Today (11/5), rapper Ar_Ab (legal name: Abdul Ibrahim West) and his eight co-defendants (Jamaal Blanding, Jameel Hickson, Richard Chase Hoover, Dontez Stewart, Amir Boyer, Daryl Baker, Hans Gadson & Dennis Harmon) will all appear in court. The government is moving forward with conspiracy charges and seeks to tie Ar-Ab to the murder of a man named Robert Johnson. The government seeks to admit over 100 social media posts they hope to include as evidence, including lyrics used by Ar_Ab.
The government’s motion in limine to admit these social media posts claim the following (notice the reference to Ab’s lyrics),
“The Government avers that the reference in the lyrics to the murder of Robert Johnson, allegedly committed by Stewart at the behest of West, is as follows: ‘I’ll have da whole city scared stand near homie I call Tez [Dontez Stewart’s nickname] and tell him bring dat ni**a head to me.’
The government’s motion in limine further seeks to,
“In addition to the four videos, the Government seeks to admit approximately one hundred posts to social media sites by various Defendants depicting drug trafficking activity and/or containing references to the conspiracy.”
Interestingly, the prosecution even referenced fellow Philly rapper Meek Mill, although without introducing it’s alleged evidence in the formal presentations to the court and/ or jury.
“In [the alleged evidence] video, entitled “Ar-Ab Talks Philly Rap Scene Part 2,” Defendant West denies having “beef” with rapper Meek Mills, but asserts that if he did have beef with any rapper, he would have had one of his DTO confederates shoot the rapper before West returned home. The Government noted that it had sent this video to all defense counsel, but the video was not part of its initial motion, was not included on the spreadsheet, and was not summarized in a transcript.”
All of the defendants have opposed the government’s move to admit these social media posts as evidence. The defense summoned expert witness Dr. Richard M. Cooper, an expert in the culture of rap music, who argued the following,
“Dr. Cooper testified that there was a specific type of rap music often referred to ‘gangsta rap’ in which the singer uses lyrics that portray boldness, aggressiveness, foul language, violence, and hypermasculinity. Dr. Cooper related historical reasons why this genre of rap has become popular among African American performers and audiences. Dr. Cooper gave many examples during his direct testimony of gangsta rap lyrics and opined that this type of music does not necessarily state the truth about the performer’s personal activities or the activities of anyone else, but is designed to project an image that reflects African American struggles and present-day culture. Dr. Cooper expressed his opinion that Instagram is often an extension of rap and is frequently used as a marketing tool.”
“During extensive cross- examination, Dr. Cooper acknowledged that some rap songs may use lyrics that reflect a choice of lifestyle by the performer, but he noted that a listener cannot conclude from the music alone that there is any element of truth in the lyrics that the performer uses.”
The government is also seeking to include, as mentioned earlier, photographs from social media post which the government claims prove the defendants involvement in drug distribution. (note: Aliunde means from another place or outside source. It is often used to refer to evidence given aliunde when meaning cannot be derived from a document or instrument itself).
“The Government asserts that some of the photographs of individual Defendants will be evidence that they were at a specific location; and other evidence, which the Court may term evidence aliunde, will show that there were drugs at that location on the date the photograph was taken, the possession of which was part of the conspiracy and conduct in furtherance of the conspiracy. The Court acknowledged that with such aliunde evidence, the photographs may be admissible.”
The Court would go on to state that before such social media posts can be used as evidence the Government would need to “establish the existence of the conspiracy and demonstrate that it had introduced or would offer sufficient evidence showing the defendant depicted in the social media exhibit to be part of the conspiracy and to have acted in furtherance of the conspiracy.”
We’ll have more information on this matter as it becomes available. Anyone interested in reading the entire ‘MEMORANDUM RE: MOTION IN LIMINE TO ADMIT SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS’ in the case of ‘UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v.ABDUL IBRAHIM WEST, et al.’ can find it here.
Earlier today, OBH member Vegaz Navada put out the following statement, in addition to his own statement, purportedly on behalf of Ar_Ab which came in the form of a rap.