what is actually going on with a$ap rocky?
We break down exactly what has happened since the rapper was arrested in Sweden.
Image via A$AP Rocky's Instagram
The past month has been a wild ride for A$AP Rocky. If you’re not aware, the rapper is currently being held in jail in Sweden following an alleged assault at the beginning of July. A$AP has so far been detained for 20 days and it’s currently unclear when he’ll be released. The whole thing has escalated so much that even the President of the United States has decided to become involved in the ongoing drama, which has since become an international incident.
Trump isn’t the only big name to air an opinion about what is happening to A$AP. Everyone from Justin Bieber, Diddy, Tyler, the Creator and Kim Kardashian West have been decrying that fact that their friend, colleague and fellow musician has been detained in another country. There have also been accusations of racism and mistreatment levied at Sweden’s legal system, a country renowned for its progressive approach to prisons and prisoner rehabilitation.
The situation has now escalated even further -- congress and the President of the United States are directly in contact with the Swedish government. But how exactly did this all happen? We’ve broken down everything you need to know about the curious case of A$AP Rocky.
It all began at the end of June. After launching the European leg of his Injured Generation tour, and ahead of a performance at Stockholm’s Smash x Stadion Festival, the 30-year-old musician was involved in an altercation in which the police were called. On 1 July, footage of the incident began to circulate online. The clips seemed to show A$AP, along with three other men, attacking two men in the street.
A day later, the rapper shared his own footage of the incident. These less inflammatory videos showed how, before the alleged attack, the group he was with had been followed and hit with a pair of headphones by two men, and how, repeatedly, they told the two men to stop following them and leave them alone. Nevertheless, an arrest warrant was issued by police, and after performing at the festival, A$AP and his team voluntarily handed themselves into police.
After having to pull out of a number of festival appearances and concert dates, it was announced on 5 July that Swedish authorities were going to hold A$AP Rocky and those involved for two weeks while they investigated the situation. Their reasoning for the detention, the authorities said, was because the rapper was considered a flight risk. A lawyer for Rocky said that they were going to appeal the ruling.
Accusations of mistreatment
Still, this decision was enough for the accusations of mistreatment to start rolling in. Starting with A$AP Ferg, who wrote on Instagram that his pal was “locked up in solitary confinement with no visit or phone call privileges”. On 9 July, a Change.org petition was launched, alleging that Rocky “was denied his request to counsel which is in violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which Sweden is a signatory.'' Similarly, a TMZ report suggested that Rocky was visited by a member of US Consulate in Sweden, who said that walking into the jail “was like walking into a toilet”. The report also claimed that for the first five days of his detention, A$AP Rocky had only eaten an apple a day, and that he was sleeping on a yoga mat without a blanket.
Meanwhile, A$AP’s request for an appeal was rejected by the Swedish High Court. The decision was met with backlash from the hip-hop community, with both Tyler, the Creator and ScHoolboy Q tweeting that they would no longer visit Sweden. In a statement delivered to Spin, the US Department of State also said that they were aware of the arrest and that they were “actively monitoring the situation”.
Things get political
On 12 July, the Swedish Prosecution Authority released a statement which confirmed that their investigation into the incident was still ongoing. This news saw the case elevated from social media outcry to legitimate, as politicians in America began to get involved. In a video captured by TMZ, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, a caucus made up of most African American members of the United States Congress, said that they would demand A$AP Rocky’s freedom. Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York tweeted: “for yrs, the hip hop police harassed artists in NYC, LA, the dirty South & beyond. Some thought those days had ended. But racially-charged policing endures. And apparently it’s worldwide #FreeASAPRocky [sic]”
In a joint statement, Jeffries, along with Representative Adriano Espaillat, Democrat of New York, called for A$AP’s release, saying: “This incident serves as yet another example of the racially-motivated focus and prejudices young men of colour are subjected to around the world.”
The New York Times later reported that Kanye West asked his wife, Kim Kardashian, to make a call to President Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to see whether there was anything that could be done to free A$AP. According to the report, Trump then spoke with the Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, to ensure that the conditions of the rapper’s detention were fair.
Trump’s involvement comes following another strained week for the President, after he told non-white congresswomen to “go back” to their home countries, once again igniting accusations that he and his administration are racist. Taking to Twitter, Trump said that after a conversation with Kanye West, he would speak to “the very talented Prime Minister of Sweden” in an attempt to resolve the issue surrounding A$AP’s incarceration.
Nevertheless, despite Trump’s involvement, less than 24 hours later Swedish authorities said that they would be detaining the rapper for one more week so they had “time to complete the investigation”. Trump then tweeted that he’d spoken to said Prime Minister of Sweden and had “assured him that A$AP was not a flight risk and offered to personally vouch for his bail, or an alternative”.
The President’s involvement was praised by Kim Kardashian, who said that she appreciated the Trump administration's “commitment to justice reform”. However, Justin Bieber had a more muted response. While he said he was pleased that Trump was helping free his friend, he added “while your at it, can you also let those kids out of cages?”
Still, the Prime Minister of Sweden later told the New York Times that despite Trump’s involvement, “in Sweden everyone is equal before the law and that the government cannot and will not attempt to influence the legal proceedings”.
And thus that explains exactly how this situation has been elevated from the latest celebrity drama to an international incident. The Swedish Prosecution Authority have said they have until 25 July to decide whether to indict A$AP Rocky. But even if he is freed, the implications of his detention will no doubt be felt for more time to come.