By Paul de Revere
There’s the old saying: “You are the company you keep.” It’s a bit of oversimplified pop philosophy sourced and adapted from the New Testament. In the case of Justin Bieber and his recent troubles — drunk driving, drag-racing, resisting arrest and driving with an expired license charges — in Miami Beach, maybe the inverse is true. R&B singer Khalil was arrested alongside Bieber for a suspected DUI.
All eyes on Bieber, and by extension the company he keeps, isn’t anything new. He’s one of the biggest pop stars of the last five years, and his posse is known among Beliebers, particularly on social media. But with today’s arrest and last week’s drug raid at chez Biebs, media attention on Bieber’s crew has taken on a witch-hunt vibe. While Bieber was admonished for egging a neighbor’s house, the search warrant that resulted from such juvenile hi-jinks resulted in a coke possession arrest for Bieber’s alleged housemate, rapper Lil Za.
This sort of thing isn’t relegated to just the last week, though. There’s Lil Za’s brother, Lil Twist, who was arrested for a DUI while driving one of Bieber’s cars last July.
Others, too, have taken non-criminal falls for Bieber publicly, like Odd Future leader Tyler, the Creator. Almost tragically, Khalil and Lil Za have only become recently newsworthy names because of alleged Bieber foolishness, while Twist and Tyler have been known entities in the hip-hop world for a minute.
Many have asked why in regard to Bieber’s outrageous behavior. But there’s a not-insignificant, less-asked question about these recent troubles: Why do these young, significantly less famous black artists — Khalil, Lil Za and Lil Twist — keep getting jailed up in Bieber’s wake? Is it the company Bieber keeps? Or is it the company they keep? And just who are these guys, anyway?
Here’s some insight into this close posse of artists, both independently and in the context of the Bieberverse.
Real name/age: Khalil Amir Sharieff, 19 Who is he? Per his Island/Def Jam bio, Sharieff was born in California and moved to North Carolina as a teenager. Like Bieber, he was a YouTube discovery brought to Atlanta to record under the auspices of star-making producer L.A. Reid. Sharieff was signed by Island/Def Jam in 2008, but broke ties with the label as recently as 2011 or 2012.
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