Lyrics can be criminal, if you live in Turkey.
While its understandable if you'd never heard of Ezhel before, he's a massive name in his home country of Turkey. His videos have amassed millions of views, and he released his debut album, Müptezhel, last June. He was scheduled to perform with Wiz Khalifa next month, but his entire life has been sidetracked, thanks to the contents of his lyrics.
According to the Independent, Ezhel was arrested on May 24th following a visit to the hospital. His arrest wasn't because of anything violent, but instead he was brought in on charges of "promoting drug use" through his lyrics. If that was a crime in the U.S., a whole lot of rappers would find themselves in serious trouble.
Many of his fans responded with anger and confusion over his arrest, wondering why the police were wasting precious resources detaining a musician instead of going after actual criminals. A hashtag, #FreeEzhel sprung up over night and was among the most shared topics in Turkey.
Ezhel's manager Riza Okcu said, "FreeEzhel, writing a song cannot be a crime - the government should arrest the real criminals. Rap music tells the truth about what happens in the streets."
Turkey isn't the only place that's cracking down on what they perceive to be negative influences in rap music. China recently banned hip-hop culture and tattoos from appearing on television, and the U.K. has started a dystopian offensive against their local drill scene.
Turkish law dictates that a charge of "promoting drug use" can carry between five and ten years in prison.