These Legal Cases Shocked Hip-Hop in 2022
In 2022, several hip-hop artists had to perform on the biggest stage on Earth—the courtroom.
Arguably, one of the most shocking criminal cases to happen this year was the YSL racketeering case against Young Thug, Gunna and 26 YSL codefendants. Thugger is still fighting his case, but Gunna was released after making a plea deal with prosecutors. This prompted critics to accuse the Atlanta rapper of snitching on Thug and other members of the YSL collective. However, Gunna's attorney, Steve Sadow, insisted that the Georgia-bred rapper didn't snitch and won't have to testify in the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) case. The YSL RICO trial is set to start on Jan. 9, 2023.
Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the Tory Lanez trial for the shooting involving Megan Thee Stallion was the most talked about criminal case in Los Angeles. Some of the most shocking moments during the trial came from Megan's former friend, Kelsey Nicole Harris, who refused to answer any questions about Tory's actions on the night of the July 2020 shooting. Additionally, an eyewitness, who watched the altercation from his bedroom, testified on the stand that he saw a woman fire the first shot. This raised speculation regarding Harris' involvement in the incident. In the end, Tory was found guilty of assault with a semiautomatic firearm, carrying a loaded unregistered firearm in a vehicle and discharge of a firearm with gross negligence following the shooting where Megan Thee Stallion was shot in both of her feet during a heated argument. Tory had previously pleaded not guilty to the aforementioned charges.
Finally, the shooting death of Takeoff has left the hip-hop community in mourning. The Migos member was an innocent bystander who was shot during a dispute outside of 810 Billiards & Bowling Houston. The incident initially transpired inside of the venue. Police have arrested Patrick Xavier Clark and charged him with murder for the shooting. Another man, Cameron Joshua, was also arrested in connection to Takeoff's slaying and was charged with felony possession of a weapon. Hopefully, Takeoff's family will receive justice in this case.
Other rappers like Kodak Black, A$AP Rocky, Slim Jxmmi of Rae Sremmurd and more found themselves center stage in a court of law as well. Here's a list of legal cases that shocked hip-hop in 2022.
Young Thug and Gunna
The May 9 arrest of Young Thug, Gunna and 26 associates of YSL, in a sweeping RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) case, sent shockwaves across the hip-hop community. Fulton County prosecutors are accusing Thug of being a leader of an alleged violent street gang that is responsible for numerous crimes in the Atlanta area. Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, is still fighting to be released from jail, but has been denied bond on multiple occasions.
Meanwhile, Gunna, born Sergio Kitchens, was released from custody in December after making a plea deal with prosecutors. According to Gunna's attorney, Steve Sadow, the ATL rapper made an Alford plea to racketeering charges and was sentenced to five years, with one-year of time served and the remainder of his sentence being suspended. By definition, an Alford plea is a "guilty plea entered by a criminal defendant who does not admit guilt but nevertheless pleads guilty as part of a plea bargain." Despite critics calling out Gunna for allegedly snitching, the YSL artist has vehemently denied that he's talking with prosecutors.
Along with Gunna, YSL cofounder Walter Murphy and rapper Slimelife Shawty, real name Wunnie Lee, have also taken plea deals. In an interview with 11Alive, Thug's attorney, Brian Steel, said the biggest problem in the racketeering case are YSL members taking plea deals that incriminate Thug.
The YSL RICO trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 9, 2023.
The ongoing homicide investigation into Takeoff's death has progressed since the late Migos rapper was shot and killed in Houston on Nov. 1. In December, Houston's Chief of Police, Troy Finner, announced the arrest of Patrick Xavier Clark, who was charged with Take's murder. Another man, Cameron Joshua, was also arrested in connection to Takeoff's killing and was charged with felony possession of a weapon.
According to homicide detective Michael Borrow, the arrests were made from surveillance video gathered from the scene. He also added that Takeoff was an innocent bystander and was not involved in a dice game that occurred before the shooting.
Quavo and Takeoff were among the 40 other people standing outside 810 Billiards & Bowling Houston when an argument erupted following a private party. According to investigators, the fight escalated to gunfire and Takeoff was struck in the head or neck area. The late ATL rhymer was pronounced dead on the scene.
The Harris County Medical Examiner in Houston released an official report regarding Takeoff's confirmed cause of death which was listed as "penetrating gunshot wound of head and torso into arm."
Weeks later, friends and family remembered Takeoff at a star-studded memorial service, dubbed "Celebration of Life," in Atlanta.
