YNW Melly made headlines on Thursday (April 2) when his Instagram account confirmed that he had contracted coronavirus while behind bars inside Florida’s Broward County Jail. The rapper’s legal team has since filed an emergency motion for his restricted release to receive better care and treatment for his diagnosis amid the virus’ outbreak.
“I have filed a motion on behalf of Jamell Demons to have him released to a hospital for any treatment necessary for his diagnosis of COVID-19,” Melly’s attorney Bradford Cohen wrote. “It’s a scary situation for all inmates in the jails, as I believe most jails think they can handle this outbreak and my opinion is they cannot.”
Melly is currently awaiting trial on double-murder charges following the deaths of two of his “best friends” Christopher “Juvy” Thomas Jr. and Anthony “Sak” Williams in October 2018. He was arrested by law enforcement in Feb. 2019 and pleaded not guilty a month later.
If you’re unfamiliar with Melly, get to know him with the primer below.
Double murder case
Christopher “Juvy” Thomas Jr. and Anthony “Sak” Williams are both murdered in what Melly and YNW Bortlen described to investigators as a drive-by shooting after leaving a Florida studio in a Jeep Compass during the early hours of Oct. 26, 2018. Both Thomas and Williams are declared dead upon examination by emergency room doctors at the Miramar Memorial Hospital at approximately 4:35 a.m. ET after being dropped off by Melly and Bortlen.
The Miramar Police Department arrest both Jamell “YNW Melly” Demons and Cortlen “YNW Bortlen” Henry on Feb. 13 of 2019 and hit them with two first-degree murder charges for the deaths of Thomas Jr. and Williams. Based on the forensic evidence collected, law enforcement determines that Melly and Bortlen staged the crime scene to resemble a drive-by shooting and that Melly was the gunman behind both deaths. Melly pleads not guilty in March of 2019 and remains behind bars in Broward County Jail to this day awaiting trial.
Melly’s trouble with the law has plagued him since his teenage years. Back when he was just a freshman in high school, Melly shot a gun at a group of people near Vero Beach High School, but nobody was injured. He was ultimately charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of discharging a firearm in public.
He was also arrested on two other occasions. First, law enforcement got him on possession of marijuana, possession of weapon or ammunition by a convicted felon and drug paraphernalia charges in Fort Myers, Fla., on June 30 2018. Melly was again gobbled up by police just prior to the release of his We All Shine mixtape in January 2019 on possession of marijuana charges.
Worked with Kanye West
When YNW Melly first heard that Kanye West wanted to work with him in 2018, he didn’t believe it. After some tracking down on Ye’s part, Melly found himself locked in the studio with West. Yeezy would convince Melly to let him hop on “Mixed Personalities” because he related to the title’s messaging. The platinum-certified track would serve as a standout from Melly’s We All Shine project and peaked at No. 42 on the Hot 100.
Released one album, two mixtapes & an EP
In about two years as an artist, Melly has released a total of four projects. Mel kicked off his career with the Collect Call EP in late 2017, before releasing his debut mixtape, I Am You, during the summer of 2018, which included his breakout hit “Murder On My Mind.” He’s also released a pair of projects while behind bars in 2019, with his We All Shine mixtape at the top of the year and his Melly vs. Melvin debut album.
Breaks out with “Murder On My Mind”
The aforementioned “Murder On My Mind” originally surfaced on SoundCloud in 2017 and eventually received an official release under 300 Ent. in June 2018 on Melly’s I Am You tape. The sinister track continued to pick up steam and skyrocketed once Melly was eerily indicted on double murder charges in early 2019, as “Murder On My Mind” would crack the Hot 100‘s top 15.
“Suicide” remix with Juice WRLD is on the Hot 100
Even while he’s been locked up, Melly is still enjoying commercial success with his music. The YNW frontman notched the late Juice WRLD‘s third posthumous feature on the baleful “Suicide” remix, which currently sits at No. 35 on the Hot 100.
Chris Brown, Michael Jackson & Lil Wayne
Speaking to Billboard in early 2019, Melly credited Chris Brown, Michael Jackson, and Lil Wayne as his inspirations to start making music, which is quite the mix of musical greatness. The 20-year-old claims that he taught himself to sing by repeatedly listening to both MJ and C-Breezy.
What is YNW?
It’s a Young N—a World, and we’re just living in it. “We were all just young together. This was me and my guys. I was just the muscle in the beginning,” he told Billboard of forming the YNW crew. “I’m making everything happen, from the girls to the money. I got it all popping. Somebody in the clique was just high as hell and said something talking about a ‘Young N—a World.'”
Suspect in the shooting of an off-duty cop
A couple weeks after being arrested on double murder charges in 2019, authorities name YNW Melly and Bortlen as a suspects in the 2017 shooting and death of Indian River County Sheriff’s deputy Gary Chambliss. VeroNews sources cite law enforcement’s belief that Melly and Bortlen were in a group of people firing weapons that resulted in a stray bullet killing Chambliss, who was off duty at the time.