polo G, has released three albums, each of which have sold more than 2 million copies. He’s scheduled to appear in McKeesport ahead of the Sept. 15 release of his fourth album. (Photo at left by Lou Wop via Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0. Photos at right courtesy Columbia Records.)

A controversial — and highly successful — rap artist currently facing criminal charges in Los Angeles could be coming to McKeesport to perform.

According to advertisements posted on Eventbrite, Taurus Bartlett, 24, better known as Polo G, is scheduled to appear at “Club IKON” — formerly “Tube City Brew House” — on Route 48 near Olympia Shopping Center.

City officials said Wednesday they are aware of the situation and will take action, but said they could not speak further. “We are handling it,” an official said, speaking on background.

“We have a lot of security — we don’t compromise on that — and we’re definitely looking to work with the local police to ensure our guests’ safety,” said real estate developer Prasad Margabandhu, co-owner of Club IKON through the company, Maya Restaurants Inc., he controls with his brother, Sivram M. Bandhu.

“We’ve never had any problems since we’ve been in McKeesport,” Margabandhu said.

A ticket sale listing posted on Eventbrite advertises “an epic night of music and vibes ... get ready to groove to the beats of one of the hottest artists in the game right now ... Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to experience Polo G’s electrifying performance live!” Tickets range from $60 to $85.

According to online event listings, the Sept. 2 concert was originally supposed to be at Foxtail, a club on Pittsburgh’s South Side. The event has been removed from that club’s listings.

The concert is being promoted by a company called Mogul Entertainment LLC of Beaufort, S.C.

Margabandhu said he wasn’t sure why the promoters decided to move the concert from Foxtail to Club IKON, but he was told to expect between 300 and 400 people. The club has up to 30,000 square feet available and has accommodated bigger crowds before, he said.

Born in Chicago, Bartlett is a multi-platinum recording artist who first became popular online after releasing his self-recorded tracks on Soundcloud. His 2019 single “Pop Out” peaked at Number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and his album “Die a Legend” went to Number 6 on the charts.

His newest album, “H.O.O.D. P.O.E.T.,” is scheduled to debut Sept. 15.

All three of Bartlett’s albums have been certified as “double-platinum,” meaning they each sold more than 2 million copies.

However, in addition to his recording success, Bartlett’s off-stage activities have attracted attention. Police have said that Bartlett is affiliated with the Chicago-based gang Vice Lords.

Los Angeles police allege that on Aug. 15, Bartlett’s brother, Taurean, 18, also known as “Trench Baby,” robbed someone at his home, then later fled and hid in his brother’s mansion in that city’s Chatsworth section.

According to published reports, police obtained a warrant to search Bartlett’s home and found Taurean Bartlett there. Police also said they found an illegal sawed-off rifle. Bartlett’s attorney told reporters his client was unjustly accused of crimes and that the charges are unfounded.

In June 2021, Bartlett was arrested by Miami police following an album release party. Police stopped Bartlett’s car and alleged that he fought with officers. The charges were later dropped after Bartlett agreed to attend an anger-management program.

Club IKON’s owners, Margabandhu and Bandhu, are not strangers to controversy, either. At one time, Maya Restaurants Inc. also owned Rivertowne in North Huntingdon Twp. and several Winghart’s Burger & Whiskey Bar locations.

In 2015, an unadvertised after-hours concert at the Winghart’s location in Monroeville Mall resulted in a disturbance involving 500 to 1,000 teen-agers, according to published reports.

Margabandhu said Maya Restaurants learned from that event and would not repeat the same mistake again.

“What happened in Monroeville was that a promoter tried to bring in way more kids than they were allowed,” Margabandhu said. “Someone fired off a B.B. gun in the parking lot and one kid got hurt.”

As a result, he said, Maya will never again allow its properties to be used by a third-party for an event it does not control.

Maya Restaurants purchased the 623 Long Run Road property — once known as The Lemon Tree — in 2014 from the owners of Kennywood, which had operated it as a banquet hall.

Maya operates Club IKON as well as a lounge called “Paparazzi” on the site, and Margabandhu said this week the company is currently developing a concept called “The Drunken Cow,” a restaurant and cocktail bar, that he said would provide a new kind of dining experience for the McKeesport area.

He said he expects further details to be released about the new restaurant in three to four weeks.

According to court documents, in 2017, a trustee who arrived to change the locks on the Long Run Road building during bankruptcy proceedings found gambling machines on the property, as well as food and beverages that indicated someone had recently been serving food to guests there.

Court documents indicate Margabandhu said he had loaned out the building to a third-party for use as a bingo hall and was unaware of any illegal activities.

Allegheny County Health Department records indicate the building has a valid food-service permit and no serious violations have been recorded.

However, the restaurant’s liquor license expired May 31, according to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Margabandhu said that Tube City Brew Works ran into problems after a death in the family and had to close, and that Maya Restaurants was working to correct any issues as it prepares to re-open the facility.

Jason Togyer is volunteer executive director of Tube City Community Media Inc. and editor of Tube City Almanac.

Originally published August 30, 2023.

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