Philadelphia rapper AR-Ab is expected to spend the next four decades behind bars.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the 38-year-old artist—legal name Abdul West—was sentenced Thursday to 45 years in prison for his alleged role in a drug-trafficking ring. The news comes less than three years after AR-Ab and eight other men were arrested on federal drug charges. Prosecutors accused the rapper of turning his Original Block Hustlaz (OBH) record label into a large-scale trafficking ring that was implicated in at least one murder.
“You could have been a hero instead of a criminal,” U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson told AR-Ab during the sentencing hearing. “But you became a drug dealer. You made that decision. That’s why you’re being punished.”
Although AR-Ab was suspected of ordering the 2017 murder of rival Robert Johnson, he was not charged in connection to that crime. Prosecutors reportedly linked him to the fatal shooting 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.” AR-Ab’s associate Dontez “Taz” Stewart ultimately pleaded guilty to Johnson’s murder.
AR-Ab, who has received co-signs from Drake, Swizz Beatz, and Birdman, had established a tough persona that was reinforced by profanity-filled, violent lyrics. The Inquirer reports the rapper’s proactive music was a major talking point in the prosecution’s argument, as they believed AR-Ab’s lyrics were more than just a marketing ploy.
“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, AR-Ab released a brief statement claiming he was ready to appeal.
Stay tuned for further developments on AR-Ab’s legal battle.