10 Rappers With Real Criminal Records
Are violent lyrics in hip-hop representative of violent artists?
If you take their word for it, more than half the rappers in the world of hip-hop should be convicted felons. From drug dealing to gun smuggling to fighting in the streets, rap music and crime imagery are inextricably linked, with hundreds of MCs throughout rap’s history claiming to be thugs, gangsters, and criminals. Of course, for the vast majority of artists, these supposed criminal activities are little more than a flashy and amusing way to fill time on hit songs. However, there are a handful of hip-hop icons with surprising and bona fide criminal records.
1. Lil Wayne (The Rapper Who Spent 8 Months on Rikers Island)
On July 22, 2007, Lil Wayne played his first headlining show at the Beacon Theater in New York City, and decided to celebrate like many rappers claim they do: party time. Lil Wayne and another man were smoking marijuana near the rapper’s touring van when a police officer accosted the rap star. Following a brief search, the officer found a gun in a bag by Wayne’s side that was registered to his manager. The rapper was charged with criminal possession of a weapon.
On October, 2009, Wayne plead guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon, and was expected to serve a year in prison for his crime. However, several delays in sentencing meant Wayne didn’t start his time behind bars until March 8, 2010, when he began a one year sentencing at the infamous Rikers Island, where he would later be released after serving eight months. Next time you hear Wayne rapping about guns and drugs, take that man seriously.
2. Gucci Mane (The Rapper Who Got Away with Murder, But Not Much Else)
A quick Google search shows that Gucci Mane has a criminal record long enough to make him fit in on an episode of The Sopranos, but his most infamous crime is one he was never sentenced for. In May of 2005, Gucci Mane was attacked by a group of men in Decatur, Georgia, and his crew didn't take the aggression kindly. Guns were drawn. The body of Pookie Loc, one of Gucci’s attackers, was later found behind a nearby middle school.
To his credit, Gucci Mane turned himself in, claiming he shot in self defense. Eventually, Gucci got off free, when county prosecutors dropped the case for lack of sufficient evidence. Of course, at the time the charges were dropped, Gucci was in prison for assaulting a club bouncer with a pool cue. Currently, Gucci Mane is serving a prison term for pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. No other major hip-hop figure comes close to sporting a rap sheet as long as Gucci’s.
3. Cassidy (The Rapper Who Was Charged With Murder, But Received Manslaughter)
The West Oak Lane neighborhood in Northern Philadelphia was anything but quiet on April 15, 2005. Rapper Cassidy and two of his friends, strapped to the nines with pistols and an AK-47, got into an argument with three unarmed men, and things turned violent fast. Desmond Hawkins, on of the three men who angered Cassidy’s posse that night, was fatally shot in the back. His two friends ended up in the hospital; Cassidy’s crew ended up in court.
While the case looked pretty open and shut to start, a series of hold-ups on behalf of the prosecution resulted in the trial consistently moving in Cassidy’s favor. Original charges of first degree murder were downgraded when the prosecutor’s primary witness withdrew testimony, and Cassidy was charged with third degree murder. Eventually, he was sentenced with involuntary manslaughter, a crime he would serve only eight months for. If you run in to Cassidy in the streets of North Philly, DO NOT piss him off.
4. Tupac Shakur (The Rapper Who Served Time For The Ugliest of Charges)
While Tupac is widely considered one of the greatest rappers of all time, and largely acclaimed for his socially progressive lyrics on many tracks, he was convicted in 1995 of the ugliest of offenses. He and several members of his posse were charged with sexual assault when a 19 year old woman claimed that Shakur and his crew entered her hotel room and raped her. Pac maintained his innocence, but a judge thought otherwise.
In December of 1994, Tupac was convicted of sexual abuse, and served four months in prison with five years of probation to be completed on his release. Critics of gangster rap pointed to the trial as evidence that the music’s violent lyrics led to real crime; fans of Pac believe the rapper was innocent. In either case, Shakur’s legendary career is tainted by jail time and ugly charges.
5. Fat Joe (The Rapper Who Went To Jail, But Not For Assault)
Legendary New York City golden era spitter Fat Joe has had his share of legal
troubles, but ended up in jail for a somewhat mundane offense. In 1998 the MC was arrested for alleged assault and robbery, as he and fellow rapper Big Pun were accused of beating a man with a baseball bat and stealing his gold necklace. Later, in 2002, Fat Joe was slapped with another assault charge for allegedly getting in to a fight at BB King’s blues club in New York City. Neither charge stuck though, and Fat Joe never saw a minute of prison time for another decade.
In December of 2012, Fat Joe made his first guilty plea in court, in a case entirely unrelated to his youthful penchant for assault charges. Apparently, the rapper went came up short by about 3 million dollars in his income tax payments between 2007 and 2010 and, after pleading guilty, Fat Joe spent four months in prison. There is no such thing as easy jail time, but Joe must have been happy that the only charges he couldn’t dodge were for something as mundane as tax evasion.
6. Chief Keef (The Rapper Who Did Hard Time in the Softest of Cells)
While Chicago MC Chief Keef may not have the longest running legal record in hip-hop, he got a very early start in his life of crime. At 16, the young MC got in an altercation with the police that involved a chase on foot, open fire from the police, and ended with a juvenile detention sentencing for the youngster. Unfortunately for Chief Keef’s street cred, the rapper only spent a short amount of time in a correctional facility, before a judge decreed he be sentenced to home confinement in a much more embarrassing kind of confinement: Keef was sent to live with his grandmother.
