You know something’s not quite right any time a 50 year-old Jew without any criminal record to speak of gets two and a half years in the joint just for selling a few gold chains to some drug dealers, and meanwhile, a black rapper with umpteen prior convictions gets off with a mere matter of months for building an arsenal of illegal machine guns in his bedroom closet.
It was announced yesterday that Jacob “the Jeweler” Arabov was sentenced to 30 months behind bars for lying to federal agents who were investigating the Black Mafia Family. Initially, he had been charged with money-laundering and all types of shit, but they ended up just sticking him with the charge that he intentionally misled investigators. Which I took to mean that Jacob probably could have gotten off with no time at all, if he’d been willing to read off a few names. But he didn’t. Jacob knew better than to snitch.
I’ve been covering this Jacob the Jeweler shit for damn near as long as I’ve been here, just because it was such a rich topic to discuss. It seemed to combine several different phenomena in hip-hop that have always interested me: secretive Jewish business interests in hip-hop; black people’s fascination with gold chains and all things shiny; and the creeping influence of the organized crime element on the business side of this shit.
Back when Jacob was first brought in on money laundering charges, it struck me as bullshit – as I wrote here at the time. It seemed like law enforcement, which has been hell bent on trying to throw hip-hop under a bus (see: the hip-hop police), was trying to criminalize even doing business with anyone in hip-hop.
Yeah, the Black Mafia Family were notorious drug dealers. But who in the hip-hop community doesn’t possess the whiff of a little bit of cocaine these days? Even working here at XXL, I’m sure I’m only a few degrees of separation removed from the likes of Big Meech. You saw how it turned out Young Jeezy was moving weight for BMF. (Shocker!) If it’s true what they say, that he got his deal at Def Jam by paying the label $1 million, does that mean Shakir Stewart et al. have been involved in money laundering?
Hence, I’m sure if he wanted to, Jacob the Jeweler could have convinced the prosecution that he wasn’t really at fault here. His clientele consisted largely of members of the hip-hop community. How was he supposed to know the ones who have drug money in their pockets from the ones that don’t? You know how all black people look alike. And if they’re gonna bring him down for money-laundering, does that mean they’re gonna go after everyone else the BMF ever spent money with? McDonald’s might as well just hang out a closed sign.
And even if Jacob the Jeweler knew those guys were drug dealers, or found out after the fact, it’s not like he could just go up to the police and be like, “I know the names of some black dudes who have been dealing drugs.” He may not have known enough about hip-hop to know Jay Z from Young Jeezy (and these days, what’s the difference?), but anyone who’s ever seen 60 Minutes knows
Ed Bradley was gay hip-hop has an ethos against snitching. Or at least admitting to it in public. You could get killed for shit like that. So he had to lie, to protect his own safety.
I don’t even know shit about the law (remember, I was pre-med), and I’m pretty sure I could have argued that case. The only thing is, there’s no way Jacob the Jeweler could have ratted people out and maintained his business selling conflict diamonds to the likes of Lil’ Wayne and Fat Joe. Niggas would have found another Jew willing to put together such ridiculous jewelry, lest they end up going to jail themselves. Indeed, it was probably the best move for him PR-wise to go away for a few months. I’m sure they’ll make sure he goes to one of those comfy white collar prisons. And when he gets back, the hip-hop community can go back to throwing their money away with him, in the comfort of knowing they’re not dealing with a snitch.