Rising rapper Bobby Shmurda, who scored a top 10 hit that spawned the “Shmoney Dance” craze, on Thursday was facing 25 years in prison on violence and drug charges.
Shmurda and seven associates were arrested early Wednesday morning near a recording studio in New York’s Times Square, while seven others were arrested elsewhere, prosecutors said.
The 20-year-old New York rapper, whose real name is Ackquille Pollard, was formally charged Thursday in a court session where bail was set at $2 million. He pleaded not guilty, with his lawyer calling the charges “ridiculous.”
An indictment accused Shmurda of being part of a gang called the G Stone Crips that was involved in shootings against rivals in New York’s borough of Brooklyn. Prosecutors said that police seized 21 guns, including two in Shmurda’s car near the studio.
“These violent individuals will now be held accountable for their decision to participate in a gang which has brought a disturbing level of violence to the streets of Brooklyn and beyond our city’s borders,” New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said in a statement.
Shmurda’s career has boomed this year with his song “Hot Nigga,” which is full of references to guns and street life. The song — edited for mainstream radio as “Hot Boy” — climbed to number six on the Billboard singles chart.
The song went viral thanks to the accompanying “Shmoney Dance,” which features moving elbows in and out and was quickly emulated by more established rappers as well as mainstream artists including Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber.
Well before his hit song, the indictment said that Shmurda in February 2013 was present when one of his gang colleagues shot dead a rival after bursting into a Brooklyn corner shop.
Prosecutors said that police were secretly taping telephone conversations and that Shmurda in April this year said, “I am two socks Bobby right now,” with socks being a code word for a gun.
Charges against Shmurda included a count of conspiracy to commit second-degree murder.
A last tweet from Shmurda’s account asked fans to get in touch to find out the location of a secret performance that was to have taken place Wednesday.