In new docu series, Jay Z remembers Kalief Browder as ‘prophet’
In his executive-produced documentary on Kalief Browder, Jay Z recalled his encounter with the 22-year-old who, at 16, spent three years in prison without a conviction.
“Kalief moved so many people. I just felt compelled to meet with him,” the hip-hop mogul said of his decision to reach out to Browder after his story made national headlines.
“I believe our prophets come in many shapes or forms. Sometimes our prophets come in the form of young undeveloped energy that will teach all us grownups how to love better and have more compassion.
“Kalief Browder was a prophet.”
Jay Z appears alongside multiple subjects in TIME’s six-part docu series The Kalief Browder Story, which premiered Wednesday night. The project details Browder’s prison tale, which begins in 2010 when the then teen was arrested while walking home and charged with second degree robbery, after being accused of stealing a backpack.
Kalief, who refused to take a plea deal for a crime he said he did not commit, was unable to post his $3,000 bail and subsequently spent the next three years at New York City’s notoriously violent and gang-infested Rikers Island jail. While behind bars, Kalief allegedly endured beatings by prison guards and other inmates, and was held in solitary confinement for most of his holding.
Browder’s case was largely referenced by former President Barack Obama in an op-ed announcing his banning of solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons.
Though his case was eventually dismissed in 2013, Browder’s mental condition began to deteriorate and he later committed suicide by hanging himself in 2015.