Megan Thee Stallion and Tory Lanez
In December, all eyes were fixated on the Tory Lanez trial in Los Angeles. The legal case between Tory Lanez and Megan Thee Stallion stems from a July 2020 incident in which Tory allegedly shot Megan in both of her feet during a heated altercation.
The trial itself had more twists and turns than a pretzel. Among the highlights, included an emotional testimony from Megan, who recounted the harrowing night in which she claimed Tory shot her in both of her feet. The Houston rhymer also spoke about the affect the incident had on her relationship with her boyfriend Pardison Fontaine.
Then Megan's former friend, Kelsey Nicole Harris, shook up the court proceedings by refusing to answer any questions about Tory's actions on the night of the shooting, despite being granted immunity by the prosecution. While on the stand, Harris also denied seeing Tory shoot Megan, even though in a recorded September interview with investigators, she said otherwise. Her testimony prompted Megan's attorney, Alex Spiro, to suggest that Harris was compromised as a witness, either by threat or bribery.
Other surprises at the trial include Megan's bodyguard, Justin Edison, mysteriously disappearing on the day he was supposed to testify. Edison was the person who received the text message from Harris which read, "Help," followed by "Tory shot Meg. 911." The bodyguard was located and "surrendered" by his family days later. Then Sean Kelly, a neighbor who witnessed the July 2020 altercation, testified that he saw a woman fire the first shot and watched two people beat down a woman who was on the ground injured after the gunfire. Let your imagination help you figure out who the two people are and the alleged victim.
In the end, Tory was found guilty on all three felonies related to the July 2020 altercation and shooting: assault with a semiautomatic firearm, carrying a loaded unregistered firearm in a vehicle and discharge of a firearm with gross negligence. The embattled rap-singer will be sentenced on Jan. 27, 2023. He faces up to 22 years in prison.
The shooting death of PnB Rock was another tragic moment in 2022. The assailants involved in the dastardly crime have been apphrended and are currently going through the legal process.
On Sept. 12, the Philadelphia rap-crooner, born Rakim Hasheem Allen, was having lunch with his girlfriend, Stephanie Sibounheuang, at Roscoe's House of Chicken 'N Waffles in Los Angeles when a masked gunman walked up to their table and demanded jewelry and valuables. In the midst of the robbery, PnB Rock was shot and killed, along with some of his jewelry being taken.
A few weeks later, the LAPD arrested a 17-year-old minor for the shooting and charged him with robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. Additionally, they arrested the teen's father, Freddie Lee Trone, who was charged with suspicion of murder. Prosecutors say that Freddie Lee Trone, Sr. was the getaway driver while his son was allegedly the shooter who robbed PnB Rock. A third suspect, Trone Sr.'s wife, Shauntel Trone, was also arrested and charged with being an accessory after the fact.
The father and son are currently in custody awaiting trial. It's unclear whether prosecutors will seek to try the minor as an adult for his crime.
The robbery and shooting death of PnB Rock has put rappers on guard with how they maneuver in the general public.
Trouble's death on June 5 left the Atlanta hip-hop community in mourning. A few days later, a suspect surrendered to police after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
According to Rockdale County, Ga. Sheriff's Office, Jamichael Jones was the assailant who allegedly shot Trouble, born Mariel Orr, during an altercation at a woman's apartment. The Atlanta rapper was sleeping in the bed with the female acquaintance when Jones forced his way into the apartment and attacked the woman. Trouble intervened, a fight ensued and the ATL rhymer was shot in the chest. Police say they have video of Jones leaving the apartment after the shooting.
The woman told authorities that she and Jones had a prior relationship and lived together in the apartment, but were separated after he assaulted her during an argument over money. Rockdale County police charged Jones with felony murder, aggravated assault, home invasion and battery.
At a court hearing, Jamichael Jones was denied bail and will remain in the Rockdale County Jail until trial.
A year after Young Dolph's tragic death on Nov. 17, 2021, Memphis police have arrested two more suspects in connection to the homicide case. Jermarcus Johnson surrendered to law enforcement in November and was charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Another person, Hernandez Govan, was also arrested and charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Prosecutors are accusing Govan of allegedly ordering the hit on Dolph.
Meanwhile, two other suspects in Dolph's death, Justin Johnson (aka rapper Straight Dropp) and Cornelius Smith, were indicted for murder back in January and are in jail without bond.
