Rapper Without Criminal Record Faces Life Sentence for Song Lyrics

Brandon Duncan, also known by his stage name Tiny Doo, has no criminal record, but he could face life in jail for the unprecedented crime of cutting a rap album.

Duncan, a 33-year-old aspiring rapper known for working with Lil Wayne, was among 15 suspects arrested in connection with a string of gang-related shootings in San Diego.

Unlike the other suspects, Duncan is not accused of providing guns or participating in the nine Lincoln Park shootings the others are charged for. Instead, Duncan is accused of promoting such gang violence with his latest album “No Safety,” which sports a loaded gun on the album cover and lyrics referencing gang life.


According to the LA Times, prosecutors say Duncan matches the legal description of a gang member as someone who “willfully promotes, furthers, or assists in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang.” Police say that Duncan is a documented gang member, going by the moniker of TD. Duncan was once charged with pimping and pandering in 2008, charges that were later dismissed.

Brian Watkins, Duncan’s attorney, argues that the charges against his client are unconstitutional and a waste of taxpayer funds. The evidence against Duncan is only his album and several social media pictures of him posing with the other defendants, which Watkins argues is inevitable since Duncan grew up in a San Diego neighborhood affected by gang violence.

Watkins also argued that Duncan’s album doesn’t glorify gang violence.

“It’s no different than Snoop Dogg or Tupac,” he said. “It’s telling the story of street life.”

“If we are trying to criminalize artistic expression, what’s next, Brian De Palma and Al Pacino?” Duncan said, in reference to the 1983 film Scarface, beloved by many gang members.

Although Duncan made similar arguments in the San Diego County Superior Court, a judge ruled that Duncan would stand trial with the other defendants. Trial is set to begin Dec. 4, and Duncan remains in jail on $1 million bail. If convicted, he could face 25 years to life in prison.