The rap lyrics that inspired the Wolverhampton killers – and the rappers who bragged their way to jail

Digga D
As part of a Criminal Behaviour Order placed on him in 2018, drill rapper Digga D had to notify the Met Police every time he released any music - WireImage

“Hocus, pocus, don’t try approach us,” goes the song Choppa by the British drill rapper SJ. “Wet man down bare blood on loafers. Ching, ching, ching,” he continues. “My Air Max just turned into Loubs/You should’ve seen the way man spilt his juice.”

For the uninitiated, Christian Louboutin shoes, or “Loubs,” are famous for having their soles painted red; SJ’s lyrics, therefore, are referencing the repeated stabbing (‘chinging’) of a rival that leaves the musician standing in a pool of their blood.

If that sounds startlingly vivid, then it’s no wonder: SJ is currently serving a life sentence for murdering a young father in north London in 2019. That should have been the last we heard from him. He was in the news again yesterday, however, after Nottingham Crown Court heard that one of the 12-year-olds who stabbed 19-year-old Shawn Seesahai to death with a machete in a park in Wolverhampton idolised the rapper.

The violent lyrics written by SJ, whose real name is Jayden O’Neill-Crichlow, were referenced in court this week because one of the boys had mentioned the drill artist before the murder of Seesahai; the boy had sent an image of the weapon inside his tracksuit bottoms to his co-defendant and a schoolgirl with the caption ‘Prison Freestyle’, a song created and published online by O’Neill-Crichlow from behind bars.

The child, who cannot be named, admitted that music videos had inspired him to clean the machete, which he bought for £40, with bleach. One of SJ’s songs includes the lyric “got my Rambz (knife) all bleached up”.

Drill lyrics, in which artists tend to “spit bars” about gang-related activity such as drug dealing and criminal violence, are often criticised for glamorising illegality.

It’s no surprise, then, that lyrics of the genre are increasingly being used as evidence in court, often to prosecute the criminals who actually created them. SJ’s own shamelessly confessional music was used against him, as was rapper Digga D’s, whose real name is Rhys Herbert: he was sentenced to a year in prison in 2018, aged 17, for conspiracy to commit violent disorder.

Digga D
Digga D - Joseph Okpako

Researchers at the University of Manchester found 68 cases between January 2020 and January 2023 in which rap evidence (lyrics, videos and audio recordings) was used by police and prosecutors to build cases against 252 defendants.

Below are some examples of rappers convicted of crimes between Jan 2020 and Jan 2023 – and the song lyrics that sealed their fate.

SJ

Jayden O’Neill-Crichlow, or SJ, was part of a gang armed with a sword, knives and a gun that hunted down and killed Kamali Gabbidon-Lynck,19, in February 2019. He was jailed alongside Sheareem Cookhorn, Tyrell Graham, Shane Lyons and Ojay Hamilton in January 2020.

Following the attack, O’Neill-Crichlow, who is a member of the group OFB, posted a video on YouTube titled Youngest in Charge, which includes lyrics about getting his shank [knife] “saucy”, meaning covered in blood, with the line “I just see an opp [rival], let me take him out” followed by the sound of gunshots. “RIP, he didn’t make it out,” the song continues. Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC told jurors: “Life, it would appear, has little value to them and is something to be taken away for almost no reason and then to be the subject of cruel and offensive bragging.”

Kay-O

Kammar Henry-Richards, known as Kay-O, was convicted of murder after lyrics linked the rapper to the killing of Kacey Boothe outside a child’s birthday party in east London in August 2022. Days after Boothe’s death, Henry-Richards bragged about the shooting in a rap video called Laughing Stock (featuring Digga D). He also referenced the attempt on Boothe’s brother, Kyle, who survived the attack. “Big Boothe and Little got hit, same sig, that’s a sour family,” Henry-Richards sang. “Both got slapped at functions, neck and head, handguns come handy.”

Lil Mdot

Joshua Erorh, also known as Lil Mdot, left Ahmad Torfi brain-damaged after a knife attack in March 2020 in New Cross Road, south east London. Erorh was charged with murdering Torfi, who died in June 2021.

He then spoke about the stabbing in a music video while on the run from police. In the clip he posted on YouTube he said: “Should have been dead but you pulled through fighting. Blue tape, it was done by me. I put A in the A&E.”

The then 18-year-old was jailed for 14 years in March 2021. Erorh was reportedly weeks from signing a deal with Universal Music when he carried out the attack.

PS Hitsquad

Alieu Koroma, aka PS Hitsquad
Alieu Koroma, aka PS Hitsquad - Central News/Met Police

Alieu Koroma, known as PS Hitsquad, was sentenced to serve more than five years in prison in October 2022 for drug dealing and possession of a lock knife. The rapper’s song Guten Tag / Jeden Tag was aired on BBC Radio 1 and has more than 2.4 million views on YouTube. In it Koroma says: “Still roll with my flick shank calmly. Flick that, push it in, twist it like a car key. Chef up,” he then adds: “Leave blood in the streets. Now I got blood on my sleeve.”

Koroma admitted running a drug operation between October 2021 and January 2022, with around 7,500 transactions among 800 customers. He was found in possession of a folding pocket knife when arrested.