There's also an active warrant out for another man, Shundale Barnett, who is charged with accessory after the fact, criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder and theft of property for his alleged role in the murder. The Memphis Police Department named Devin Burns and Joshua Taylor as persons of interest in the case as well.
Overall, there are now seven people connected to Young Dolph's murder with four currently in custody.
Nearly three years after his arrest on double murder charges, YNW Melly's homicide case appears to be going to trial next year. Nevertheless, the South Florida rapper was going through it while incarcerated in 2022.
As it stands now, Melly, born Jamell Demons, has been in custody at the Broward County Jail since February of 2019. But the "Murder on My Mind" rapper has been involved in a variety of incidents at the jail. In August, Melly's attorney filed a motion for his client to be released from jail to get proper dental care. Apparently, Melly has been unable to properly clean his teeth due to wearing a permanent diamond grill, which is leading to an abscess. According to a report from TMZ in September, Melly's request for emergency dental work was denied.
In September, Melly was reportedly put on restrictions after jail officials falsely accused the embattled rhymer of having pipe bombs in his cell. The rapper's attorney, Raven Liberty, filed a motion to have the restrictions lifted so she could talk with her client and prepare for trial.
Then, at a pre-trial hearing, the prosecution disclosed evidence from a confidential source that Melly was planning to escape from jail back in April by having the rhymer's attorney bring in two handcuff keys to aid in the escape. Liberty has vehemently denied the prosecutors' allegations.
Finally, in December, Melly posted two messages on his Instagram page, claiming he was being beaten and harassed by jail staff. The 23-year-old artist alleges jail officials are abusing their power because they have a vendetta against him.
"I am not safe in the hands of these people especially if the highest in command in the jail 'doesn't like me,'" he wrote in his lengthy missive. "I am in fear of my life. My family is in fear of my life. I can not do another day here."
According to unconfirmed reports, the YNW Melly trial is scheduled to begin on March 7, 2023.
In 2022, two of the three men involved in the 2018 overdose death of Mac Miller were sentenced to prison. The first person was Ryan Reavis, who was sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison in April for his part in supplying the fentanyl-laced pills to Miller, which caused his death.
The second person was Stephen Walter, who pleaded guilty to one count of Fentanyl Distribution and was sentenced to 17.5 years in prison. Prosecutors said it was Walter who was directly involved in handling the fentanyl-laced pills to be distributed and then sold to Miller. As for the third person, Cameron Pettit, prosecutors said his case has yet to be resolved.
Mac Miller died of a fatal drug overdose on Sept. 7, 2018. The Pittsburgh, Pa. rapper's personal assistant discovered him unresponsive in his Studio City, Calif. home and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene. A toxicology report from the Los Angeles Coroner's Office revealed the late rapper died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl, cocaine and alcohol.
It's been two years since King Von's tragic death on Nov. 7, 2020, and there have been no new developments in the legal case. However, the alleged shooter, Timothy Leeks (aka Lul Tim), has had a run-in with the law while out on bail, awaiting trial.
According to a crime report from The Georgia Gazette, Leeks was arrested on multiple drug offenses in Effingham County, Ga., on Oct. 21. The Rondo Quando associate was charged with possession of a Schedule I controlled substance, two counts of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance and marijuana possession (less than an ounce). It's unclear if he's still in custody for the drug charges.
Leeks raised some eyebrows in November when he appeared on a Quando Rondo song called "Want Me Dead." The track, which appears on Quando and YoungBoy Never Broke Again's collaborative mixtape, 3860, had many fans believing Quando was seemingly dissing King Von and his sister Kayla B. In response, NBA YoungBoy has since distanced himself from the project, announcing that he never wanted the album to come out.
Meanwhile, instigator/YouTube personality, Charleston White, who has been outspoken with his viewpoint that Leeks was justified in shooting King Von, posted a video showing his glee at Leeks gifting him a face mask in lieu of his support of him.
After run-ins with the law in 2016 and 2018, Kodak Black found himself catching another legal case in July of this year in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Yak was arrested during a traffic stop after police allegedly found over 30 Oxycodone pills in the rapper's car.
According to TMZ, Kodak was driving in his Dodge Durango when he was stopped by Florida Highway Patrol for what police believed was an illegal window tint. After pulling Kodak over, the officer smelled a strong odor of marijuana and initiated a search of his vehicle. That's when police found 31 Oxycodone pills and $74,960 in cash during their search. Kodak, who changed his name to Bill K. Kapri, was eventually arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and trafficking Oxycodone 14, less than 25 grams.
