Dr. Boyce Watkins: It’s Time For Rap Labels To Be Investigated For Money Laundering And Promoting Anti-Black Death Culture

Dr. Boyce Watkins: It’s Time For Rap Labels To Be Investigated For Money Laundering And Promoting Anti-Black Death Culture


Boyce D. Watkins, Image: Anita Sanikop

On Nov. 1, popular hip-hop artist Takeoff of the successful group was gunned down in Houston. The shooting death of yet another hip-hop artist has many not only questioning gun violence in the Black community, the glorification of violence in music lyrics but also the role of the records labels. Are labels turning a blind eye to the growing number of artists’ deaths for profit?

Dr. Boyce Watkins seems to think rap labels are as much to blame for the deaths as the perpetrators.

Political analysts Watkins is an ex-academic who advocated for education, economic empowerment, and social justice.

“Rap music labels should be investigated for laundering money and deliberately promoting anti-black death culture,” Watkins declared in a tweet.

Authorities have targeted rap labels for being fronts for illegal activity such as money laundering or drug running.

One of Atlanta’s most popular hip-hop artists, Young Thug, was arrested on May 9, along with fellow rapper Gunna and other associates, for alleged gang activity as part of a 52-count RICO indictment.

RICO — the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — is a federal law that allows for prosecution and civil penalties for racketeering activity. It was originally used in the 1970s to prosecute the Mafia and others involved in ongoing organized crime.

The indictment alleges that Young Thug’s record label, YSL Records or Young Stoner Life Records, is an organized criminal organization.

The indictment lists more than 180 acts that support just the first of several separate charges handed down to the various members of the YSL. Among those charges are murder, aggravated assault, firearms violations, theft, drug possession, participating in street gang activity, armed robbery, and carjacking between 2012 and 2020, The New York Times reported. 

But sometimes the feds investigate rap labels and find nothing, but in the process destroy the business.

Murder Inc Records CEO Irv Gotti was arrested on January 26, 2005, and indicted on money laundering charges. Gotti (born Irving Lorenzo) and his brother Christopher were accused of laundering over $1 million in cash through their label for ‘80s drug lord, “Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, Hip Hop Wired reported. On December 2, 2005, the Gotti brothers were found not guilty of federal money laundering charges; but Murder Inc. was all but defunct by then.

But many observers say it is the labels that are profiteering the most from the violence the hip-hop world, and like Watkins notes, it has become a anti-Black death culture.

So some are wondering: Why haven’t the labels associated with the violence indicted as well?

“If the record label is funding a criminal enterprise and an outright gang allegedly committing murders according to the GOV, why isn’t the label included with the RICO?” asked The Moguldom Nation CEO Jamarlin Martin via Twitter in June.

Boyce D. Watkins is an American author, economist, political analyst, and social commentator. | Image: Anita Sanikop