For up and coming rappers who may be involved in some form of illegal activity in New York, be warned that NYPD detectives are checking out videos that get uploaded to the Internets for clues. In Brooklyn's notorious Brownsville section, a brewing feud between rival crews led to the arrest of several individuals, including a rapper, all allegedly tied to gangs.
The New York Times reported on the NYPD's anti-gang efforts, signaling a move by the department to focus on longer investigations and build more evidence against the warring factions in Brooklyn. Officers who formerly knocked heads in the street are now poring over local rap videos in an effort to solve recent crimes that appear to be gang-related.
From the Times:
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.
Directed by prosecutors to build evidence that individual shootings are part of larger criminal conspiracies, officers are listening to local rappers for a better sense of the hierarchy of the streets.
“You really have to listen to the songs because they're talking about ongoing violence,” said Officer Fred Vanpelt, who is part of an anti-gang squad in Brownsville.
To hammer Officer Vanpelt's point home, the recent arrest of Cuame “Murda Malo” Nelson last November occurred while the rapper was shooting a video. Nelson, 21, was just fresh off a bid at Rikers Island when the plainclothes officers wearing shirts emblazoned with the name of the rapper's Addicted To Cash crew arrested him on unspecified charges. The police say Addicted To Cash, or A.T.C., is a criminal organization., a claim disputed by Nelson's manager, Patrice Allen.
“It's a double-edged sword,” said Allen, 35, who also manages A.T.C. member, K-Dot. “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?”
Both K-Dot, born Karon Stanley, and Nelson are under felony indictment in a Brooklyn gang case.
Rapper Shaquille “Na Boogz” Holder, alleged to be part of the WTG gang, is one of 10 of the crew's members under indictment for gang activity against rivals, Dub City. In fact, videos like Holder dissing former friend and Dub City opponent Quaysean Haywood appears to be sparking interests in the youth gangs beyond Brooklyn and extending into other boroughs.
According to a filing by prosecutors, a Queens fan of Na Boogz sent a text asking to join WTG. Holder reportedly texted back to the person that if he paid $125 via Western Union, he could become part of the gang.
Struggle rappers still in that life, let this be a warning to you. That's on the house, too.
Hit the jump to see videos of the rumored gangs-turned-rappers, and photos of some of the accused as well.
Photo: New York Times