Philly’s AR-Ab was sentenced to 45 years in federal prison this week

AR-Ab on Vlad TV
Abdul West, who rapped under the name AR-Ab, disusses street business on the YouTube channel, Vlad TV in 2017. West was sentenced in April 2021 to 45 years in prison on drug charges. Vlad TV
AR-Ab, real name Abdul West, had a fledging rap career and, according to even him, ran a successful drug business in Philadelphia until one October day in 2018 when the federal government swooped in for it’s pound of flesh, charging West and members of his team with conspiracy to distribute and distribution of cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, and heroin.

During his 2019 trial, West was accused of ordering the murder of rival drug dealer Robert Johnson in 2017. Prosecutors did not charge West in the killing, but gunman, Dontez “Taz” Stewart, a former associate of West, was allowed to testify that West gave the orders. West was convicted of several counts of conspiracy and distribution in November 2019 but was not sentenced until this week.

On Thursday, April15, U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson sentenced West to a whopping 45 years in federal prison. During sentencing, Judge Baylson called West’s behavior on the streets “antisocial” adding, “You could have been a hero instead of a criminal. But you became a drug dealer. You made that decision. That’s why you’re being punished.”

West was defiant till the end, telling the judge, “The court, the FBI agents, and the prosecutors don’t understand my culture. We don’t rap about flowers and rainbows. We’re gangsta rappers. We rap about where we grew up. So we rap about drug dealing. We rap about violence.”

West, 38, is the founder of Original Block Hustlaz (OBH), a record label that shares the name of the gang he led. He released a number of mix tapes between 2008 and 2018, but no official studio album. And has worked with producer Swizz Beatz and rapper Cassidy among others. West’s music is filled with references to drugs and drug dealing, but fans and observers credit West’s willingness to speak openly on video and social media about his involvement in criminal and gang activity — notably his appearances on the YouTube channel, VladTV — for helping the government build it’s case against him.

West is expected to appeal his sentence.

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