Last week, the badly burned body of Rhian H. Stoute, a 33-year old Brooklyn man, was found in a parked SUV in Paramus, NJ. Though details on the incident were scarce, one thing remained consistent: everyone from the New York Post, to CBS News referred to Stoute as an aspiring rapper. For well over a decade now, news outlets have been reporting on incidents involving “aspiring rappers.“ Is the media using the term to sensationalize the news, or is it a veiled attempted at making a correlation between hip-hop—America’s perpetual scapegoat—and crime. Rock history is rich in controversy, but stories about aspiring rock singers getting arrested are practically non-existent. XXL looks back at aspiring rappers who have made the news over the years (mostly for getting in trouble).—Martin Spasov
Despite rapping against violence and murder on city streets, Rodriguez Dante Barfield—a 24-year-old member of the aptly named rap group Modern Tragedy—was shot and killed in December of 1995. Barfield was shot in the chest after a dispute with a 21-year-old man, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Juston Michael Potts—an 18-year-old aspiring Pittsburg rapper known as “Kanyva”—was arrested in June of 2004 for allegedly shooting and killing his promoter, Shani Renee Holloway, after she told him he didn’t have the talent to sell records, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Potts was apparently resentful that his promoter “wasn’t approaching his career in a positive way.”
Dustin Marques— a 23-year-old Taunton, MA rapper who goes under the stage name Staxx—was arraigned on over a dozen drug and weapons charges and was held without bail after a traffic stop turned up narcotics, handguns and ammunition in his car, reported the Taunton Daily Gazette in August of 2007. According to the Gazette, Staxx was a founder of independent label Silver City Records, and had recently signed a recording deal with Warner Bros. Records., following the release of his debut album, My Style.
Having worked with Kanye West and signed a deal with Atlantic Records, Terrance "Bump J" Boykin, 28, had undoubtedly gained more notoriety than most aspiring rappers by the time he got in trouble in 2008. Bump was arrested in November of '08 after a two-month manhunt by the FBI, reported the Chicago Tribune. Bump was said to be one of two men who stormed into a Chase Bank Branch in Chicago with handguns, forcing employees to open the vault and teller drawers, running away with more than $108,000. He eventually plead guilty and was sentenced to 10 years for his part in the robbery.
Aspiring rapper Gregory Smith, 16, was gunned down after leaving a talent show with his friends in April of 2009, according to the Sun Sentinel. The alleged gunner reportedly shot Smith as part of a robbery in order to impress his friends and bolster his street image.
In another pursuit of street credibility, a 21-year-old Florida aspiring rapper robbed a convenience store— shooting a clerk with a BB gun in the process in 2009. After police arrested him, the rapper confessed to a restaurant robbery that had occurred the previous week, the AP reported.
Aspiring rapper Ghazanfar "G-Loc" Halepota, 26, was arrested in connection with an armed robbery in 2009, after he struck up a casual conversation with a bar patron, talking about his rap group’s MySpace page, and then proceeded to rob the patron as he exited. The patron then researched G-Loc’s MySpace page and turned him into the police, according to a report by the San Jose Mercury News.
In the most gruesome story in this timeline, Richard Allen McCroskey, known as Syko Sam, a reported horrorcore rapper, killed four people in September 2009 and then rapped about the murders on his MySpace page, according to the NY Daily News. "You're not the first, just to let you know. I've killed many people and I kill them real slow. It's the best feeling, watching their last breath. Stabbing and stabbing 'til there's nothing left," McCroskey rapped.
Max Gasoi—also known as aspiring rapper AKshun Tha Don—was gunned down in Seattle in November of 2009. The native New Yorker had moved to Seattle to incorporate a new record label—So Hood Records. The Seattle Times reported that AKShun had written that "They call me AKshun 'cause my life is like a action movie… My music is like a action packed movie."
Tyrone Lee of Columbus, Ohio, who went by the stage name “Philly,” was shot while walking with friends through a neighborhood after leaving a recording studio in April of last year. According to 10TV, the bullet was meant for Lee’s friend, because both him and the shooter have children with the same woman. Lee’s mother said “Philly” would always tell her “I’m going to be big, I’m going to be big.”
In another case of using a MySpace page as evidence against a rapper (no wonder nobody uses MySpace anymore,) the FBI arrested Ronald “Ra Diggs” Herron in October 2010, for allegedly running a drug ring out of the Gowanus Housing Projects in Brooklyn, NY. The rapper had apparently tweeted about his gang, and posted videos talking about a prior murder trial, in which two witnesses refused to testify against him. Prior to his arrest, he wrote on Twitter that he has ““5000 niggas with them lorcins (handguns) ready to turn the pigs’ kids into [orphans],” according to the New York Post. Brooklyn federal judge Nicholas Garaufis recently shut down Herron's motion to avoid a trial.
