Culture Trips

US rapper Silentó charged with murder of his cousin | Music

Silentó, the US rapper who sparked a viral dance craze with global hit Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae), has been arrested and charged with the murder of his cousin.

The 23-year-old rapper, real name Richard Hawk, is charged with killing Frederick Rooks, 34, in the south-eastern suburbs of Atlanta. Rooks had been shot in the face and leg and was pronounced dead at the scene. Security footage showed several cars fleeing the area following the attack.

“After a thorough investigation, detectives identified Hawk as Rooks’ cousin, and the person responsible for Rooks’ murder,” the DeKalb County police department said in a statement. “Investigators are still working to uncover the motive for the shooting.” Hawk is being held at DeKalb County Jail.

Hawk’s sole hit as Silentó, Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae), was released in 2015, and reached No 3 in the US charts and No 19 in the UK. Powered by the popularity of its accompanying dance, its music video is the 83rd most viewed YouTube video of all time, with 1.79bn views.

He also had a minor hit guesting on Dessert by Dawin in 2015, but has not reached the US Top 100 since.

In August 2020, he was arrested and charged over an alleged domestic violence incident in Orange County, California, and later released. The following day he was arrested again, having allegedly entered a stranger’s home with an axe while searching for his girlfriend, according to Los Angeles police. He was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and later released on bail, though the bail was revoked after he failed to attend a court hearing the following month. His next court hearing was scheduled for March.

In October, he was recorded driving at 143mph on an Atlanta motorway, and claimed he was trying to avoid being followed after a nightclub appearance.

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