- 20 Jan 21
Black was serving a prison sentence and Lil Wayne pleaded guilty to a federal weapons charge.
As part of a series of last-minute pardons on his last day in office, US president has pardoned rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black. Other notable names on the list include Steve Bannon, Death Row Records founder Michael 'Harry-O' Harris and former mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick.
It was revealed in November by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida that Wayne was facing a federal weapons charge from December 2019. He pleaded guilty to the charge in December, which stemmed from an incident where Wayne's private plane, which was transporting him from California to Florida, was carrying marijuana and weapons. The aircraft was stopped and searched after Miami-Dade police tipped off federal authorities, according to the Miami Herald. Wayne was facing up to ten years in prison for the offence.
The White House statement released to justify Wayne's pardon cites his commitment to charity, and quotes Sovereign Brands’ Brett Berish (who calls him “trustworthy, kind-hearted, and generous”) and Deion Sanders (who praised him as “a provider for his family, a friend to many, a man of faith, a natural giver to the less fortunate, a waymaker, [and] a game changer”).
A few days before the election, Lil Wayne tweeted a photo of himself and Trump from his account, seemingly offering his endorsement, despite the face that Joe Biden won the election. "Just had a great meeting with [Donald Trump],” Wayne said. “Besides what he’s done so far with criminal reform, the platinum plan is going to give the community real ownership. He listened to what we had to say today and assured he will and can get it done.”
Kodak Black's current sentence is being served because he failed to indicate that he was under indictment while trying to purchase firearms. At the time, Black was out on bond for sexual assault charges in South Carolina. In March 2020, Black pleaded guilty to second degree criminal possession of a weapon. The rapper was in prison when Trump pardoned him.
Commenting on Black's commutation, the White House noted that the 23-year-old rapper had support from Gucci Mane, Lil Yachty, Lil Pump, Baltimore Ravens player Lamar Jackson, and more. “Before his conviction and after reaching success as a recording artist, Kodak Black became deeply involved in numerous philanthropic efforts,” the statement says. “In fact, he has committed to supporting a variety of charitable efforts, such as providing educational resources to students and families of fallen law enforcement officers and the underprivileged.”
Trump also commuted the sentence of Death Row Records co-founder Michael 'Harry-O' Harris. Harris was serving his 30th year of a 25-to-life sentence for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. “He is a former entrepreneur and has mentored and taught fellow prisoners how to start and run businesses,” the White House’s statement notes. “He has completed courses towards business and journalism degrees.”
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is due to be sworn in at 5pm GMT.