West’s advocacy started somewhere in 2018 as part of a wider conversation on criminal justice reforms in the United States.
The rapper, and particularly his wife Kim Kardashian, have had some success convincing power to tamper justice with mercy for some individuals.
But West’s clemency campaign on behalf of Hoover would have to convince even the most pro-reform in establishment that freeing the convict is worth it.
Hoover was first convicted in 1973 for the murder of 19-year-old William Young. Hoover stood accused along with Andrew Howard, a fellow gang member.
They were sentenced to serve 150-200 years in jail, which was a total of six life sentences. Hoover was incarcerated at the Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois.
This was a predictable culmination of Hoover’s life that had been lived making ends meet by the way of guns and gangs.
He was born in Mississipi in 1950 but grew up in Chicago after his family moved north when he was just a toddler. By 13, Hoover was on the streets with the Supreme Gangsters.
In his later teens, Hoover was instrumental in the Gangsters joining forces with another group headed by David Barksdale. Together, this new gang was called the Black Gangster Disciple Nation, or Gangster Disciples for short.
By the time he turned 20, Hoover was reportedly head of the Gangster Disciples and overseeing daily profits of about $1,000.
Before he and Howard would be convicted in 1973, Hoover had been in an out of jail several times for different offenses.
At Stateville, Hoover’s reputation earned him the respect of the other prisoners and it is known that the prison’s authorities at times depended on him to calm down disturbances.
For more than 10 years, Hoover spun the goodwill he was getting into a PR success. He started speaking out against crime and even changed the initials GD (Gangster Disciples) to Growth and Development.
The new GD said they would invest in the lives of needy black kids and take them off the streets. Leadership seminars, as well as legitimate business ventures, were undertaken in the spirit of the renewal of Hoover’s mind.
But prison officials had always suspected that Hoover was using “good works” as a front for illegalities and worse, had been running his gang from inside prison.
What was a 17-year investigation was finally prosecuted in 1997. Hoover was sentenced according to new charges of extortion, money laundering, conspiracy and running an illegal enterprise.
Now, Hoover is looking at spending the next 285 years of his life behind bars.
It has been held as an endemic problem for hip hop that a lot of the times, the music tends to whitewash the worst among the evil elements of human society.
Hoover has been hailed in a number of songs including B.M.F., the hit by Rick Ross.
The innuendos and the allusions are put together as anti-establishment rhetoric. And for a culture that was borne out of the artistic expression of disenfranchised people, hip hop can often fetishize those the rappers feel have been set up by “the system”.
We do not know if that is where Kanye West is coming from. But knowing what we do know about Hoover, West has a long way to go.