AR-Ab will be spending the next two decades behind bars.
The 38-year-old rapper, whose real name is Abdul West, was sentenced to 45 years in prison on Thursday (April 15) for turning his record label, Original Block Hustlaz, into a large-scale drug trafficking network that has been implicated in at least one murder.
Prosecutors alleged that West ordered the 2017 killing of a rival, but they did not charge him with that crime, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson said the punishment was for West’s lifetime of “antisocial behavior.”
“You could have been a hero instead of a criminal,” said Baylson. “But you became a drug dealer. You made that decision. That’s why you’re being punished.”
West, who Drake rapped about on “Back to Back,” didn’t show much remorse as he sat with his arms crossed and addressed the court. “The court, the FBI agents, and the prosecutors don’t understand my culture,” he said. “We don’t rap about flowers and rainbows. We’re gangsta rappers. We rap about where we grew up. So we rap about drug dealing. We rap about violence.”
West’s music and social media was scrutinized throughout his 2019 trial. Jurors were shown several of his videos and Instagram posts that FBI agents alleged were directly linked to crimes by him or members of his crew, while witnesses described West’s drug-trafficking operation.
Prosecutors interpreted West’s “Blood Brothers” lyrics to be an admission that he ordered the 2017 murder of rival Robert Johnson, who was shot multiple times. West’s affiliate, Dontez “Taz” Stewart, pleaded guilty to the murder and later testified against him.
“This wasn’t a case against gangsta rap,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Everett R. Witherell said in court Thursday. “Mr. West made it clear not just in his lyrics but in his social media that people should be afraid of him and his willingness to resort to violence.”
West seemingly plans to appeal. Days before his sentencing, he shared a message with his Instagram followers. “Don’t expect no leniency from them folks…but I’ll be right back on appeal,” he wrote.