Yak's license and car tags were also reportedly expired.
He was released shorty after on $75,000 bond.
In his defense, Kodak's attorney, Bradford Cohen, told XXL that the Oxycodone pills the South Florida rapper had were prescription pills prescribed by a doctor for chronic pain as a result of being shot back in February. His legal counsel added that the "Super Gremlin" rapper is still dealing with pain from allegedly being assaulted by prison guards back in 2020. Cohen hopes Kodak's latest legal matter gets resolved sooner or later.
Although Pop Smoke died in February of 2020, there's been a couple of updates since his tragic death.
On a November episode of WeTV's Hip Hop Homicides, Amelia Rose, the woman who was with Pop Smoke in his bedroom just moments before he was shot and killed on Feb. 19, 2020, recounted what went down that tragic night. Rose witnessed a masked gunman entering the Los Angeles home through a sliding glass door and running into the bathroom where Pop was and confronted him.
After that, Rose recalled the gunman taking Pop Smoke out of the bathroom, followed by a brief struggle, and the gunshot that would ultimately lead to the late drill rapper's death. Rose added that she still has trouble sleeping at night and is suffering from survivor's remorse.
Five people, including two minors, were arrested in connection with the rapper's slaying and charged with murder and robbery.
Out of the five suspects, Corey Walker, 19, and Keandre Rodgers, 22, are eligible for the death penalty, if convicted of murder and robbery charges. Jaquan Murphy is facing charges of attempted murder, while the two minors, whose names are withheld because they are underage, were both charged with one count of murder and one count of robbery.
According to Hey Socal, Walker is scheduled for a court hearing on Jan. 20, 2023, while the other three suspects are being charged in juvenile court.
Rod Wave was arrested in May for battery by strangulation in St. Petersburg, Fla. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the arrest of the rapper-singer stemmed from an April incident in which he allegedly choked his ex-girlfriend until she couldn't breathe.
The arrest warrant reportedly stated that Rod entered the unidentified woman's bedroom while she was asleep and proceeded to strangle her. The couple's two children were also in the house, but in a different room. The victim told police that Rod attacked her because she had been speaking to other men. The woman, who said they had previously dated for four years, said she suffered scratches around the neck from the attack.
Two weeks after the arrest, Rod Wave's attorney, Bradford Cohen, confirmed to XXL that the battery charge had been dropped. "This case was a misunderstanding between a Girlfriend and Boyfriend," he said in a statement. "That misunderstanding resulted in [Rod Wave's] arrest. After review of the evidence and speaking with witnesses, the State entered a Nolle Pross/ No Info on the matter and will not be pursuing charges. We thank the Osceola County State Attorney's Office for their professionalism."
Lil Tjay has a lot to be thankful for this year. The New York rapper was shot on June 22 during a robbery attempt in Edgewater, N.J. The incident left the 2020 XXL Freshman unconscious in the hospital for several days with multiple injuries. Thankfully, the 21-year-old rapper made a full recovery.
A suspect has been arrested for the shooting. Mohamed Konate, 27, has been charged with three counts of attempted murder, three counts of armed robbery and various other unlawful weapons charges. Prosecutors say Konate was allegedly attempting to rob Tjay and the rapper's friends Jeffery Valdez and Antoine Boyd while they were sitting in a car at The Promenade, an upscale shopping center.
While recovering from his injuries, Lil Tjay has been hitting the studio. In September, the young rhymer delivered a freestyle track called "Faceshot (Many Men Freestyle)" where he raps over an instrumental of 50 Cent's classic song "Many Men (Wish Death)." Tjay also released the song's cover art, featuring 50's Get Rich or Die Tryin' artwork with Tjay's head photoshopped on 50's body.
A$AP Rocky found himself in a serious legal situation in early 2022. On April 20, the Harlem rapper, born Rakim Mayers, was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport while returning on a private flight from Barbados.
According to authorities, Rocky was taken into custody over a 2021 shooting in which a man, who is an associate of A$AP Mob, claimed that Rocky shot at him three to four times during an altercation. Meanwhile, a half-dozen police officers later used a battering ram to enter Rocky's gated home. Subsequently, the 34-year-old artist was charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
In August, the alleged victim, A$AP Relli, born Terell Ephron, came forward and revealed that he was the victim in the case. Ephron’s attorneys, Jamal Tooson and Brian Hurwitz, also confirmed to XXL that their client is filing a civil lawsuit against Rocky.
