Bryan Michael Cox 15th Annual Music & Memory Pre-Grammy Brunch

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Drake and Kanye West may appear to be on the outs since their albums Certified Lover Boy, and DONDA dropped a few weeks ago. One thing the two hip-hop artists can agree on, however, is securing freedom for Gangster Disciples co-founder Larry Hoover, Sr., and the men were recruited for their help by an unlikely person: Drake’s longtime mentor and Rap-A-Lot CEO J. Prince.

“IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN YOU PLAN TO FAIL,” Prince wrote in an IG post on Saturday, with a photo of him standing alongside Kanye, Larry, Jr. (Hoover’s son), and Winndye Jenkins (Hoover Sr.’s mother). Prince then shouted out the two rappers and continued, “Good plans in the making to free our brother Larry Hoover with the support of @champagnepapi and @kanyewest #TheArtandScienceOfRespect.” Ye reposted a slightly altered version of the pic on his own Instagram feed.

Seventy-year-old Larry Hoover, Sr. has been namechecked by numerous rappers, most memorably in Rick Ross’ 2010 hit single “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast).” He has been imprisoned since 1973 for ordering the kidnapping and execution of a 19-year-old drug dealer, and he is currently serving five life sentences at supermax facility ADX Florence in Colorado.

Hoover allegedly continued to run criminal activity throughout Chicago even while incarcerated and was convicted on a number of charges, including money laundering, conspiracy, extortion, and running a continuing criminal enterprise (commonly referred to as “The Kingpin Statute“).

In the early ’90s, though, Hoover reportedly turned his back on his criminal past and wanted to begin anew. The Gangsters Disciples began holding community events in the Windy City and protests for change. He said the organization’s initials now stood for “Growth & Development.” But a 1995 federal investigation determined Hoover was still conducting a $100-million illegal drug business from behind bars.

Hoover’s supporters claimed the government targeted him as an example and to stop any positive work he may have been doing for Chi-town. In 2018, Kanye West lobbied then-President Trump to commute Hoover’s sentence. Trump didn’t directly impact Hoover but opted to sign the First Step Act, an alternative that West pitched and which would allow prisoners to request reductions in their sentences per changes made since their incarceration.

Hoover’s situation still has people divided, though. “Larry should be free because of his age and by virtue of the law,” said Wallace Bradley to the Chicago Sun-Times last year. Also known by the name “Gator,” Bradley was also a former GD strongman and felt Hoover’s return to society is overdue. “Let him come home,” he said of his ex-boss.

By contrast, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Safer thinks applying the First Step Act to Hoover would be “miscarriage of justice… [he is an] extraordinarily talented and charismatic leader.” Safer was part of the legal team that prosecuted Hoover, and feels moving that “it would be a bad thing” if someone with Hoover’s influence used the law to avoid federal supervision and get back to Chicago again.