With the increasing popularity of video-sharing websites including YouTube and Vimeo, authorities are now using music videos to investigate local gang behavior. In a news story published by the New York Times this week, the publication revealed that police officers and prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York are starting to “examine music videos posted on YouTube in hopes of a better understanding of gang rivalries and the dynamics behind recent shootings.”
The New York Times shared the story of 21-year-old rapper Cuame “Murda Malo” Nelson, an artist who found himself under investigation by authorities due to his music. Despite claims of gang ties from those doing the investigating, Malo says he's not a member of any gang.
“I’m not in any gang,” he said. “We have copyrights for our organization; we are a music group. O.T.S. Entertainment. A.T.C. Entertainment. This is a music group, you dig?”
Anti-gang squad member and police officer Fred Vanpelt commented on the “ongoing violence” addressed in the music of those being investigated while Patrice Allen, Murda Malo’s manager says authorities investigating music videos and songs has become “a double-edged sword.”
“You really have to listen to the songs because they’re talking about ongoing violence,” Officer Vanpelt said to the New York Times.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Allen said. “If you have that much passion and love for the music, I guess you have to deal with it. That’s just what comes with the music. It’s the bitter and the sweet, you know?”
One artist who was arrested recently thanks to a rap video he released was Terry “Na Boogz” Holder. A music video in which Boogz addresses a rival was used in an indictment against the rapper and other members of the youth gang, WTG.
The investigation of Murda Malo, Na Boogz, and other artists in Brooklyn through their music doesn’t serve as the first time authorities have used that particular tactic.
Last year, a rapper by the name of Twain Gotti was arrested due to incriminating lyrics found in a song he posted on YouTube. On the song Gotti rapped, “Everybody saw when I [expletive] choked him. But nobody saw when I [expletive] smoked him, roped him, sharpened up the shank then I poked him…had me crackin up so I joked him, it is betweezy six feet ova, told ya [expletive] with my money I’ll roast ya.”
Prior to Gotti’s arrest in August 2012, a New Jersey police officer and aspiring rapper was investigated after his music videos were discovered online.