The Brooklyn rapper, whose viral ascent was cut short by gang conspiracy charges, may serve the remainder of his seven-year sentence on parole, thanks to good behavior.
The Brooklyn rapper Bobby Shmurda, whose quick rise in the music industry was cut short when he was arrested on gang conspiracy charges in 2014, will be eligible for release from prison next month, the New York State Department of Corrections said on Monday.
Shmurda, 26, whose legal name is Ackquille Pollard, was sentenced in Oct. 2016 to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy and weapons possession in connection with what prosecutors said was his leading role in the GS9 gang, an offshoot of the Crips, in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Shmurda was denied parole in September, in part because of disciplinary actions taken against him while he was incarcerated, and he was ordered then to serve his maximum sentence, to Dec. 11, 2021. But after a review by the Department of Corrections, Shmurda’s credit for good institutional behavior was restored, making him eligible for conditional release as of Feb. 23, barring any further incidents, with the remainder of his sentence to be served on parole.
“I’m glad he’s coming home,” said Alex Spiro, a lawyer who represented Shmurda in the criminal case.
Before his arrest at a Manhattan recording studio in December 2014, Shmurda was enjoying a viral ascent in hip-hop thanks to a hit single, known as “Hot Boy” in its edited version, and a related meme originating on the social media app Vine that showed him throwing his hat in the air and doing his trademark “Shmoney Dance.” The move was mimicked by Beyoncé and in N.F.L. touchdown dances, helping send “Hot Boy” to No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Shmurda, then 19, signed a seven-figure, multi-album deal with Epic Records, but while awaiting trial and unable to pay his $ 2 million bail, he complained that the label had abandoned him. “When I got locked up, I thought they were going to come for me,” he told The New York Times in an interview, “but they never came.”
In the years since, though he had only released a handful of songs, Shmurda became something of a folk hero in rap; his release from prison has been highly anticipated by fans and fellow artists alike. His close collaborator, Rowdy Rebel, who was convicted in the same case, was released on parole last month.
While behind bars, Shmurda was disciplined for numerous violations involving fighting and possessing contraband, which damaged his standing with the parole board. In a partial transcript of the parole hearing published by New York magazine, Shmurda said that he was “trying to learn how to defend myself” while being held at Rikers Island, calling the jail “just a crazy place.”
Shmurda is currently being held at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., according to the Department of Corrections inmate database.
He told the parole board last year that he hoped to return to rap and the entertainment business, while also counseling children from neighborhoods similar to the one where he grew up. “I was just young, I was just being a follower,” he said, “and then I got older, I started making music and then I seen my life take off in a different path, but my past just caught up with me.”
In a recent interview with NPR’s Louder Than a Riot podcast, Shmurda suggested that he should have started rapping earlier. “I would have never been in the streets, you know what I mean?” he said. “My biggest regret is not following my dreams earlier.”