In this case, Claudia Aderotimi—a 20-year-old London girl hoping to be a superstar— traveled to America to get butt enhancement and died after the silicone seeped into her bloodstream, reported the NY Daily News in February 2011. Aderotimi, an aspiring video vixen and rapper, had worn butt-padded pants to an audition and had received a lot of attention, but it all went away once directors found out that it was fake.
Didier Jean, 26, was slain in Staten Island, NY in May 2011 after he allegedly “disrespected” his would-be shooter. Jean, who went by “DJ” or “Tef” was an aspiring rapper who worked at the AT&T store until he could get a record deal in hope to help his mom out. The murder took place less than a mile away from Jean's home.
Aspiring Rapper John 'Fatboy' Powell, 22, agreed to be punched in the face by a female for $5. After the punch, he collected his money and talked to his friends before collapsing from a burst artery. The rapper, who died last September according to TheDailyMail.co.uk, performed with a gang called “Krazy Killaz” in Illinois. The puncher was charged with reckless conduct and battery charges this May.
Aspiring rapper Sheena "Sheen Marie" Barnett, 26, was one of two Southern University students killed in one week in February 2011. According to WBRZ, Barnett was beaten and then set on fire. Her body was found in her Baton Rouge home.
Derek Jones, a 25-year-old aspiring rapper also known as Nu-Boy, was killed only hours after being interviewed about a robbery at the Mall in Columbia, according to the Baltimore Sun. Jones was brought in for questioning after security cameras showed that his whip was one of the getaway cars in the robbery.
In June 2011, Raymond Velasquez, 34, climbed a light pole in Times Square, New York and faced the throng of onlookers. Stunned tourists might have been expecting religious ramblings, or possibly even a suicide. Instead, the man later identified as “Coney Island Joe,” took a deep breath and started rapping. Joe eventually came down, was cuffed and put into police custody. He was later taken to New York’s Bellevue Hospital for evaluation. Several days later he was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court and charged with reckless endangerment, trespassing and disorderly conduct.
On July 26—10 days after his brother was killed in a shootout with the San Francisco police department—aspiring Seattle rapper Ondrell “Doe Boy” Harding, 21, was arrested for the murder of 51-year-old Anthony Leroy Matthews. Reports say Matthews was beaten to death. Harding’s younger brother, Kenneth, 19, was a person of interest in the death of pregnant 19-year-old Tayana Gilbert at the time of his death. Captions on Doe Boy's myspace page ironically read, "DATZ A COLD KILLA LOOK."
On July 20, aspiring rapper Cody Santiago, 18, reportedly snatched the purse of 78-year-old wheelchair-bound Catalina Mateo in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The theft was caught on video. Two weeks ago, Santiago was ordered to stay away from Mateo once released on a $7,500 bail. The youth plead not guilty to fourth-degree grand larceny, among other charges.
No need for snitches. Victor Burgos, 29, tipped off the cops himself after a warrant for his arrest was issued for charges domestic violence and harassment of his ex-girlfriend. Burgos, an aspiring rapper who performed under the name R. Mack Milly, took to his Facebook page and wrote, "Catch me if you can, I'm in Brooklyn." Soon enough, U.S. Marshals and a task force of the NYPD caught Burgos at his Brooklyn apartment with Facebook still open on his computer. He even posted a video of himself walking into the Brooklyn Police Station on his Facebook page.
Laquan Parks, a 28-year-old aspiring rapper from Harlem, was shot in the head and killed by a bicycling gunman as he sat in a chair in the Jackie Robinson Houses in East Harlem on July 6, 2011. Big Threat, 29, also an aspiring rapper, was shot in the right thigh and taken to Harlem Hospital.
A week prior to Stoute's body being found in New Jersey, Adam "White Myk" Michaelson, a 27-year-old aspiring rapper from Omaha Nebraska, was arrested as part of a large-scale gun and drug raid. A song featuring Michaelson titled "Omaha Nebraska" has gotten 100,000 views on Youtube to date.
Apparently aspiring rappers tend to get in trouble north of the border as well. In a case of when keeping it real goes wrong, Toronto rapper Rene "Nightmare" Velez-Lau, 24, was sentenced to four years in prison last week after his gun talk in songs was used as evidence in court. Six videos, including "When Shotz Pop Off," which features clips of the movie Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp, were submitted in court. Lau rapped about his .38-caliber Taurus revolver and a 9-mm Ruger on his songs. A property storage manager found both weapons in a storage locker Lau rented on Toronto's Pelham Ave in 2010. He was convicted of gun possession and careless storage.
The police investigation on the murder of aspiring Brooklyn rapper Rhian A. Stoute, 33, aka Kampane, has made some progress. According to Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli, Randy Manning, 30, of Brooklyn faces felony murder and witnessing tempering charges in connection with Stoute's death. Manning's girlfriend and one of his friends were both charged with obstructing Manning's arrest. All three are due in court today (August 22).