Florida Rapper YNW Melly Charged With Killing Two Members of His Own "YNW" Rap Crew

YNW Melly
YNW Melly Photo by Ziggy 2milli via Wikimedia Commons / Broward's Sheriff's Office
Like most Soundcloud rappers, up-and-coming Treasure Coast hip-hop artist YNW Melly has a bunch of face tattoos. Curiously, the 19-year-old Melly had an artist ink the word "Sakchaser" on his forehead, just above his left eye. The tattoo honored a fallen friend: A member of Melly's rap crew, YNW Sakchaser, was shot dead in October 2018.

Now, however, police claim YNW Melly, born Jamell Maurice Demons, was the one who pulled the trigger.

Miramar Police reported last night that Demons and another member of the YNW crew — Cortlen Henry, AKA YNW Bortlen — were arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the killings of Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr. — known as YNW Juvy and YNW Sakchaser — on October 26, 2018. A police media release said Henry (YNW Bortlen) drove a getaway car. Melly, the cops said, killed his friends.

Melly turned himself in to police last night. In an Instagram post, he dismissed the charges as "rumors" before reiterating his love for his two slain friends.

"To all my fans and supporters no I did not get locked up in Washington, but I am turning myself in today," he wrote. "I want you guys to know I love you and appreciate every single one of y’all, a couple months ago I lost my two brothers by violence and now the system want to find justice... unfortunately a lot of rumors and lies are being said but no worries god is with me and my brother @ynw.bortlen and we want y’all to remember it’s a ynw Family I love you @ynwsakchaser1 and @ynwjuvy #freeus"

Melly moved to Broward County after his career began taking off. Broward, which birthed similarly problematic stars XXXTentación and Kodak Black, is arguably the epicenter of America's SoundCloud-rap movement right now.
Melly spent most of his young life struggling with legal issues. Born in tiny Gifford, Florida, he started uploading songs to SoundCloud at age 15 and was jailed on gun charges at age 16 for a shooting in which he was allegedly involved. He began releasing singles from jail, including one named "Melly the Menace" and another called "Slang That Iron." One of his songs, "4 Real" has amassed more than 7.2 million views.

But, as is the case with many SoundCloud rappers, Melly's star soared as he boasted about his legal struggles and violent tendencies. In a video one of his followers posted this morning, he said he once "brought a knife to school... done some terrorist-type shit. I sliced my neck. I sliced her neck. Then they sent me to the crazy home."

This past June, Fort Myers cops stopped him for holding pot and a weapon. He got out of jail but was stopped again in January for pot possession. After that arrest, as his career took off, he tweeted he would be free in time for the tour that was to begin in Phoenix today. He was also supposed to appear at the Ground in Miami on February 20 and take part in Kodak Black’s Dying to Live Tour.

An album, I Am You, was released this past August. It included the single "Murder on My Mind."

In yesterday's arrest, cops said Demons and Henry cooperated to kill Williams, age 21, and Thomas,19, then tried to make it look like the pair was killed in a drive-by shooting. Someone then put the two victims in a Jeep Compass and dropped them just before 5 a.m. outside Memorial Hospital Miramar.

Predictably, the arrest came just as Melly was seemingly about to hit the big-time: Last month, he released a single, "Mixed Personalities," that featured Kanye West.
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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse
Jerry Iannelli is a staff writer for Miami New Times. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University. He moved to South Florida in 2015.
Contact: Jerry Iannelli