Nineteen-year-old US rapper Tay-K has been sentenced to 55 years in prison for murder, after a song he released while on the run was used as evidence against him.
Tay-K, born Taymor McIntyre, along with six other men was found guilty for the 2016 killing of Ethan Walker in Mansfield, Texas. The six men had reportedly intended to rob Walker and another man of drugs and money during a home invasion, when Walker was shot dead. According to Walker’s girlfriend, he had his hands in the air when he was shot.
McIntyre’s lawyers argued the 19-year-old didn’t fire the lethal shot, with McIntyre testifying his job was to find the drugs to steal. However, he was found guilty of murder as well as three counts of aggravated robbery.
McIntyre was just 16 when the crime took place, and it was only after the incident his rap career grew – mostly thanks to the infamy of his case and the way he publicly broke his house arrest.
After being charged for murder aged 16, McIntyre was put under house arrest. However, in March 2017, he removed the electronic tag around his ankle and fled. As he did, he wrote on Twitter: ‘fuck dis house arrest shit… they gn hav 2 catch me’, as The Guardian reports.
The young rapper made his way from his home in Texas north to New Jersey, where he then recorded the track The Race. The track seemed to gloat about his status as a fugitive on the run, with lyrics such as: ‘Ain’t beat that case, bitch I did the race,’ while the video appeared to show Tay-K posing in front of his own ‘Wanted’ poster.
Despite the song’s success – it reached number 44 in the US charts, was viewed more than 174 million times on YouTube, and was certified platinum in January 2018 – it also played a part in McIntyre’s arrest and conviction.
Prosecutors reportedly played the video for the track during the trial, as well as showing its lyrics to the court.
Authorities recaptured McIntyre in June 2017. He is accused of two further serious crimes, allegedly committed while he was on the run, for which he is awaiting trail: the murder of 23-year-old Mark Saldivar after an altercation in San Antonio, Texas, and the robbery and beating of 65-year-old Owney Pepe in Arlington, Texas.
According to The Fader, McIntyre will have to serve 27 and a half years in prison before he is eligible for parole.
In an interview with Genius News, University of Georgia law professor Andrea Dennis spoke about how the song implied McIntyre thought he was guilty:
The song is used [in court] to show that he was charged, he was on house arrest, cut off his ankle monitor and fled the jurisdiction. This song indicates he thought he was guilty.
The song is being on the run after being charged with multiple crimes and if you looked at the literal simplistic lyrics, might suggest he tried to beat a case, he didn’t so he fled the jurisdiction.
The lyrics, for example, read: ‘I was tryna beat a case / But I ain’t beat that case, bitch, I did the race.’
Tay-K’s music was recently removed from a Spotify playlist due to the streaming service’s Anti-Hate policy.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.