In February 2019, Florida rapper YNW Melly was arrested on two counts of first-degree murder. Born Jamell Demons, the then-19-year-old was amid a swelling rap career under the YNW Melly moniker. From collaborating with Kanye West to delivering the hit single “Murder On My Mind,” he had a highly successful career ahead of him. Unfortunately, the song was more-so engrained in reality rather than fiction than fans would’ve thought.
Demons had an early fascination with music as an outlet for his chaotic childhood. Listening to artists like Chris Brown, he began recording music as a wild teenager. His mother gave birth to him when she was the mere age of 14. However, that lack of guidance would manifest in various unhealthy fixations. Demons took a precocious interest in guns as early as elementary school. In fact, he’s openly discussed bringing a revolver with him to school daily in fourth grade.
YNW Melly Had A Past Of Violence
YNW Melly’s song “Murder On My Mind” was rooted in his fixation with firearms. As a 16-year-old, he was charged with three counts of aggravated assault and one count of discharging a firearm in a public setting. He later told Billboard that being locked up inspired his chorus on the track, stating, “The first time I got locked up. I was like 15 or 16. I woke up and I had that chorus.”
On the track, Melly states, “His body dropped down to the floor and he had teardrops in his eyes/ He grabbed me by my hands and said he was afraid to die/ I told ’em it’s too late my friend, it’s time to say ‘goodbye.’” In retrospect, his fixation with violence was certainly unhealthier than the traditional discussions surrounding the topic in hip-hop. However, “Murder On My Mind” was released when outraged barbarity became mainstream hip-hop’s mainstay. Amid the SoundCloud era of sound, YNW Melly’s hit track blended in with other trap-banger hits that covered similar narratives.
Demons & YNW Bortlen Face Two Counts Of Murder
Before being arrested in February 2019 for the murder of two of his past friends, he had been in and out of prison. It’s a wonder that YNW even managed to grow his career continually. He was in a cyclical and chaotic routine. Melly would spend roughly six months in prison, then create music and persistently tour when he was out. On August 3, 2018, he released his first full-length mixtape in the form of I Am You. From a Chris Brown interpolation to the maternal ode in the form of “Mama Cry,” the mixtape blended his signature bangers with a softer side to his creative personality.
While creating his first full-length studio album, YNW Melly was associated with a new controversy. Christopher Thomas Jr and Anthony Williams, members of the YNW crew, were shot and killed on October 26, 2018. The two were dead before police arrived at the scene. Known as close friends and fellow MCs to Melly, he took to social media to mourn their passing, stating, “They took my brothers from me over jealousy.”
A few months later, Melly’s official documentary arrived on YouTube. The documentary primarily focuses on his troubling prison life and rise to fame. However, the end of the video claims that YNW Melly and his two murdered friends were the targets of a drive-by shooting in Miami. On the same day, he revealed that he was recording with Kanye West for the rumored Yandhi.
Melly Is Potentially Facing The Death Penalty
While Kanye West and YNW Melly were reportedly working together on music, Melly was arrested on murder charges along with Cortlen Henry, known as YNW Bortlen, on February 13, 2019. Police alleged that he shot and killed Thomas Jr and Williams. Furthermore, they accused Melly of staging the deaths as a drive-by shooting to clear his name.
Even during Melly’s time in prison, he continued releasing albums likely in the vault before he began serving time. Melly vs. Melvin spent 31 weeks on the Billboard 200 charts. Just a Matter of Slime featured Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Baby, Future, and more. The album debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 charts.
Since YNW Melly was imprisoned on murder charges, he has yet to see the light of day. Melly is set to face trial on the week of June 20th, with the jury selection process still ongoing. Per Florida’s recent law changes, only eight juror votes are now required to recommend the death penalty if a defendant is found guilty. This isn’t the case for Henry, who has been under house arrest since 2020. Now 24, YNW Melly has received a slew of supportive messages under the tag #FreeMelly. His little brother, dubbed YNW BSlime, has been releasing multiple tracks calling for his release.