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Photos courtesy U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

It has been a tough month for drill rappers.

First rising star and 18-year-old drill rapper Jayquan McKenley, aka Chii Wvttz, was gunned down in his parked car in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Feb. 6, while leaving an Airbnb.

On the heels of that tragedy, New York City Mayor Eric Adams urged social media firms to ban the artform’s videos from their platforms. Drill rap often refers to killing or doing a hit and Adams said the clips glorify and promote violence.

Adams eventually changed his tune following a meeting with several prominent drill rappers on Tuesday and clarified that he did not want to ban drill rap but promised he would have something coming in alignment with the artists to help.

“I don’t know if you saw the picture, but for the first time in my life, I looked cool, hanging out with all of them – and it was very interesting,” said Adams of the meeting in City Hall.

“Because, I don’t know who said it, but they said, ‘We heard you said you were going to ban drill rapping.' I did not say that. I was very clear in what I stated."

He added, “We’re going to roll out something together.”

One of the genre’s most established cliques is facing massive amounts of prison time over a scam the government alleges defrauded it of $4.3 million by submitting false claims for unemployment insurance and attempting to use over 800 stolen identities to try and get another $20 million.

In all, 11 members and associates of the Brooklyn-based Woo gang have been charged with the multi-million-dollar COVID-19 unemployment insurance fraud. Their penchant for making and distributing drill music played a significant part in their downfall.

Last year a video named “Trappin’” was uploaded to YouTube. The lyrics — with verses like “It was me and Porter, we was huggin’ the block. Unemployment got us workin’ a lot." — include details of the scheme, which ran from the beginning of the pandemic until October of 2021, according to prosecutors and it features five of the 11 gang members and associates charged this week.

“As alleged, the defendants conspired to steal millions of dollars in pandemic-related unemployment assistance and then brazenly flaunted the proceeds of their crimes on social media,” Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

“These government programs are designed to provide financial assistance to those who are most in need during an unprecedented pandemic. This Office and its law enforcement partners will vigorously prosecute gang members and anyone else who exploits the pandemic and steals from taxpayer-funded programs."

The arrests came just hours before the body of alleged Woo member and rising rap star TDott Woo was scheduled to be borne in a white horse-drawn carriage past his Brooklyn home. The rapper was shot to death outside his residence on Feb. 1, the day he signed a potentially lucrative recording contract with Million Dollar Music.

This is far from the first brush with tragedy for the alleged gang or its members.

Pop Smoke, a Brooklyn-born rapper affiliated with Woo who popularized it, was shot and killed by masked gunmen during a home invasion at a Hollywood Hills mansion. His posthumous hit single, “The Woo,” was released that July.

Below is a full list of the defendants:

Age: 23
Los Angeles, California

Age: 21
Miami, Florida

Age: 20
Brooklyn, New York

Age: 21
Brooklyn, New York

Age: 22
Brooklyn, New York

Age: 20
Brooklyn, New York

Age: 20
Brooklyn, New York

Age: 22
Brooklyn, New York

Age: 21
Brooklyn, New York

Age: 20
Brooklyn, New York

Age: 21
Brooklyn, New York

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