According to a statement from Ephron's legal team, they claim Rocky wanted to meet Relli at a location “to discuss a disagreement between the two of them.” Ephron's attorneys alleged that Rocky came to the meetup, armed with a semi-automatic handgun and "intentionally fired multiple shots at Ephron." Furthermore, Ephron suffered physical injuries from the incident and has been receiving death threats, the legal team claimed in their statement.
A$AP Rocky pleaded not guilty at a hearing for the case. If convicted, he could face up to nine years in prison.
Slim Jxmmi of Rae Sremmurd had a couple of run-ins with the law in 2022. His first legal case happened on Jan. 25, when he was arrested for domestic battery following an alleged incident with his girlfriend.
Law enforcement sources told TMZ that Jxmmi got into a domestic squabble with his girlfriend, who goes by Kee, and allegedly grabbed her hair so hard that her weave extensions ripped from her scalp. Apparently, the victim tried to record the incident on her phone, which angered Jxmmi, born Aaquil Brown, and proceeded to chase her around the house.
The girlfriend then locked herself in a room where Jxmmi kicked the door down, snatched the phone from her and threw it off the balcony. The phone was later recovered without damage. Kee later went on social media and denied a physical altercation happened between herself and Jxmmi.
According to TMZ, Slim Jxmmi's misdemeanor battery charge was dismissed in February after his girlfriend recanted her testimony.
DJ Quik's Son
DJ Quik's son, David M. Blake Jr., was arrested in May and charged with murder following a fight and shooting of a 33-year-old man named Julio Cardoza. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, officers were responding to a fight-in-progress call at the 13200 block of Carfax Avenue. While en route, they received another call of shots fired.
When police arrived, they discovered the victim, Cardoza, suffering from a single gunshot wound to the chest. He was rushed to a local hospital where he later died. It's unclear what sparked the fatal altercation. Blake, who was a liaison to California's Compton City Councilman Isaac Galvan, was arrested at another location and charged with felony murder.
Before his arrest, David Blake Jr. was an up-and-coming rapper under the rap moniker D. Blake. As an artist, he has appeared on his father’s albums, including 2014’s The Midnight Life, and released several solo tracks himself, including "I Wanna Know (Remix)" featuring Dom Kennedy.
Ludacris' longtime manager, Chaka Zulu, is going through a tough legal situation after being shot during an altercation. On June 27, Chaka was one of three men who were shot outside of restaurant Apt4b in Atlanta during an argument.
One man, Artez Benton, was killed during the incident. Chaka and a second person were rushed to a local hospital to undergo surgery. Thankfully, Chaka, who was shot in the back, survived his injuries. But in September, Chaka, born Ahmed Obafemi, was charged with murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of or attempt to commit a felony and simple battery. Chaka's attorney, Gabe Banks, insisted that his client was acting in self-defense.
A surveillance video of the incident was shown on the What She Said podcast and it showed Chaka and another person having a conversation, which then turns into a fight. It appears that four other men joined in the fray and were punching and kicking Chaka. The actual shooting is not shown in the clip.
In a Court TV interview, Banks said that Atlanta police have wrongfully charged Chaka for the incident. He believes Chaka acted in self-defense. The case is now under review by the Fulton County District Attorney.
Mystikal was taken into custody for another rape charge in 2022. The New Orleans rapper, born Michael Tyler, was arrested in July for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman following a dispute over money. The woman, who was in a longterm relationship with the rapper, claimed that Mystikal got angry and accused her of stealing money from him. As a result, he allegedly choked, punched and pulled out the woman's hair. The former No Limit Records artist then allegedly held her hostage by taking her keys and cell phone. Mystikal is also accused of splashing her with rubbing alcohol to cleanse her "bad spirits" before forcibly raping her.
After leaving the home, the victim went to a local hospital where a rape kit was administered and it was determined that she was sexually assaulted. Upon further investigation, detectives would later find clumps of the woman's hair and a broken fingernail in Mystikal's home.
Mystikal, who has a history of sexual assault allegations dating back to 2003, was arrested on July 31 and was charged with two misdemeanors: simple criminal damage to property and false imprisonment. He was also charged with three more felonies, including domestic abuse battery by strangulation, simple robbery and first-degree rape.
Two months later, in September, Mystikal was indicted by a grand jury for first-degree rape in connection to his July arrest. If convicted, he will face life in prison.