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Hip-Hop Police Monitoring Rap Videos to Better Understand Gang Rivalries

Andrew Burton, Getty Images

The hip-hop police have long been investigating criminal activity within the rap industry. It’s been reported that the New York Police Department has a 500-page dossier containing some of the biggest rappers in the game. Now comes word that cops are monitoring rap videos to surveillance inner-city gang rivalries.

According to the New York Times, police and prosecutors are examining rap videos by up-and-coming rappers to build cases on gang-related shootings to get a better sense of the hierarchy of the streets.

Officer Fred Vanpelt, who is part of an anti-gang squad in Brooklyn, N.Y., says watching rap videos is crucial to understanding gang activity. “You really have to listen to the songs because they’re talking about ongoing violence,” he told the NY Times.

Officer Vanpelt explained one case, in which police examined a video by aspiring rapper Murda Malo, who is part of a rap crew called Addicted to Cash. Authorities also describe A.T.C. as a criminal organization allegedly known for shooting at its rivals.

Apparently, Malo presented a “keystone piece of evidence” in one of his videos against a rival gang that police are now building a case against.

Police wouldn’t reveal what that evidence is in fear that the rappers would take down the videos.

For the rappers, it’s all part of the territory when making hardcore trap music.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” said Patrice Allen, who currently manages Malo and another A.T.C. member, K-Dot, who are both under felony indictment in a Brooklyn gang case. “If you have that much passion and love for the music, I guess you have to deal with it. That’s just what comes with the music. It’s the bitter and the sweet, you know?”

The trend of disrespecting rivals in rap videos is nothing new. But now it’s elevated into gang warfare. Not only that, these alleged videos are attracting a large number of views on the Internet.

“It’s not just that the whole neighborhood knows about the dispute,” said New York narcotics prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan. “You can get tens of thousands of hits on a YouTube video. It’s a much bigger arena.”

Meanwhile, Malo claims he’s innocent and says that he has spent thousands of dollars fighting his legal case. The rapper said he would rather spend that money on studio time.

“I’m not in any gang,” he told the NY Times. “We have copyrights for our organization; we are a music group. O.T.S. Entertainment. A.T.C. Entertainment. This is a music group, you dig?”

Next: Watch 'The Field' Documentary About Chicago Violence & Hip-Hop

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