image credit: @KodakBlack1k
And in this week’s episode of “Where are they now?”, we’ll be discussing rapper Kodak Black, best known as the guy in the photo featured above, which you’ve probably seen used in some great memes over the past year or so.
However, the ever-photogenic Kodak Black’s trademark grimace has turned into a big, gold-grilled smile in the past year. He’s garnered the appreciation of Drake, who danced along to Kodak’s song “Skrt” in an Instagram video back in October 2015, bringing the young rapper to mainstream attention. Kodak was also awarded a coveted spot on this year’s XXL Freshman list, which includes Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage and Lil Yachty, all of whom have gone on to achieve mainstream success in the past few months.
But while his peers have been making the charts, Kodak (real name: Dieuson Octave) has been making headlines for his persistent legal troubles. After serving a sentence of 120 days on drug charges, he was recently released from St. Lucie County jail in Florida on November 28th.
Almost immediately afterward, Kodak was moved to Florence County, in South Carolina, where he is set to face trial on his most serious charge yet: sexual battery, which carries a maximum punishment of 30 years in prison. An unnamed victim who met Kodak after a performance in February has identified him as her attacker. Kodak was released on December 1st after posting a $100, 000 bail. Since then, Kodak has been enjoying his freedom, posting some really adorable photos on social media of himself playing with his son.
— Kodak Black (@KodakBlack1k) December 2, 2016
— Kodak Black (@KodakBlack1k) December 2, 2016
As much as these photos make me want him to not be guilty of the charges, we need to remember that Kodak is being charged with rape. This is same crime we posted hashtags about and shouted “white privilege” at when Brock Turner received his insufficient sentencing of six months after raping an anonymous woman last year, and then again when he only served half of the sentence. This is not to say that Kodak Black is guilty of rape – but if he is, what kind of sentencing, both legal and public, should he expect to receive?
Unsurprisingly, hip hop, the same genre that brought you “Bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks” and “You gon’ suck my dick or I’ll kill you“, hasn’t always treated issues of sexual assault, against women or men, with proper sensitivity. That said, we have seen some progress over the summer, when Ian Connor, a stylist and creative consultant who has worked with Drake, Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa and A$AP Rocky, added “serial rapist” to his impressive resume.
Malika Anderson, a student at Emory University, claimed that Connor attacked her in October 2014. Anderson explains in a blog post that she hesitated to file charges against Connor until December 2015, and didn’t have enough physical evidence for an arrest warrant. After Anderson’s story went viral, singer Jean Deaux posted her own story on Tumblr, claiming that Connor had raped her in 2013. Twitter users began to dig up some of Connor’s old tweets, which seemed to corroborate his apparent sexual entitlement.
Sometimes I Spend Money on Sex, Sometimes I Don’t.
Either Way I Get My Sex.
— Ian Connor (@souljaian) January 30, 2013
Just in case you need to show to all your friends how dumb Ian Connor is. pic.twitter.com/yJetcbAjmx
— lord quavo (@thelordquavo) April 8, 2016
After more women came forward, including a woman who claimed that Connor raped her when she was 16 years old, some of Connor’s associates began turning against him. Despite the mounting evidence, no formal charges other than Anderson’s have been brought against Connor, most likely because the cases are many years old. Disturbingly, none of his big name affiliates have spoken out against his troubling, if not criminal behavior. Kanye West even shouted out Connor in his crazy ass rant in Sacramento last month. This is, of course, the same Kanye who supports President Pussy-grabber and thinks Bill Cosby is innocent.
BILL COSBY INNOCENT !!!!!!!!!!
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 9, 2016
And while we should expect Kanye to root for the wrong person, remember that Drake, A$AP Rocky and Wiz Khalifa have all worked with Connor at one time or another, not to mention the numerous other people Connor is currently working with in the fashion world, including Kylie Jenner. None of these people have said anything about these ongoing allegations. Connor’s only censorship has been within the public sphere, and not by the brands he represents.
However, while we can’t change the minds of celebrities who are happy to work with rapists, we as consumers voice our approval when we give artists our money and attention. I don’t know if Kodak Black is a rapist, because the details of the charges haven’t come out yet. But when Kodak Black takes the stand, people like me who listen to his music and those who believe in the pursuit of justice need to give both him and his accuser a proper trial. If you want to think about how cute his son is, and what a nice father Kodak seems to be, that’s fine. But remember that his son may grow up with a rapist for a father. Remember that the fact that Kodak Black is 19 years old is not vindication, because Brock Turner was a freshman college student when he raped his victim. And remember that making good art is not an excuse to get away with whatever you want.
And remember this great scene from The Boondocks about the R. Kelly trial: