New York hip-hop artists may want to think twice before releasing music videos and lyrics to social media outlets these days as new reports reveal local authorities have upped their strategies for taking down gang-related rappers.
According to reports, New York detectives are closely examining and sometimes using rappers’ music videos to place them behind bars.
In December, for instance, investigators said that a case against 11 gang members had been aided by a music video, produced by a minor group called Dub Gang Money. The video, according to a police lieutenant, Peter Carretta, provided evidence that those arrested were part of an established gang and associated with one another. The Police Department’s interest in music videos coincides with a broad shift in patrol strategy: as the department de-emphasizes stop-and-frisk tactics, it has assigned scores of street officers to patiently pursue longer-term investigations against neighborhood gangs, particularly the youth gangs known as crews or sets. (New York Times)
This new tactic is saving police a significant amount of time and helping speed up criminal cases.
The risk that the police might be listening is something of a professional hazard to the rappers. “It’s a double-edged sword,” said Patrice Allen, 35, who currently manages Mr. Nelson and another A.T.C. member, K-Dot, whose name is Karon Stanley. Both are under felony indictment in a Brooklyn gang case. “If you have that much passion and love for the music, I guess you have to deal with it. That’s just what comes with the music. It’s the bitter and the sweet, you know?” It once could take months or years to translate the raw tales of street life from demo tapes to record deals, airtime and music videos. But rappers are now releasing lyrics and videos directly to YouTube, giving local talent — and local beefs between gangs — much wider audiences. (New York Times)
A few years ago, Houston rapper Chamillionaire said the number of rapper incarcerations proved his point about hip-hop police’s existence.
“It’s amazing how much people say on raps,” Cham said in an interview. “People say it’s just your imagination; but at the end of the day it does paint a picture about you, and whether it’s true or false, I’m sure there are people watching. How many rappers are in jail now? I think the music only reflects the lifestyle. I don’t think there’d be a lot of police looking to find crack on me, but if it’s somebody who talks about that and guns all day, they might try to catch a burner on them.” (Spinner)
Mobb Deep producer Alchemist previously talked about the impact hip-hop police had on the rap game.
“They profile rappers,” Al said in an interview. “They are knowledgable of who is in the rap game…They know who Alchemist is. They know who Prodigy is so when they drive around New York they see ‘em, they follow where they’re going, they take pictures, they put together a book…cause they know all the rappers are friends with people in the street, they come from the street…They wanna make connections now so when somebody gets shot or some drug deal goes down, they got all the info…They wanna know the guys in the streets that hang out with the artists. If you listen to rap, nine times outta ten we’re snitching on ourselves…Like Supreme who was connected with Ja Rule…They start saying f*ck that, we’re gonna start watching all these rappers and see who they’re friends with.” (Vod Pod)