On February 7th, Oakland rap legend Kead Da Sneak will have to turn himself into prison. In January 2017, Keak Da Sneak survived an ambush that nearly claimed his life. After performing in Tracy, a friend was dropping Keak off to his car when men pulled up and attempted to rob them. Keak narrowly escaped with his life. Now, after Keak Da Sneak was nearly paralyzed from the January 2017 shooting, Keak Da Sneak proclaims his jail sentence is inhumane due to his medical condition.
"After that, I got a gun," says the rapper, whose real name is Charles Kente Williams. Because of his hardscrabble early life in Oakland's streets and his local celebrity as a godfather of the Bay Area's hyphy movement, he says, he's been the target of multiple violent attacks.
"Me being from the streets, this environment I grew up in, the streets will suck you in and spit you out," he tells me over the phone. "There’s no love."
California law prohibits Williams from owning a firearm as a convicted felon. But because he earns less as a musician than he did in the '90s, when he was signed to Virgin Records with his group 3X Krazy—or in the 2000s, when he helped define the regional sound with tracks like " Super Hyphy " and E-40's " Tell Me When To Go "—he couldn't afford armed security. He took it upon himself to carry a weapon for self-defense.
Today, Jan. 28, Williams begins a 16-month sentence in state prison for one count of possession of a firearm as a felon. Though he has severe physical disabilities from the January 2017 incident and another shooting that occurred months later in Richmond (he uses a wheelchair full time, as well as a colostomy bag and a catheter, and sees a nurse three times a week), he says that over the two-year legal battle, prosecutors were unsympathetic to his condition and refused to consider house arrest as a part of his plea bargain.
"It feels like they had no compassion," he says. "My health is not good. I know they’re not gonna give me the treatment I need in prison. I’ve been to jail before, and once you get behind these walls, they have no compassion. You have to be on your dying bed for them to give you some assistance."
Williams' felony firearms possession charge goes back to March 2017. As he remembers it, he had the gun hidden in his car while returning from a night of gambling at a casino in Amador County, a rural area east of Sacramento whose population is 89-percent white, according to the latest census estimate. A police officer ran Williams' license plate at a gas station and saw that he was on probation from a prior firearm charge, and decided to search his car.
"It was really racial profiling at an all-time high," Williams says.
According to public records, the Amador County district attorney charged Williams with four felonies and one misdemeanor: possession of a firearm as a felon, possession of ammunition as a felon, receiving stolen property, driving with a suspended or revoked license and possession of a controlled substance. Over the course of the two-year court case, the district attorney dropped all charges except for firearm possession.
Not long after the criminal case began, Williams survived another shooting in August 2017, and his health took a major turn for the worse. That incident took place as Williams left a casino after another night of gambling. He was sitting in his parked car near a Richmond gas station when, he recalls, someone attempted to open the driver's side door. The next thing he saw was a barrage of gunfire.
"The first bullet busted the window and hit me in the face, grazed my face," he says. "It made me put my arms up and guard my head, so I got shot all in my side, abdomen, my elbows, my sides. When the gunfire stopped, I couldn't feel my legs."
Williams woke up two days later at Highland Hospital in Oakland, with his mother praying at his bedside.
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Hoping the judge overseeing Keak Da Sneak's case see's the harm caused by sending Keak Da Sneak to jail for attempting to protect himself. Check out our interview with Keak Da Sneak and Kafani where Keak discusses his condition, battling depression,and getting back into rap below!