1,404 words / 10:59
On February 11, 2019, a 19-year-old rapper who calls himself YNW Melly — the “YNW” stands for “Young Nigga World” — led a Manhattan nightclub crowd in a singalong of his 2017 single “Murder on My Mind.” The song’s lyrics include:
I wake up in the morning, I got murder on my mind
AK-47’s, MAC-11, Glocks, and nines . . .
And all these pussy niggas hating, tryna knock me off my grind
But I can’t let ’em do it, I got murder on my mind . . .
Bitch, I got murder on my mind (Bitch, I got murder on my mind)
I got murder on my mind (On my mind)
I got murder on my mind (I got murder on my mind)
I got murder on my mind, I got murder on my mind
The video for “Murder on My Mind,” which at last count has racked up over a half-billion views on YouTube, depicts Melly shooting a close friend and cradling him in his arms as he dies. Melly — born Jamell Maurice Demons in Gifford, Florida to a single mother who became pregnant with him at age 14 — claims he composed the ditty while serving a yearlong jail sentence for shooting at (and missing) three people near Vero Beach High School in southern Florida when he was 16. (It’s the first time I’ve heard the surname “Demons,” too, but apparently it’s French.)
On February 13, 2019 — only two days after the rousing New York City singalong of “Murder on My Mind” — Melly turned himself in to Florida authorities. He was charged with two counts of first-degree premeditated murder in connection with the October 2018 shooting deaths of two of his closest childhood friends and members of his Young Nigga World hip-hop collective: 21-year-old Anthony “YNW Sakchaser” Williams and 19-year-old Christopher “YNW Juvy” Thomas. Melly’s alleged accomplice, Cortlen Malik “YNW Bortlen” Henry, had been arrested in Texas the previous day.
Young Nigga World Melly, who a month before his apprehension had scored a #73 charting song in a collaboration with intellectual titan and part-time Jew-namer Kanye West, would see “Murder on My Mind” reach #1 on the US Apple Music Chart only a week after his arrest. The song was eventually certified Quadruple Platinum.
It was an extraordinary time to be a Young Nigga in Young Nigga World.
Police in Miramar, Florida allege that YNW Melly and YNW Bortlen had concocted a zany plot whereby they’d kill their two associates and make it look as if they’d been gunned down in a drive-by shooting while they were sitting peacefully in their Jeep Compass. They allege that sometime after midnight on October 26, 2018, Melly, sitting in the Jeep’s back seat, shot and killed his two childhood buddies. They say that after the slayings, both YNW Melly and YNW Bortlen drove around with the bullet-riddled bodies of YNW Sakchaser and YNW Juvy “prior to entering the hospital” in “a calculated effort to establish their version of the incident[.]” Around 4:35 AM, YNW Bortlen, apparently alone by that time, pulled into Memorial Hospital Miramar with two dead YNWs.
Investigators say the following facts contradict the Two Young Niggas’ story that the other Two Young Niggas were killed by strangers in a drive-by shooting:
- There were no reports of gunshots in the area where Melly and Bortlen say the shooting occurred. Neither was there any forensic evidence of shots having been fired in that area.
- According to forensic evidence, the actual crime scene, which was determined by cell-phone records and a K-9 search, had no other vehicles present when the shooting occurred.
- Surveillance video and mobile-phone geotagging contradict Bortlen’s account of the path he drove from the area of the shooting to the hospital.
- Analysis of a .40-caliber shell casing that was found on the floor of the Jeep’s left-rear passenger’s side matched casings found at the crime scene. Surveillance footage reveals that Melly had been sitting in the left-rear passenger’s seat.
- An autopsy on YNW Sakchaser showed that he’d been shot from behind and that the bullet had been fired from less than a yard away, meaning he had to have been shot from someone sitting in the back seat.
- Phone and video evidence contradict testimony from an associate of Melly’s — it’s unclear whether the associate is also a member of Young Nigga World — about the “Murder on My Mind” rapper’s whereabouts at the time of the shooting.
If police are correct in their suspicions, it was a brazen plot, if not a very bright one.
It’s unclear why Melly and Bortlen may have schemed to kill their two friends and make it look like a drive-by shooting. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say they were seeking to snatch the golden ring of the online age: attention.
Melly’s criminal record will work against him at trial, which has been delayed numerous times but may finally begin in the third week of June — more than four years after his arrest.
Apart from the aforementioned bungled school shooting in 2015, he was arrested in July 2016 after fleeing from Florida deputies, who had to tackle him after a routine traffic stop. He was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in connection with that incident, but somehow, in this white-supremacist police gulag we pretend is a free country, he evaded the mandatory five years that I was always told comes with such a charge. He is also a suspect in the 2017 shooting death of an off-duty black Florida sheriff’s deputy named Garry Chambliss. In 2018, he was arrested in Fort Myers, Florida and charged with possession of marijuana, as well as possession of a firearm or ammunition by a felon. Yet again, he somehow evaded what every convict I’ve ever known told me was a mandatory five years for the ex-con-with-a-gun charge. Instead, he only spent 25 days in jail.
If he’s found guilty of the double murder rap, Young Nigga World Melly would hardly be the first rapper to be convicted of killing someone.
In 2003, Louisiana rapper C-Murder, born Corey Miller and the voice behind such watershed albums as Life or Death and The Truest Shit Ever Said, was convicted of beating and shooting a 16-year-old fan of his to death at a nightclub.
The same year, Texas-based rapper Big Lurch, née Antron Singleton, was sentenced to life in prison for murder and aggravated mayhem after stabbing his roommate’s girlfriend to death, ripping her lungs from her chest, and leaving bite marks on both her lungs and her face. A witness testified that he saw Lurch, who reportedly had been using PCP the day before the 2002 murder, standing outside naked, blood-smeared, and staring blankly upward in the moments after the grisly killing. Forensic technicians found scraps of human flesh in Lurch’s stomach.
In 2017 Kidd Creole, a founding member of pioneering hip-hop group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, was arrested and eventually convicted of manslaughter for the stabbing death of a homeless man.
There are plenty of others, too. Rappers with colorful monikers such as Cool C, G. Dep, Chi-Ali, Rosco P. Coldchain, X-Raided, Max B, Mac Minister, J-Dee, and Ra Diggs have all been criminally convicted of either murder or manslaughter.
And that doesn’t count rappers such as widely-beloved American celebrity Snoop Dogg, who was charged with murder but beat the rap. Nor does it count Chicago-born King Von, who was only 11 when his father was killed, was suspected (but not convicted) of over 10 other killings, and was the subject of a documentary that called him “Rap’s First Serial Killer.” He himself was fatally gunned down in Atlanta at age 26.
And it certainly doesn’t tally up the mile-high piles of black bodies slain by rappers and aspiring rappers who were never convicted, charged, nor even suspected.
But if YNM Melly’s trial finally starts later this month, and he is found guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced to death, he will be the first rapper whose fame and chart success qualifies him as more than a mere “aspiring rapper” to receive capital punishment, which in Florida involves either lethal injection or the electric chair. And this will earn him a cherished spot in the hip-hop pantheon, although he’ll probably be too dead to enjoy all the adulation.
Otherwise, it’ll be just another day in Young Nigga World.
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