An amateur rap video filmed in north Minneapolis has been watched at least 90,000 times online, according to Youtube statistics.
That's pretty good. What's not good is that some of those views were by Minneapolis Police Department officers, who took the video's lyrics, and its constant flashing of guns and gang signs, as a hint that the rappers might be affiliated with gang activity.
Some of the other views came from the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, which yesterday levied felony charges against four of the video stars.
The heavily autotuned four-minute "song" was posted to Youtube on January 8, bearing the title "Fed Up x Lijah Loc x Bj Lord." The description accompanying the upload describes it as a "new track" for the trio, adding, "follow , share , like. appreciate all the support thanks now enjoy."
Here's the video.
Based largely on what the young men volunteered in that video, prosecutors made a case featuring a series of felony charges against four of them: Jawan Carroll, an 18-year-old from Golden Valley; Minneapolis resident Dayshane Cochrane, also 18; and brothers Brian and Elijah Edwards, 19 and 20, respectively, who also live in Minneapolis.
Minneapolis cops who viewed the clip noticed its participants are brandishing both guns and gang signs affiliated with the Tre Tre gang, according to the criminal complaint, which says that gang is thought to operate in the area of 33rd Avenue North.
The lyrics also got special attention from cops, who say there are repeated references and threats of violence for members of the Skitz Squad, thought to be a rival gang of Tre Tre. The criminal complaint, which takes a clinical tone in dissecting the song's lyrical content, makes for some interesting reading. One portion:
“Ya’all better get your lead up? Haji stop that rat beefing? (inaudible) make it clap season? when I up that pole it ain’t no (inaudible) stop breathing? hood nigga your aim off? come holler at me when your shots decent? I’m pulling up on that A-block? and my shot (inaudible)” (Law enforcement officers know that the term “get your lead up” is meant to mean arm yourself. The term “clap” is a term used to describe the discharge of a firearm. The term “pole” is a term used to describe a firearm. Haji is likely O.C.W. (6/7/1996), a rival Skitz Squad member. “A-Block” is a term that is used to describe Aldrich Avenue North in Minneapolis.The filming of this very video was apparently what got the alleged gang members caught: The same day it appeared online, cops received a tip that it was being filmed in a parking lot on North Seventh Street. While police sat staking out the area, they noticed the posting of a Facebook video featuring the Edwards brothers (and their mother), in which Brian Edwards said he has two guns.
Soon after, a few guys left the apartment building under surveillance, and cops stopped two vehicles leaving the parking lot. Sure enough, police found two guns in the car. Carroll was hit with two charges of possessing a gun without a permit, while both Edwards brothers are facing charges for possession of guns or ammunition after a prior conviction.
All four were charged with terroristic threats, also a felony, for the lyrics in their rap video. The highest-level threat charge carries a minimum sentence of six years in prison. Carroll's gun possession without a permit, of which he has two counts, comes with a minimum sentence of three years in prison; the Edwards brothers are both looking at 20 years in prison if convicted on their possession charges.