After hitting it big with his breakout single “Hot Nigga” and its Vine-viral Shmoney Dance, Brooklyn rapper Bobby Shmurda (aka Ackquille Pollard) saw his fortunes turn late last year when he was arrested on drug and weapons charges and accused of running a street gang. A fascinating New York Times feature explores Pollard’s all-too-common plight (headline: “Street Image Helps a Young Rapper, Until It Doesn’t”).
Even though Pollard pled not guilty to all charges, he says his label, Epic, has wavered in their support, declining his request to help pay his $2 million bail: “When I got locked up, I thought they were going to come for me, but they never came.” Technically, Epic executive Michael Clervoix has visited Pollard in prison, but Clervoix wouldn’t say whether Epic would help with bail.
Says Pollard’s entertainment lawyer, Matthew Middleton, “These companies for years have capitalized and made millions and millions of dollars from kids in the inner city portraying their plight to the rest of the world. To take advantage of that and exploit it from a business standpoint and then turn your back is disingenuous, to say the least.” Middleton later adds, “I understand from a corporate standpoint that companies cannot put themselves in a position where it appears they’re supporting and condoning criminal activity. But he hasn’t been found guilty of anything yet.” The Times feature cites a long history of label heads including 50 Cent and Suge Knight getting their rappers out of jail, but notes, “as rap has become more corporate, that kind of aid is unusual.”
Pollard, who once vouched for the accuracy of his street-life narratives, also tells the Times that his stories were “fabricated” because “that’s what’s selling nowadays.” Epic should know: Middleton estimates that the label has “made their money back at least two or three times over.”
Below, watch Pollard perform his music in the Epic Records boardroom.
[Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images.]