Fetty Wap was sentenced to six years in federal prison Wednesday after pleading guilty last year to federal drug charges.
Attorneys for the “Trap Queen” star (real name Willie Junior Maxwell II) had urged the judge to issue only a five-year sentence, the minimum allowed under the law. Prosecutors instead asked for between seven and nine years, urging the judge to “send a message” against a star who used his music to “glamorize the drug trade.”
At a hearing Wednesday in Long Island federal court, Judge Joanna Seybert split the difference – ordering the rapper to serve a six-year sentence, to be followed by an additional five years of post-release supervision.
An attorney for Fetty did not immediately return a request for comment. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed the sentence but declined to comment further.
Fetty Wap was arrested in October 2021 at Rolling Loud New York, after prosecutors unveiled an indictment against him and five others. Prosecutors claimed group had shipped more than 100 kilograms of the drugs from California and distributed them on Long Island, contributing to “the addiction and overdose epidemic we have seen time and time again tear people’s lives apart.”
In August, Fetty admitted to participating in the scheme, pleading guilty to a single charge of conspiring to distribute at least 500 grams of cocaine.
Ahead of Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, his lawyers pleaded for leniency, saying he “realizes the terrible mistake he made” and is “truly sorry for the loss and hurt he has caused.” Seeking the minimum of five years, they argued that Fetty only turned to crime to support family members as his touring income dried up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Personal gain was not his motivation,” they wrote. “Rather, he was motivated by his commitment to financially support others.”
But prosecutors quickly fired back with a darker story: Of a successful musician who had already earned millions but chose to “supplement his income” by selling “drugs he knew would ruin lives.” And notably, they cited Fetty’s music itself, claiming he should receive a harsher punishment in part because he used his songs to “glamorize the drug trade.”
“Before his arrest, the defendant became famous singing about his experience cooking crack cocaine, selling drugs and making substantial money from those illegal endeavors,” prosecutors wrote. “Young people who admire the defendant and are considering selling drugs need to be sent a message.”
Such references to rap lyrics in criminal cases has come under scrutiny in recent years. Critics say drugs and violence are stock elements of hip-hop and should not be treated literally — and that by doing so, prosecutors infringe on free speech and sway courts with unfair evidence, with predictably disproportionate harm inflicted on Black artists.