The ballad of Brooklyn-bred rapper Bobby Shmurda is a surreal tale of meteoric rise turned upside-down, nearly as fast as it started. One smash-mouth hit, one viral dance craze, and a newly-inked record deal were all whipped away by a prison sentence for drug and gun charges.
That alone is wild enough for its own full-length GQ feature. But Wednesday, the tale took a wild turn, with the revelation that Palantir, a big data software giant co-founded by Silicon Valley villain Peter Thiel, essentially paved the way to put Shmurda behind bars, according to a feature Buzzfeed published Wednesday.
The piece wasn’t about Shumrda specifically, but about the budding war between the NYPD and Silicon Valley. Hidden in that piece was this fascinating nugget:
The NYPD has been a Palantir customer since at least 2012, and Palantir has touted the relationship to help it drum up other business. The software ingests arrest records, license plate reads, parking tickets, and more, and then graphs this data in a way that can reveal connections among crimes and people. In late 2014, for example, the police department used Palantir’s analysis to plan a sting that landed the rapper Bobby Shmurda behind bars, just as his career was taking off, according to an internal Palantir email seen by BuzzFeed News.
That’s right, that means the wings of Shumurda’s massively soaring career were clipped by none other than Silicon Valley itself.
A little necessary context here: Shmurda came out of nowhere back in 2014, riding the success of his viral Shmoney Dance off the video for his single “Hot N*gga” (which peaked at No. 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100) to a record deal with Epic Records. He was one of the hottest rising stars in music at that point, but everything quickly changed when he was arrested along with 14 others in a Manhattan recording studio. In October 2016, he was sentenced to seven years in prison.
If Palantir can stack up the evidence for a sting to put Shmurda behind bars, maybe it can also help him find his hat.