Battle rapper Tsu Surf was arrested in Jersey City last week on federal charges.
The rapper–real name Rahjon Cox–made his first court appearance on Friday but did not enter a plea. WNYW-TV in New York reports that Cox hired an attorney to represent him, but the attorney could not make the hearing on Friday. The judge allowed another lawyer to fill in for the rapper for Friday’s hearing.
U.S. marshals arrested the rapper on Thursday afternoon at a house in Jersey City. The arrest is one of multiples connected to a group of New Jersey-based Crips who call themselves the Silverbacc Gorillas, or SBG for short. Nine other people named in the indictment are accused of carjacking, and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, cocaine, and other illicit substances.
TMZ reports that the indictment says the rapper assisted in a shooting against a rival gang member in March 2017. It also alleges that the rapper used his official Instagram page to coordinate an MDMA drug deal in April 2018. Prosecutors also claimed the rapper illegally possessed a firearm in July 2019 and later mourned law enforcement seizing the weapon from him as a joke.
The arrest comes on the heels of the Young Thug and Gunna arrests for their involvement with the Young Slime Life street gang in Atlanta. Georgia prosecutors are heavily citing the rapper’s lyrics as evidence in those trials. It has led both New York and California to pass bills that seek to put restrictions on how creative works can be used in trials.
California’s bill doesn’t seek to lock rap lyrics out of evidence completely. But it does establish a new set of restrictions that the prosecution must meet to enter those lyrics as evidence of criminal culpability in any future trial. The Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act was unanimously approved by the state’s senate and assembly in August before Governor Newsom signed it into law.