Thought Police

NYPD Now Monitoring Online Rap Videos to Keep Tabs on Gang Members

At least it's less invasive than stop and frisk?

"Next time I'm going for the YouTube shift..." (Photo: Getty)

“Next time, I’m going for the YouTube shift.” (Photo: Getty)

Aspiring NYC rappers, watch what you let loose on your SoundCloud and YouTube accounts. The NYPD is now monitoring rap lyrics for clues about gang activities.

The New York Times reports that the NYPD is changing tactics in light of a reduced emphasis on stop-and-frisk. Now, it will be spending more time on long-term investigations and less time on hoping it catches criminals via random search.

“You really have to listen to the songs, because they’re talking about ongoing violence,” Officer Fred Vanpelt told the Times. This isn’t surprising, considering criminals have, since the dawn of the Internet, proven they aren’t too smart to post photos of and brag about stolen goods on social media.

You’d think that the knowledge that cops are listening would make some rappers change their subject matter, but apparently, a lot aren’t willing.

Patrice Allen, a manager of some rappers who are also under felony indictment in a Brooklyn gang case, reasons, “If you have that much passion and love for the music, I guess you have to deal with it. It’s bitter and sweet, you know?”

Right, because what’s really at stake here is someone’s rap hobby, not the lives they could be ruining with their gang activity.

The whole thing raises some interesting questions on whether song lyrics can truly incriminate someone. What about the posturing wannabe gangster rappers with rich parents uploading their crappy beats to SoundCloud? We’re not sure, but we have a feeling they’ll be O.K.

Follow Molly Mulshine on Twitter or via RSS. mmulshine@observer.com