Rapper AR-Ab Sentenced to 45-Year Prison Sentence in Drug Trafficking Ring

Rapper AR-Ab will likely be spending the majority remainder of his life in prison after he was sentenced to 45 years for allegedly running a drug ring that was implicated in murder. The 38-year-old gangster rapper, whose legal name is Abdul West — was convicted in 2019 of turning the record label he founded, Original Block Hustlaz (OBH), into a large-scale North Philadelphia drug-trafficking organization implicated in at least one murder.

West was not charged with the 2017 killing of a drug-world rival Robert Johnson, though prosecutors did allege that he ordered the hit. U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson made it clear in court on Thursday that it wasn't a consideration he made in his sentencing. Nor did Baylson consider West's provocative lyrics full of references to drug deals and street justice. The judge said the punishment he handed down was for West's record of "antisocial behavior."

"You could have been a hero instead of a criminal," he said, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. "But you became a drug dealer. You made that decision. That's why you're being punished." But West reportedly showed little remorse, sitting with his arms crossed in court and dismissing the proceedings as a farce.

"The court, the FBI agents and the prosecutors don't understand my culture," he said. "We don't rap abut 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 presence were a common theme during his 2019 trial, with prosecutors urging that his lyrics were more than just marketing and were, in fact, confessions of crimes. Jurors were even shown West's Instagram posts that FBI agents said were directly linked to crimes by him or members of his crew.

Prosecutors reportedly linked West to the fatal shooting of Johnson after discovering the following lyrics on his phone: "I'll have da whole city scared/Stand near home/I call Taz and tell him/Bring dat n—a's head to me." West's associate Dontez "Taz" Stewart ultimately pleaded guilty to Johnson's murder.

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“This wasn’t a case against gangsta rap,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Everett R. Witherell said in court. “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.”

In the days leading up to his sentencing, West said on social media that he didn't "expect no leniency" in his sentencing and was ready to appeal.