The news that A$AP Rocky would avoid any further jail time in Sweden despite being convicted on Wednesday for assault was largely greeted with happiness from the rapper’s legion of fans. But after Rocky appeared to receive assistance from some high-profile figures trying to secure his release, a growing segment of users on social media were questioning whether Rocky had changed his previous opinion dismissing social justice activism.
The 30-year-old Harlemite “was handed a conditional sentence after the court found that the assault was not ‘of such a serious nature’ as to warrant more time behind bars,” NBC News wrote about Wednesday’s verdict in Stockholm, the country’s capital city where the assault took place. Rocky was facing up to six months behind bars prior to the verdict being announced.
While Swedish leaders warned that the interventions of President Donald Trump as well as civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton would not affect the outcome of the case, it could be argued that without their involvement, Rocky’s release, let alone the nature of his conviction, may not have materialized the way it did.
Rocky’s social media accounts have been quiet since his arrest early last month and he did not release a public statement after he was released from the jail in Sweden last week. So it was unclear how he felt about 1) being released in the first place before a verdict was handed down and 2) whether social justice played a role in his release and ability to avoid further jail time.
That wasn’t the case three years ago when Rocky made his feelings about social justice activism very clear without any confusion about his stance. During a 2016 interview with “The Breakfast Club” radio show, Rocky decidedly distanced himself from social justice issues and the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole.
“So every time something happens because I’m Black I gotta stand up? What the fuck am I, Al Sharpton now?” he asked at the time, invoking the name of the man his own mother would ultimately appeal to for help after the rapper was jailed in Sweden. “I’m A$AP Rocky. I did not sign up to be no political activist,” Rocky said at the time. “I don’t wanna talk about no fucking Ferguson and shit because I don’t live over there! I live in fucking Soho and Beverly Hills. I can’t relate. I’m in the studio; I’m in these fashion studios; I’m in these bitches’ drawers. I’m not doing anything outside of that. That’s my life.”
The context of that single quote — “I can’t relate” — was being repeated across social media after the verdict was announced Wednesday, with people equating those three words to how much they thought he cared about Black people in general.
Rocky was 27 years old at the time of those comments, so, theoretically, his experience being locked up abroad coupled with social justice activists rallying for his release back home in the U.S. has opened his eyes to aspects of Black life he may have been blind to before.
But if not, all he has to do is scroll down his Twitter timeline to find a question many people want to know the answer to: whether Rocky can “relate” to social justice activism now.