Atlanta rapper Silento burst into the music scene in 2015, when his “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” hit the top five on the Billboard Hot 100, and led to a viral dance craze that was inescapable at its peak.
“Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100 songs chart dated July 17, 2015. It spent 51 weeks on the chart.
Since then, the rapper (real name: Ricky Hawk) has faced a string of legal issues, and was most recently charged with the murder of his cousin.
We’ve compiled a timeline of the 23-year-old’s brushes with the law. See them below.
February 2017 – Held in United Arab Emirates
Silento was stopped from leaving the country over a business dispute. A court ruling issued against him in the city of Al Ain ordered the then-19-year-old Atlanta artist to pay a local promoter 300,000 dirhams ($81,500) after he did not perform two scheduled shows in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi.
The judgment placed a travel ban on the rapper and ordered him to surrender his passport to the court until the case was settled.
Silento later acknowledged the situation at the end of a show in a Dubai nightclub. “I can’t even leave the UAE but I’m still in the club,” he said, according to a video posted by The National, a government-owned daily in Abu Dhabi.
August 2020 – Arrested for alleged assault and domestic violence
The Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s records and NBC noted that Silento was taken into custody after walking into a random home in the Valley Village neighborhood of Los Angeles looking for his girlfriend while holding a hatchet.
A day prior, he was arrested in Santa Ana and taken to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department following a report of a domestic disturbance. He was released from custody on a charge of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant.
October 2020 – Speeding charges
Silento was arrested and accused of driving 143 m.p.h. (230 kph) on Interstate 85 in Georgia, authorities said at the time. He was charged with reckless driving, speeding, failure to maintain lane and improper stopping.
A DeKalb police report said he was pulled over around 3 a.m. after an officer saw the rapper’s white BMW swerving around slower cars. Silento reportedly argued with the officer about how fast he was going and insisted that he’d done nothing wrong.
He later told the officer he was speeding because he normally gets followed when leaving events, as he was at a club promoting his new song. The artist reportedly said that he could go 143 m.p.h. because he’s not “a regular person.”
February 2021 – Murder arrest
“Today, Ricky Hawk, 23, was arrested for the murder of his cousin Frederick Rooks, 34,” Georgia’s DeKalb County Police Department tweeted on Feb. 1. “On January 21, the DeKalb County Police Department investigated Rooks’ death after he was found shot on Deep Shoals Circle. Hawk is in the DeKalb County Jail charged with Murder.”
On Jan. 21, police responded to a 3:30 a.m. shots-fired call and found Rooks dead at the scene with multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.