American rapper A$AP Rocky has been released from jail in Sweden after being held in custody for a month on assault charges. Unusually, President Trump sent a hostage negotiator to intervene.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The rapper A$AP Rocky is out of Swedish jail and back in the U.S. this morning after a monthlong saga that’s drawn the attention of music fans, celebrities and President Trump. And as NPR’s Andrew Limbong reports, it’s not quite over yet.
ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: In case you don’t know, A$AP Rocky, real name Rakim Mayers, is a rapper and model from New York. He got popular off of a 2011 mixtape that he parlayed into a full-blown record deal.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “GOLDIE”)
A$AP ROCKY: (Rapping) A 40 ounce to chase it. That’s just the understatement. I’m early to the party. but my ‘Rari is the latest.
LIMBONG: The incident in question happened on June 30. Rocky, his bodyguard and his entourage were touring Stockholm. The rapper posted videos on Instagram, showing two men following them, even after being told to go away.
(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)
ROCKY: Just for the cameras, we don’t want no problems with these boys. They keep following us.
LIMBONG: Rocky even tries to de-escalate the situation.
ROCKY: Listen, listen, listen. We don’t want to fight y’all. We’re not trying to go to jail.
LIMBONG: It didn’t work. Other video captured part of a fight with Rocky, appearing to throw one of the men onto the ground. Swedish police call Rocky and his cohorts in for questioning, then put them in jail. Here’s when Rocky’s situation starts getting wider attention. Rappers like Tyler, the Creator and ScHoolboy Q announced boycotting the country. Kim Kardashian tweets at the president to do something. President Trump then also starts tweeting about Rocky. A$AP Rocky, along with the other two men, are then charged with assault, and the trial is held this week. In an unusual move, President Trump sent his special envoy for hostage affairs to watch. Here, A$AP Rocky tells the court that it was self-defense.
ROCKY: I couldn’t help but assume that these guys were under the influence of some type of drug.
LIMBONG: After hearing closing statements on Friday, the judge said Rocky and the other suspects are free to leave the country. On Instagram, Rocky posted a statement, thanking people for their support, saying I can’t begin to describe how grateful I am for all of you. This has been a very difficult and humbling experience. President Trump congratulated the rapper on Twitter, saying, get home ASAP, A$AP. The judge didn’t issue a verdict in the assault case yet. That’ll come August 14.
Andrew Limbong, NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF A$AP ROCKY SONG, “GOLDIE”)
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