Beating the Rap: English Convict Two Men on Use of Rap Song to Intimidate Witnesses

Rappers have long used their song to glorify their past crimes and criminal credentials. However, in England, the rap song itself was the crime for Ishmael McLean, 22, from Greenford, and Rowan Simon, 18. They are accused of using an Internet song to intimidate witnesses to the murder of Jason Johnson, 24.

Police say that the video warned witnesses not to talk to police and was sent to them by the two men. Entitled “Wrong Team”, the song featured a backing chorus and the ominous sound of gunfire. It was posted on YouTube, MySpace and Facebook. It had such lines as ‘I can’t wait for the snitch to drop, I still show up at his wake just to see him off’.” It was known that one witness had come forward but the identity of the witness was unknown.

Old Bailey Judge Richard Hone interpreted the lyrics as meaning that “Those who went chitter-chattering to police were themselves in danger of being shot.” “Chittering-chattering” would never make an American gangsta rap.

McLean was jailed for four years and Simon was jailed for 30 months.
McLean was also sentenced to a year in jail for possessing ammunition, the term to run concurrently.

While we have not seen songs as the criminal act, we have seen rap songs as the key piece of evidence in prior crimes, here and here.

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