Published Jan 20, 2021While a meme-hungry internet hoped that it would be Joe Exotic walking free, Donald Trump's list of pardons before leaving the White House did not include the Tiger King star. Instead, he turned his focus toward a handful of hip-hop luminaries.
Most notably was Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty to a federal weapons charge last year. He had been found carrying a gun and bullets when police searched his private plane in December 2019 and was facing a possible 10 years in prison.
In a statement, the White House said that Lil Wayne had been championed by Sovereign Brands CEO Brett Berish, who said the rapper was "trustworthy, kind-hearted and generous." The White House continued by saying the rapper had exhibited this generosity through commitment to a variety of charities, including donations to research hospitals and a host of food banks."
Lil Wayne met with Trump last October for a photo op, available above. On Twitter, the rapper praised Trump's work in criminal reform.
Kodak Black was also pardoned after being sentenced to nearly four years in jail in 2019 after making a false statement to buy a firearm. "Black is a prominent artist and community leader," White House officials said. "He has committed to supporting a variety of charitable efforts, such as providing educational resources to students and families of fallen law enforcement officers and the underprivileged."
Bradford Cohen, lawyer for Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, told Rolling Stone, "President Trump and his administration have been tireless advocates on behalf of the African-American community.... These pardons are a perfect example of this administration following up on its reforms and commitments."
Finally, Michael "Harry-O" Harris, co-founder of Death Row Records, was pardoned after Snoop Dogg lobbied on his behalf. Harris has served 32 years in prison for attempted murder and cocaine trafficking. The White House claimed that Harris had "an exemplary prison record for three decades," adding that he "mentored and taught fellow prisoners how to start and run businesses."