San Diego-based rapper Tiny Doo could receive 25 years to life in prison for violent lyrics in his album No Safety, from which prosecutors allege he directly benefited as a result of criminal gang violence.
Doo, whose real name is Brandon Duncan, appeared on CNN Thursday night in an interview with Don Lemon, in which he maintained that the charges against him are false. He promoted his album during the live interview and said his lyrics merely “paint a picture of urban street life.”
Duncan, 32, and 14 other co-defendants were charged with nine counts of criminal street gang conspiracy involving nine local shootings and attempted murder starting in May of 2013. Duncan could get 25 years to life in prison if convicted under a 2000 California statute that will likely be receiving much more air time as a result of this case.
Under California Penal Code 182.5, it is considered a felony for anyone to participate in a criminal street gang, to have knowledge that a street gang has engaged in criminal activities, or to promote, assist, or benefit from that activity. In Duncan’s case, the last part of that clause–benefiting from criminal activity–is why prosecutors are after him, notes CNN.
The issue lies in the fact that Duncan allegedly saw an increase in album sales and an elevation in stature and respect (“street creds”) following the series of shootings which began in San Diego in 2013. Prosecutors are charging that Duncan directly benefited from this because his street gang received greater notoriety after the shootings, which resulted in his album receiving a large increase in sales.
Duncan, who is a father to seven children, insists that he is no longer a gang member. The prosecution suggests otherwise. At a preliminary hearing, they had presented posts from social media that they insist prove Duncan is still in a gang. During his CNN interview, Duncan also said he had no knowledge of the gang’s activities or attempted murders. His case marks the first time the law has been enforced in a criminal case.
Some of the lyrics on No Safety include, “You can get a full clip, my n—– ’bout to bull—-, and make your top disappear like an illusionist.” The cover of his album features a revolver and bullets.
When asked, at the end of the interview, if he would continue rapping, Duncan said, “These people have you scared to do anything around here,” to which Lemon said, “Yeah” and chuckled in agreement. Duncan then cited free speech and said that he felt the prosecutors were not attempting to eradicate gangs with the procedure of his case, but, instead, they were “trying to eradicate black men.”
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter: @AdelleNaz.