However, as he reached adulthood, Chief Keef continued his criminal activity. In 2013, the rapper spent sixty days in jail for a parole violation. Hopefully, the young rapper will be able to focus on his career in the future, and will leave parole violations and grandma’s house arrests behind.
7. Lil Kim (The Rapper Who EVERYONE Forgets Went To Jail)
That’s right: EVERYONE forgets that Lil kim did a stint in Jail, but this 90’s era friend of the Notorious B.I.G. has a record as bona fide as the hardest criminals on this list. Her story is partially one of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and partially one of flat out lying in a place you really shouldn’t lie.
In 2001, Lil Kim and her entourage had a run in with another rap act, Capone-N-Noreaga, outside of a popular New York City radio station. Shots were fired, though Kim never was charged for being involved; instead she was found guilty in 2005 of lying to a federal grand jury in. When called to the stand to divulge her involvement with the Capone-N-Noreaga incident, Kim claimed that two of her close friends whom had been with her were not there. Apparently, her two entourage members didn’t get the memo, and confessed to being involved, putting Kim out on a lurch and eventually leading to her conviction and a year long prison sentence. Remember kids: NEVER lie to a grand jury, especially if you have two friends who aren't smart enough to play along.
8. Meek Mill (The Rapper With The Funniest Court Sentence Of All Time)
While Meek Mill has been rapping since 2003, he has only gained some larger notoriety and fame since 2008, the same year he was first convicted of drug dealing and gun charges (Link 17). The MC served 6 months in prison, and is still completing a probation term related to the 2008 charges (Link 17). Despite being on probation though, Meek Mill hasn’t been on his best behavior, and recently received one of the most amusing sentences in the history of rap music.
In Meek Mill’s defense, it must be hard to balance a rap career with the constraints of probation, but the rising star hasn’t done a very good job of meeting his 5 year probation period’s travel restrictions. In 2013, Meek appeared in court for violating probation by not informing his probation officer when he had to travel for shows, and while in the courtroom Mr. Mill was not on his best behavior. His behavior was so disrespectful that the presiding judge sentenced him to an amusing punishment: the young rapper was forced to take “etiquette classes” to improve his manners and shape up in general. Careful, Meek. Keep violating probation, and you may get sent to time out.
9. T.I. (The Rapper With a Machine Gun Romance)
While T.I. may be best known nowadays for introducing Iggy Azaela to the world, in the mid 2000s he was famous for dominating the charts and infamous for being charged with some very extreme gun charges at a very inopportune time. In 2007, while on his way to the B.E.T. awards where he would win to recognitions, T.I. was arrested for gun illegal gun possession. But T.I. wasn’t carrying a pistol or shotgun: the rapper planned on rolling up to the B.E.T. awards with three machine guns and two silencers, and several more machine guns with a large amount of ammunition were later found at his home.
T.I. went on to serve a year long sentence beginning in 2009 based on his outlandish gun charges, but the rappers trouble with the law wouldn't stop there. In 2011, T.I. was sent back to prison for an 11 month sentence after he violated his probation by possessing the drug ecstasy. It is easy to imagine that, had he not spent so much time in prison, T.I. could have had an even huger career. But as they say, give a rapper a machine gun and he will want another.
10. Bobby Shmurda? (The Rapper Who is Maybe Innocent)
If you know three things about overnight sensation Bobby Shmurda, you probably have heard that the Brooklyn rapper dropped the biggest club hit of 2014, has a unique and hilarious relationship to social media (Google the Shmoney Dance), and now faces one of the longest laundry lists of criminal charges in rap history. At the time of this list’s pressing, Bobby is in the early days of what will surely be a massive trial following his December, 2014 arrest. Shmurda and his label mates face an indictment including 69 charges, from murder, attempted murder, assault, attempted assault, weapons possession, criminal use of a firearm, reckless endangerment, and narcotics sales, to criminally using drug paraphernalia. Whether or not Bobby gets convicted, the sheer enormity of the charges against the young rapper justifies his place on this list.
BONUS: Suge Knight (The Non-Rapping Rap Tycoon That Probably Killed a Guy)
One more outstanding case, which again is in the early stages of development as this list is pressed, is so huge and so shocking that it earned a spot in spite of the fact that the criminal in question isn’t a rapper. Suge Knight, the legendary hip-hop mogul behind Tupac and Dr. Dre’s “Death Row” record label, allegedly hit and killed a man with his car on January 29th, 2015. Suge Knight is being held in custody pending a 2 million dollar bail, and it is unclear how large of a case will be mounted against him. In any case, this isn’t Suge’s first run in with the law: the mogul spent time in prison from 1997-2001 for violating his probation, which resulted from an earlier assault case. Whether or not Mr. Knight gets convicted for the recent murder charges that have been filed against him, it is clear that there isn’t much sweet about this infamous tycoon.
Who Is Innocent?
What do you think? Did all of these hip-hop figures commit the crimes they were charged for, or are some of the innocent? Tell us below in the comments!