CLEVELAND, OH – Emcee and rap artist “Rootabang” could almost be “Djay” in the film “Hustle & Flow” as the character portrayed by another Clevelander, actor Terrence Howard. Rootabang’s out in Cleveland’s streets hustling for long money and creates a song called “Money Long.” Djay’s was “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.”
Djay’s song becomes popular while he’s in jail for beating the shit out of another rapper, Skinny Black. Rootabang’s song becomes popular while he’s in between a jail term for a March 2015 rape and an August 2015 federal indictment for ripping off a casino with 16 others. He didn’t learn to keep his dick in his pants from his 2011 rape and kidnapping indictment and convention; and that 6 month jail sentence.
While free and in between jail sentences in 2017 Rootabang seemed to be headed away from the street life. He invested his long money into marketing himself as an emcee and rapper and wrote “Money Long.” The song and Cleveland-focused video was amazingly-successful and generated over 1 million views on YouTube that made him popular. His “storybook-like” success, locally, opened the door for him to sign with Jay Z’s Roc Nation in May 2018. His fans were cheering him on as it seemed as life was about to turn-around.
On his Instagram page Rootabang is seen celebrating the Roc Nation contract with his friends. The conversation is light, excited and funny. One of the men talks about his GED. Rootabang observes that his “whole name” is on the Roc Nation contract with Jay Z’s label. He jokes that, “My whole name ain’t been on nothing but an indictment and some child support papers.
A friend comments that it’s “amazing” and says “nobody has ever done this.” The “this” is the young artist’s stunning “come up” in between state and federal trials and two jail addresses.
There’s a moment in the Instagram celebration where Rootabang is silent and appears to be thinking about his good fortune in that May 31, 2018 moment knowing he’d be headed to federal prison in July.
The trio met at the Sweetheart’s bar on E. 36th and Superior for a hip hop show. They had two shots of Hennessy with Rootabang and he joined them at their home where he and Kenyatta or “Miracle” wanted to enjoy each other’s company. Paris simply wanted to sleep off the alcohol she’d consumed. Kenyatta Hines was okay with sharing her body with Rootabang. Her sister, Paris Thomas, was not.
While Paris slept the now two-time rapist decided she’d be his second victim. When she awoke and realized what he’d done to her body without her consent, Paris complained to police.
That conviction made him a “tier 1” sex offender who couldn’t live within 1000 feet of the schools he visited on behalf of Jay Z’s Roc Nation to promote his songs to children. It’s another reality of his life that creates a new set of legal problems for Rootabang that Jay Z’s label may have exposed him to on his federal prison release in June.
That exposure by Roc Nation, may even turn out to be a silver lining for the hard-luck but lucky rapper. Jay Z’s vast team of lawyers should have known to check the criminal records and probation requirements of Roc Nation’s roster of artists before sending them on tours that resulted in their violating laws and the terms of their probation.