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Trump Pardons Lil Wayne, Commutes Sentences for Death Row Records Co-founder Michael Harris and Rapper Kodak Black

It appears as though in his final hours in office, president Donald J. Trump, as reported, followed through on pardoning rapper Lil Wayne, and commuting sentences for Kodak Black and Death Row Records co-founder Michael “Harry-O” Harris, according to a statement from the press secretary for Trump. 

The statement shows, and as reported by several news outlets including WJW FOX 8, that Trump granted a full pardon to rapper Lil Wayne. The New Orleans native pleaded guilty in December 2020 to possessing a loaded, gold-plated .45 caliber handgun while traveling on private aircraft to South Florida in 2019. Authorities also found small amounts of cocaine, ecstasy and other controlled substances along with roughly $26,000 in cash. Wayne was scheduled for a Jan. 28 sentencing, and faced 10 years in prison.

(L-R): Lil Wayne, Kodak Black Photo: @liltunechi/Instagram @kodakblack/Instagram

Meanwhile, Kodak Black received a commutation — essentially a reduction in the severity of a sentence without vacating the conviction itself — by the 45th president. The 23-year-old was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for lying on an application to purchase a firearm. The Florida rapper had already served almost half of his sentence. 

Among the list of those receiving clemency was Death Row Records co-founder, Michael “Harry-O” Harris, with Trump commuting his sentence. Daily Mail reported that the former drug kingpin was released from Lompoc Federal Correctional Institution in California on Tuesday, Jan. 19,  after spending 32 years behind bars for attempted murder and cocaine trafficking. Harris had been in prison since 1988. During that time, the former businessman became an activist for prison reform. His sentence was set to last until 2028. 

Rapper Snoop Dogg, a signee on Death Row Records, was reportedly working tirelessly behind the scenes with Ivanka Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, and justice reform campaigners to try to convince Trump to commute the sentence.

On Monday, Jan. 18, the outgoing president signed Harris’s pardon. Daily Mail also reported that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows advised Trump against it, but his family ultimately swayed him. 

Social media reacted to the news of the stars being pardoned by Trump, including one user who wrote, “Yes, Trump pardoned Kwame Kilpatrick, Kodak Black, and Lil Wayne. No, proximity or engagement with Black people doesn’t make him ‘not racist.’ ”

Another person wrote, “I’m convinced Trump is secretly a hip-hop head.” That person added, “- He helped A$AP Rocky when he was locked up in Sweden – Pardoned Lil Wayne of a firearms charge – Released Kodak Black from prison.”

Aside from Wayne, Kodak and Harris, Trump commuted the sentence of former Detroit Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick. The 50-year-old had been convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. He also granted a full pardon to Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez. In 1994, the music executive and Jay-Z’s right-hand woman was arrested on drug, firearm and grand larceny charges.

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