In the last hours of his role as the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump pardoned prominent rap figures such as Lil Wayne, Kodak Black and Death Row Records co-founder Michael Harris.
Although Trump used the last days of his presidency to pardon or commutate the prison sentences of 143 people, countless social media users have expressed their confusion over the former president’s decision to grant clemency to certain artists over others.
In particular, many individuals pondered Trump’s motivation for granting Kodak Black and Lil Wayne their freedom. In 2019, Kodak was arrested for weapons possessions and was sentenced to nearly four years in prison. The Florida native is also currently facing charges for first-degree criminal sexual conduct in the state of South Carolina, which would lead to an additional sentence of 30 years in prison if he was convicted.
Wayne, who pleaded guilty just last month to a federal weapons charge, was slated to serve 10 years in prison. Wayne visited the White House in November and publicly endorsed Trump via Instagram, which may indicate a potential motivating factor behind the former president’s decision to pardon the rapper.
In response to Trump’s omission of certain artists from his pardon list, celebrities and fans alike have expressed their frustration via social media, including rapper Boosie BadAzz. Boosie tweeted his anger toward Trump after his friend, C-Murder, was left off of the pardon list. C-Murder, Master P’s brother, was convicted of fatally shooting 16-year-old Steven Thomas in 2002. Yet, in 2018, two key witnesses in the case recanted their statements and several jurors stated that they had been pressured into voting to convict the artist during his trial. Nevertheless, in January 2019, Judge Steven Enright of the 24th Judicial District Court refused to throw out the original conviction or grant C-Murder another trial.
Other artists that were left by the wayside include Bobby Shmurda, YNW Melly, and former Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight. Knight was sentenced to 28 years in prison after a 2015 hit-and-run that killed Terry Carter, but Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood personality Ray J claims that Knight has since “learned his lesson” while in prison. Ray J considered working with the Trump administration to eventually free Knight, but changed his mind after deciding that any affiliation with Trump might tarnish his reputation within the Black community. This fear has been substantiated by the overwhelmingly negative responses that followed Lil Wayne and Kanye West‘s associations with Trump.