Notorious south Sacramento rapper Lavish D sentenced to six years—and it was the lyrics, not the crime, that did him in. The 30-year-old never threw a punch. He didn’t fire a bullet. Yet he caught more time than those who did.
The music career of Donald “Lavish D” Oliver was rocked by a different kind of beat on June 26—the kind a gavel makes when it punctuates a six-year prison sentence.
That’s how long the rapper will disappear for after pleading no contest to gun and assault crimes that were said to benefit the reputation of the Starz, a notorious street gang that germinated in a local housing project in the late 1990s.
In prosecuting Oliver and his co-defendants, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office consolidated two cases: In the first, Oliver was a passenger in a car where police found a handgun in November 2013. In the second, less than four months later, Oliver filmed the assault of a gang member inside of a mall and uploaded the video to social media, where he’d also posted dozens of his rap videos.
Prosecutors used these music videos, portraying groups of young black men and chronicling tales of street violence, to identify members of the gang and characterize Oliver as their leader. Videos like “King of the City” and “My Niggas Do,” where a boastful Lavish ridicules his enemies and refers to his “boss status.”
“That was a bad video for us,” acknowledged Isaac W. Choy Jr., the defense attorney who represented Oliver during his sentencing phase. If the matter had gone to trial, Choy said he would have tried to prevent the videos from being introduced into evidence. “Whether we would have been successful or not, I don’t know,” he said.