Known for his boastful lyrics, catchy hooks and accounts of life in inner-city Baltimore, Sandtown hip-hop artist YGG Tay has made a name for himself as one of the city’s best rappers.
The rapper’s name has also come up in a federal racketeering trial for eight men accused of running a violent West Baltimore gang known as “Trained To Go” — though he hasn’t been charged with a crime, and denies any connection to the case.
YGG Tay has put out several mixtapes, produced music videos that have garnered millions of views on YouTube, and caught the attention of major music publications like Fader and Vice’s Noisey. He was also named one of The Baltimore Sun’s “10 Baltimore Musicians on the Rise” in 2017.
YGG Tay’s career and rap style reached a new level with his 2017 mixtape "Rich Before 2” represented Harrison reaching a new level in his rap style and career. A single from the mixtape, "Fresh Out of Retirement," has 1.1 million views on YouTube.
As Sun music critic wrote in 2017, “On highlights like “Lit Up” and “Trappin,” the MC — born Davante Harrison — shows his penchant for instantly hummable choruses — a skill Tay believes will lead to stardom.”
But YGG Tay’s budding career has not been without controversy.
A federal prosecutor and an FBI agent told a judge that Harrison, 23, had offered $20,000 for the murder of a police informant who was fatally shot last June.
The informant, Guy Coffey, 28, was supplying information on alleged hit men and heroin dealers part of accused of being part of the “Trained To Go” street gang.
Coffey was a key witness for a federal trial for eight men accused of running the violent gang began that began this week in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
YGG Tay told The Baltimore Sun he was blindsided by the accusations.
“That is completely false,” he said Tuesday. “I’ve never even seen this guy before. I’ve never had a conversation about this guy. I don’t know how I’m connected to this guy. They have no evidence, so they shouldn’t be saying that to no judge.”
“They’re going off something they heard on the street? Come on,” he said. “That just makes it even worse. … I don’t want people out there thinking I’m into this stuff. They’re trying to damage my name. I got record labels trying to sign me.”
Harrison’s rap crew “Young Go Getters,” which accounts for the “YGG” in his name, has also allegedly feuded with at least one other rap crew in the community in the past.
According to prosecutors in an attempted murder case in 2016, entertainment group “YBS”, or “Young Ballers Shining” — to which the late rapper Lor Scoota belonged — allegedly had conflict with YGG.
Prosecutors labeled the groups as competing “criminal organizations,” stating that Scoota’s friend Fred Catchings was "engaged in pre-emptive strikes" against YGG on behalf of YBS. But members of both groups, including Harrison, said those claims were false, and a smear.
“Who the hell made this up?” Harrison said in 2017.
Though a recorded fight between Harrison and Scoota in January 2016, generating thousands of views on YouTube, Harrison later told the Baltimore Sun that the fight was squashed almost immediately. The next month, he recorded a song with YBS member Dajuan "YBS Skola" Cannady titled "Go Getters and Shiners," which was intended to be an anthem to bring the groups together.
Baltimore Sun reporters Tim Prudente, Justin Fenton and Wesley Case contributed to this article.