Rap Video Used in Court Convicts Rappers of Robbery

As evidenced by hip hop, urban-youth-culture is widely known to be adverse to the idea of “snitching“. In everyday non-urban terms, it can be said that hip hop music is known to promote the concept of not speaking of, on, or about any crimes with members of the police department. Yep, whether you’re a witness, or just somebody who knows somebody involved in a crime or criminal activity, the code of the streets requires you to remain quiet. Quite obviously, such hood rules aren’t good when it comes to the need to solve crimes in the hood. Which is really messed up because often the victims of said crimes, are in fact residents of the very hood that criminal elements claim to have love for.

As luck would have it for at least one police agency, there was no need for the services of neighborhood snitches when it cam to solving a recent string of robberies in New York. What’s hilarious to me, is that the criminals in this case are in fact aspiring rappers; who, because of their music video, are about to do some serious prison time for their crimes of robbery. Yep, that’s right; there’s no need for a snitch when you’re willing to snitch on yourself in a music video as these upstanding citizens turned wannabe-rap-stars recently did.

Theis from The New York Times:

The slick rap video had all the trappings of a hit: guns, gritty urban setting, armed robbery and a flashy getaway car. But, as it turned out, the video found its true potential not on YouTube, but in federal court.

The video shows three men in a black Mercedes, immersed in the prelude of a crime about to be committed. Ski masks are donned; guns are readied. Two of the men emerge from the car and follow a man to a building hallway, where they rob him at gunpoint. They return to the car, and the waiting driver speeds them away.

Rap music has been known for violent images and lyrics, but this video, inspired by a song, “The Joy” by Kanye West and Jay-Z, was unusual because some of its featured performers have been charged as members of a real-life robbery team. And the video showed them staging the same kind of crime that they had been charged with committing.

The actual crimes, prosecutors say, included a string of armed robberies in the Bronx and Westchester County, in which a group of men brandished guns and knives and stole thousands of dollars from bodega owners and deliverymen. In one 2011 robbery in Mount Vernon, N.Y., a man was shot and killed.

rap-video-used-in-court-convict-rappers-mercedesFive members of the group have now been convicted in Federal District Court in Manhattan; the latest two, Dwayne Barrett, 35, and Jermaine Dore, 26, were found guilty on Tuesday.

In the music video, Mr. Barrett drives the Mercedes getaway car.

In many of the actual robberies, prosecutors said, the same Mercedes was used and Mr. Barrett was the driver. Another defendant, Taijay Todd, who pleaded guilty in February to participating in robberies, portrays a gunman in the video.

The video appears to have been created by Mr. Todd. His lawyer, Steven Brill, said in a court filing that Mr. Todd had told investigators that he was “involved in the music industry” and “made music videos.”

Prosecutors had listed the music video as evidence, and defense lawyers urged Judge Richard J. Sullivan to preclude it from being introduced.

Watch the video:

Clearly, this is a case of art imitating life; or, as hip hop culture would suggest, the aspiring rappers in this story were “keeping it real.” Of course the convicted criminals in this case would have you believe that they’re innocent. Or as the attorney for one of the defendants stated in a court filing, the video “The Joy” was “an artistic work, professionally made for entertainment purposes,” and was irrelevant to the charges and allegations. Yeah, because everybody knows that rappers don’t exactly “keep it one hun’nid,” about their crimes in their rhymes and videos. Yep, just ask Rick Ross and an one of the numerous studio gangstas around; yep, many are as fake as the diamonds they wear.

I don’t know why these guys did what they did, or whether introducing their video as evidence was fair — actually, I’d leave that up to you to decide. However, I’m pretty sure that the victims of their robberies can all breathe a sigh of relief in large part because of the fact that “keeping it real,” at least in this case, went horribly wrong. I suppose the guys in this case never listened to the 1991 classic “Just To Get A Rep” by Gang Starr. I’m not sure if that would’ve made a difference. But, maybe they should have joined the Illuminati like every other successful rapper has done.