Ar-Ab Sentenced to 45 Years in Prison for Drug Trafficking
According to a report from The Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday (April 15), the 38-year-old rhymer, born Abdul West, has been hit with a nearly five-decade long sentence after being found guilty in 2019 of turning his label, Original Block Hustlaz (OBH), into a drug ring that allegedly implicated at least one murder.
Prosecutors in the case alleged that Ar-Ab was involved in the 2017 murder of Robert Johnson, a supposed drug rival, and attempted to have at least one member from Johnson’s family testify in court. However, according to court documents obtained by XXL on Friday (April 16), U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson filed a motion prohibiting any “victim statements or live testimony with regard to the death of Robert Johnson.”
The Inquirer notes that the judge reiterated that Ar-Ab’s alleged connection to Johnson’s death was not considered in the rapper’s sentencing. Nor were his lyrics, which oftentimes focus on drug dealing and life in the streets.
Instead, Judge Baylson reportedly said that Ar-Ab’s 45-year sentence is due to his “antisocial behavior.” The judge was quoted saying, “You could have been a hero instead of a criminal. But you became a drug dealer. You made that decision. That’s why you’re being punished.”
While in court, prosecutors reportedly argued that Ar-Ab’s lyrics were more than just music, they were admissions of crimes that had taken place. Prosecutors also claimed that lyrics reportedly found in the rapper’s phone were written four days after Johnson’s death. The lyrics reportedly read, “I’ll have da whole city scared/Stand near home/I call Taz and tell him/Bring dat nigga’s head to me,” tied Ar to the murder. Dontez “Taz” Stewart, a member of Ar-Ab’s crew, pleaded guilty to Johnson’s murder.
Additional statements were made in court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Everett R. Witherell about Ar-Ab’s lyrics. “This wasn’t a case against gangsta rap,” Witherell said. “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.”
The rapper reportedly maintained his innocence regarding Robert Johnson’s death during his court appearance.
During the trial, Ar-Ab reportedly addressed the court and said, “The court, the FBI agents, and the prosecutors don’t understand my culture. 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.”
On Tuesday (April 13), just two days before his trial, Ar-Ab posted a statement via Instagram, briefly speaking on his plans to appeal his case. “Sentencing week…don’t expect no leniency from them folks…but I’ll be right back on appeal,” the caption reads.
About two years ago, Ar-Ab was found guilty of conspiracy, distribution of a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. The substances were cocaine (five kilograms), crack (280 grams or more), methamphetamine (50 grams or more) and heroin (over 100 grams), according to United States Attorney’s Office press release from 2018—when the rapper was first charged. When Ar-Ab was convicted in November of 2019, he was facing at least 15 years behind bars.
Ar-Ab’s codefendants Jamaal Blanding, Jameel Hickson, Richard Chase Hoover, Dontez Stewart, Amir Boyer, Daryl Baker, Hans Gadson and Dennis Harmon were hit with charges including possession with intent to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, crack and heroin, distribution of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of a firearm back in 2018.
They also maintained that Original Block Hustlaz was not a drug trafficking ring and instead a legit record label.
Ar-Ab first made a name for himself through his association with fellow Philly rapper Cassidy and was connected to Cass’ involuntary manslaughter case in 2005. Ar has also feuded with Meek Mill in the past, but the two later mended fences and squashed their beef. In 2016, Ar-Ab signed a deal with Cash Money Records.
XXL has reached out to the Philadelphia courts for a comment on this matter.
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