Bay Area rapper Kafani in an interview Kafani interviewed on The No Jumper Show.

Kafani, the Oakland rapper who helped pioneer the Hyphy movement, has been sentenced to seven years and three months in prison for his role in a multimillion-dollar identity theft ring, court records show.

U.S. District Judge James Donato painted the rapper as a ringleader. He sentenced the 42-year-old Kafani, who also goes by Mark Hicks but whose real name is Amir Rashad, after he pled guilty.

Rashad’s attorney, Edwin Prather, contended that his client was nothing more than a participant in the scheme.

“Because Mark Hicks is paralyzed from the chest down and is in a wheelchair, he is homebound and relies on others for everything. While Mark Hicks did use the internet to obtain personal information on individuals, obtain credit reports on those individuals, and call banks and vendors pretending to be some of those individuals, Mark Hicks did not ever leave his bedroom to carry out the actions of the conspiracy,” Prather wrote in court records. “Co-conspirators completed the conspiracy without Mark Hicks.”

As part of the plea agreement, Rashad admitted to directing “a team of criminals who stole approximately $2 from banks and lending institutions.” Prosecutors allege the ringleaders recruited homeless people and offered them “tiny percentages of the proceeds” to pose as identify theft victims so that loan applications were accepted.

Rashad’s rap career started in the ’90s. He didn’t rise to prominence, however, until the early 2000s with his hit “Fast (Like a Nascar).” He was shot in 2013 and paralyzed. He uses a wheelchair to this day.

[Santa Rosa Press Democrat; photo from a Kafani interview on The No Jumper Show in 2021]