Afroman speaks out about being chased by officers who raided his home: NPR
Johnny Louis/Getty Images
After Ohio police raided Afroman’s home last August, the rapper — known for early hits including “Because I Got High” and “Crazy Rap (Colt 45 and 2 Zig-Zags)” — decided to do something about it.
Law enforcement had searched his home on suspicion of drug trafficking and kidnapping, but found no evidence and filed no charges against him. He says they broke down his door, broke his CCTV system, stole money from him and scared his family.
Afroman, real name Joseph Foreman, told NPR in a phone interview that what he did next was his “smartest, most peaceful solution.”
“I wondered, as a helpless black man in America, what can I do about the cops who kicked down my door, tried to kill me in front of my kids, stole my money and disconnected my cameras?” he says. “And the only thing I could come up with was to do a fun rap song about them and make some money, use that money to pay for the damage they caused, and move on.”
He released an album with songs about the raid and made video clips from the surveillance footage. He created articles and social media posts calling out the officers involved.
Now some of them are suing him, his record label and a Texas-based music distribution company for invasion of privacy.
Four deputies, two sergeants and a detective from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office accuse the rapper of profiting from the unauthorized use of their likenesses, at their personal and professional expense.
In a complaint filed in a Court of Pleas in Ohio last week, they say it has been made more difficult and dangerous to carry out their duties “due to comments made and attitudes expressed about them by members of the public” who have seen the videos.
They say they received death threats, and also suffered “humiliation, ridicule, mental distress, embarrassment and loss of reputation”.
The plaintiffs seek all profits to Afroman from the use of their personalities – including proceeds from the songs, videos and live events, as well as Afroman-branded merchandise such as beer, marijuana and t-shirts – as well as a court injunction to remove the music videos and social media posts.
“Unless Defendants are successful, Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm to their reputations, mental health, and legally protected rights as Defendants continue to willfully and maliciously violate those rights,” they wrote.
The plaintiff’s attorney and the sheriff’s office have yet to respond to NPR’s requests for comment.
Afroman says his immediate reaction to the trial was “a blob of anger, disbelief and a bit of anxiety, followed by tons of laughter.”
“I was thinking, these big bad cops… get beat up and bullied by these cheesy little rap songs I made about them,” Afroman says. “I’m like, ‘Oh my god, are you letting me know that my raps are working on you?'”
He says he was already pursuing a defamation suit against the police, and they made that process easier because now his legal team just has to fight back, which they plan to do soon.
“I want to sue them for stealing my money, I want to sue them for writing ‘kidnapping’ on a warrant and causing me financial pain in my industry, because this accusation raises eyebrows about you” , he adds.
The police searched the house with weapons in their hands
officers obtained a warrant to search Afroman’s home on August 21, 2022, according to the complaint.
A copy of the mandateobtained by Cincinnati FOX affiliate WXIX-TV alleged there were drugs, drug paraphernalia, cash and weapons associated with drug trafficking and kidnappings.
Afroman told NPR he had no idea where the kidnapping charge came from and that he had nothing more in his house than the ends of a few dulls and unused pipes made for him by fans.
In his Wednesday post, he accused a “racist judge” of signing a “fictitious fake warrant”.
Afroman was out of town the day of the raid. But his ex-wife and children, then aged 10 and 12, live nearby and came when they saw the police presence. She recorded parts of the raid on her phone, while other scenes were captured by security video cameras around the house.
No charges came from the search, but that was not the end of the story.
Afroman says he had to repair his door, an exterior gate and his security system wiring, which cost him nearly $20,000.
He also accuses the police of stealing it. Officers had confiscated more than $5,000 in cash during the raid, which Afroman said was performance income.
It was eventually returned to him, but with $400 missing. Last month, an inquiry concluded that MPs miscounted the original amount – a claim Afroman continues to dispute.
“They became thieves and stole my money,” he wrote on Instagram. “After they stole my money they became criminals. After they became criminals they lost their right to privacy.”
“Lemon Pound Cake” came as a form of revenge
Afroman released an album titled Four Quarts In Lemon just a month later. Two of his songs reference the raid and include personal footage in their music videos.
One of those songs is the title track, inspired by a moment in the raid in which an officer, walking through the kitchen with his gun drawn, interrupted his concentration to look at a cake platter on the counter.
He tells the story to the tune of “Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters.
“Mom’s lemon pound cake, it’s so good it made the sheriff want to put his gun down and cut her a slice,” Afroman sings at one point, before comparing the officer to family guyis Peter Griffin.
Afroman’s online store offers sweatshirts (currently sold out) and t-shirts showing Griffin and a large lemon cake, surrounded by black and white images of the officer from the video, with the names Afroman and “Officer Pound Cake”.
Another issue’s video, titled “Will you help me fix my door”, is a montage of clips from the raid.
It shows officers standing outside his house and breaking down his door, as well as rummaging through his closet, turning over his collection of CDs and flipping through a wad of cash.
“Did you find what you were looking for? he sings. “Will you help me fix my gate and door?”
Afroman has also created dozens of videos and images of the officers’ characters and posted them to social media sites including YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok.
The lawsuit points to several of those posts, many of which have since been deleted. According to the descriptions in the complaint, many of them promote the Four Quarts In Lemon album and merchandising.
They also disparage the judge and officers involved in the raid: comparing an officer to Quasimodo (the Hunchback of Notre Dame) and the judge to the cartoon character Droopy, accusing the cops of theft and calling them “KKKops” of ” Adams”. KKCounty.”
He says he had no intention of making a hate album; he just wanted to laugh about it. It gave him a sense of victory, he adds.
“I make fun of them, I make songs about them, it’s more powerful than their authority,” he says. “It’s more powerful than their assault rifles, it’s more powerful than what they have because I’ve made these tough big bad guys cry and complain about my songs, on my page, in my world.”
Afroman says the response from fans and venues has been positive.
“My biggest fear was that this would all be a big deal for me but not for my fans – my fans were like, ‘So what, you got robbed man, shut up and sing ‘Cause I got high ” “, he said.
In fact, he says it only led to more exposure and opportunity. Afroman says he’s been getting calls from people he hasn’t heard from in years – or at least for a few months when the raid took place.
“These guys make me a bigger star once again,” he says of the police. “I don’t want to pay these guys anything, but in the worst case scenario, if I had to pay them, because of the publicity and fame they gave me, it might just be fair to mix them some pieces.”
He’s thinking of working on another album, with a name like Lemon pound cake part 2. Most albums have 7-10 songs, he says, so he would write one about each officer “and see how much I could humiliate them.”
Afroman says that by making merchandise and making jokes, he turned a bad thing into a good thing. And he hopes others can apply that lesson in their own lives.
“I just want people to do the best they can,” he adds. “I want to see people looking at me and saying what a sport, what a good peaceful positive gesture to do in such bad circumstances.”