Spotify Releases “The Story of YNW Melly”

The Spotify original podcast “Infamous” has featured the stories of several controversial rappers. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The Spotify original podcast “Infamous” has featured the stories of several controversial rappers. (Courtesy of Twitter)

In September, a new edition of the Spotify original podcast “Infamous” was released. This year, Florida rapper Ace Hood told the story of YNW Melly, whose popularity exploded and was then cut short after he was arrested in 2019. Over the last two years, the podcast aired seasons discussing the complex lives of notoriously problematic rappers such as Tekashi 6ix9ine and Pop Smoke. In just eight episodes, Ace Hood brings to light different issues in Melly’s life, such as abuse, mental health struggles and the events leading up to the fatal shooting of his friends that tore his life apart. 

The first episode of the podcast begins with a small snippet of Melly’s biggest hit so far: “Murder On My Mind.” The song’s lyrics describe how a shooting nearby his high school caused by Melly affected his life and how killing someone changed him mentally. This was before he was in the rap group YNW formed by him and his friends, YNW Sakchaser (Sak), YNW Bortlen and YNW Juvy. The rest of the episode talks about the police report that identified Melly as the prime suspect in the murder of his friends. The episode details how one YNW member drove two others to the hospital, claiming they were killed in a drive-by shooting, and how the police began to inspect the suspicious crime scene. 

As a way to captivate the audience, Ace Hood also mentions in the first episode that he himself is from the same neighborhood as Melly. It was a perfect way to describe the neighborhood they lived in and how it affected their lives, as well as providing evidence as to why the “drive-by” claim was so suspicious. In fact, the street that Melly claims was the scene of the shooting is instantly refuted by Hood stating the neighborhood was safe, “practically a gated community.” 

The second episode discussed Melly’s personal life and childhood. As a kid, he grew up in a divided home, with his parents living in separate spaces. When he was young, his uncle let him play with a toy gun, which fueled an “obsession” (according to Melly) with firearms and weapons, foreshadowing the school shooting he wrote his biggest hit about. His mother married another man who had run-ins with the law on several occasions and physically abused Melly. When Melly was a teenager, he wrote many songs about this. He was sent to a mental health treatment facility multiple times before the age of 18 and claims to have a split personality disorder as well as Dissociative Identity Disorder. He was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder and ADHD. It almost makes you sympathize with him: A kid who was raised in a broken home, beaten by his stepfather and suffered from mental health issues before becoming an adult would make anyone sympathetic. 

The third episode is where everything begins to take a turn. Ace Hood begins to take a deeper look into Melly’s most famous song, “Murder On My Mind.” Even when Melly was in jail, the song became a sensation. After he was released from jail, he went on tour, and every time he sang “Murder On My Mind” the crowd went crazy. Even though the song wasn’t about the murders of Sak and Juvy, the popularization of it made people believe that Melly did in fact murder them. This specific episode looks into Melly’s split personality disorder and the two personalities that he claims control him the most: Melvin and Melly. 

Episode four discusses Melly’s fame and how it affected him. As his fame grew, his success started to have a negative effect on his community. Tensions between Melly’s mother, Jamie and Sak began to bubble, as well as within the group itself. Sak began to groom Melly for international fame and success, preparing him for how famous he was going to be. His mother wanted him to be independent from the group. The tensions between the two began to take a toll on YNW until it all came crumbling down.

Episode five analyzes the murders of Sak and Juvy and the four months between when the crime was reported and when Melly turned himself in. In the midst of all the suspicion, Melly collaborated with Kanye to release a song called “Mixed Personalities” and began a world tour starting in New York. Then, in February of 2019, he turned himself in for the murders of Sak and Juvy. Episodes six and seven review conspiracy theories regarding the murders of the two rappers and what could have actually happened. Episode eight talks about the effect the murders had on Melly’s hometown in Florida, how they mourned Sak and Juvy and how the town was split between defending and hating Melly. 

With each episode building up suspense, the podcast “Infamous” is a great way to learn something new about an internet sensation. I, like most people, have heard his music on the radio, on TikTok or just being played by cars driving by. And of course, I knew about the shooting, why Melly was in jail for the last two years and why he stopped making music until now. As he just released a new album after two years of being in prison, it’s interesting to hear about everything in his life that happened beforehand.