Loski

Jyrelle O’Connor, or Loski, was jailed for seven years in January 2023 after being caught with a revolver while in an Uber. He is a member of the Kennington-based gang, the Harlem Spartans, who had been involved in violent turf wars with other gangs in South London. O’Connor was seen getting into a taxi under a false name in April 2019. Following a stop and search police found his DNA on the area of the gun used to load ammunition. Analysis of the revolver showed that O’Connor’s DNA was on the area of the gun used to load the ammunition.

Laura Hoon, CPS Prosecutor said: “Criminal gangs such as the Harlem Spartans are using drill music and social media to promote gang culture, glamorise the gang lifestyle and the use of weapons.” In his 2019 track Boasy, the rapper brags about “splashing” [stabbing] people and says: “I swear these other rappers don’t know how it feels when you’re doing so well but suttin’s gotta spill.”

Janiah Johnson-White & Jamal Johnson-White

Brothers Janiah-Johnson-White and Jamal Johnson-White were convicted after shooting a law student in Croydon, south London. On an Iphone recovered from Janiah Johnson-White, written drill rap lyrics contained violent references such as “I had 2 slap dat dots out da ride”, meaning gunshots from a car.

Stephen Dunford

Stephen Dunford was jailed for a minimum of 19 years in October 2020 for the drive-by shooting of a 12-year-old boy in January that year. The court heard how Dunford recited a song that he had written himself during a phone call in prison, where he said a “youth was hit by a stray” in reference to a bullet.

Scarz

Vasilios Ofogeli, aka Scarz, was handed a life sentence
Vasilios Ofogeli, aka Scarz, was handed a life sentence

Vasilios Ofogeli, known as Scarz, was found guilty of the murder of Andre Bent, 21, the cousin of S Club 7 singer Bradley McIntosh in May 2020.

The killing took place at the Gallery Nightclub in Maidstone, Kent, in August 2019, with Ofogeli later boasting about the attack in a video online.

The victim’s fiancée revealed she had seen a drill rap video on social media site, Snapchat, in which Ofogeli bragged that one person had been killed but “it should have been more,” the Old Bailey heard. A search of his prison cell uncovered five pages of lyrics, one of which said: “Should have seen the look on jury’s face when they played that video where I cheffed [stabbed] four in a day.” Handing him a life sentence with a minimum term of 20 years, Mrs Justice Cutts said posting the video on social media was an “unkind and wicked thing to do”.

Carlos Neto & Lawson Natty

Carlos Neto and Lawson Natty were both jailed for manslaughter after the fatal stabbing of Gordon Gault in November 2022.

Neto was jailed for nine years and two months while Natty was sentenced to two years eight months after a dispute, which started through rap songs between rival groups in Newcastle, spilled over into violence. Neto, who wielded the machete, wrote a song detailing the incident, according to prosecutors. Lyrics on Neto’s phone stated: “I’m a psychopath and I love it, murder case and I bust it.”

A rap song was also found on the phone of co-accused Lawson Natty, in which he reportedly discussed the killing of Gault and the stabbing of a 17-year-old boy in the same attack. The lyrics said: “Two got splashed in a day, we should have sent both of them to hell.”

Nathaniel Nugent

Nathaniel Nugent was sentenced to 27 years in prison in July 2022 after the repeated stabbing of Soloman Gordon.

After the incident in July 2021 the court heard Nugent had discarded the clothes he was wearing in the attack and then began editing rap lyrics at an address in Walsall, West Midlands, which included the verse: “Never got to slice his wig”, thought to refer to his victim’s head.

B-Levelz

A masked B-Levelz in the video for Serve Up
A masked B-Levelz in the video for Serve Up

Olusogo Ajewole, or B-Levelz, was sentenced to more than five years for selling crack and heroin as part of a drug operation in Essex in January 2022. He was found to have bragged about his crimes in videos online.

In footage where Ajewole is seen wearing masks and balaclavas he gloated about making large sums of money by recruiting “youngers” to sell drugs for him. In the lyrics he speaks about how police are investigating him and says: “I think I’m getting followed by Jakes”. The Essex drug unit working under the name Operation Raptor is also referenced later on in the song with the lyrics: “Raptors got me on edge”.

Abdirahaman Yussuf

Abdirahaman Yussuf stabbed Yahya Sharif to death as he got out of a car in Small Heath, Birmingham, in December 2021.

He was and was later convicted of murder in December 2022 after police found an envelope with a handwritten rap song where Yusssuf boasted about the murder.

The song referenced “ching” and “flash”, which means stabbing, as well as a “Canada Goose”, which was the same brand as the jacket Mr Sharif was wearing when he died.

Alexander Nyarashe

Alexander Nyarashe was jailed after being caught flushing wraps of drugs down a toilet of a property in Carlisle, Cumbria, in May 2020. During the investigation, police found rap videos where Nyarashe performed songs that contained references to weapons such as machetes, handguns and his “business” drug-dealing. The video also contained lyrics where he claimed to have stabbed and shot rival gang members in Liverpool. Nyarashe admitted supplying crack cocaine and heroin and was sentenced to three years six months in prison in February 2021.

During the investigation, police found rap videos where Nyarashe performed songs that contained references to weapons such as machetes, handguns and his “business” drug-dealing. The video also contained lyrics where he claimed to have stabbed and shot rival gang members in Liverpool.