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Why Did Lil Tjay Go to Prison?

Lil Tjay, born Tione Merritt, is an American rapper from the Bronx, New York. The 21-year-old rising star landed himself in prison in June 2022 on attempted murder and weapons charges. His arrest and incarceration came as a shock to fans who had been following his successful career in the rap game. In this article, we will explore the details around Lil Tjay’s criminal charges and what led to his imprisonment.

Background on Lil Tjay

Lil Tjay burst onto the rap scene in 2018 when he released his debut mixtape “Resume.” The mixtape featured his breakthrough hit single “Brothers” which showcased his melodic style and earned him attention from record labels. Over the next few years, Lil Tjay dropped a number of successful projects including his debut studio album “True 2 Myself” which peaked at number 5 on the Billboard 200 chart.

By early 2022, Lil Tjay had established himself as one of the most promising young rappers on the scene. He had over 7 million monthly listeners on Spotify and had collaborated with major artists like 6ix9ine, Polo G and Fivio Foreign. His unique lyrical style combining rapping and singing had made him a fan favorite. Everything seemed to be going well in his career before his sudden incarceration.

The Shooting Incident

On June 22, 2022, Lil Tjay was shot multiple times during an attempted robbery in Edgewater, New Jersey. He underwent emergency surgery for his injuries. Two other men were also shot during the incident.

Police arrested 27-year-old Mohamed Konate soon after the shooting and charged him with three counts of attempted murder, armed robbery and weapons offenses. The two other gunshot victims had also been involved in the attempted robbery.

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According to reports, Lil Tjay had gone to Edgewater to purchase some cannabis. The robbers targeted his friend Jeffrey Valdez, who had a significant amount of cash on him from his food business. When Valdez tried to flee, a shootout ensued leaving Lil Tjay and the two robbers with multiple gunshot wounds.

Lil Tjay Faces Criminal Charges

Even though Lil Tjay was the victim of the robbery, he was not entirely innocent in the situation. The prosecutor’s office in Bergen County, New Jersey hit the rapper with criminal charges because he was allegedly in possession of an unlawful handgun.

New Jersey has strict gun laws. Lil Tjay, who does not have a firearms license, was charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison for the offense.

The attempted murder charges were pinned on Mohamed Konate and the two other robbers. But Lil Tjay still faced weapons charges that could put him behind bars. The charges came at the worst possible time, just as his rap career was taking off.

In an unexpected twist, Jeffrey Valdez was also charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon. Both Lil Tjay and Valdez hired defense lawyers to fight the charges and avoid prison time.

Lil Tjay’s Response

Lil Tjay mostly stayed quiet about the legal situation aside from a few posts on social media. In late June, he posted on Instagram thanking fans for their support and love while he was recovering from surgery and dealing with the criminal charges.

In typical rapper fashion, Lil Tjay did not take accountability for carrying an illegal firearm. Instead, he questioned why the justice system was coming after him when he was the victim of the violent robbery attempt.

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“I was shot 3 times why do they got me sitting in jail,” he wrote on Twitter in July. His posts indicated he felt the charges against him were unfair given the circumstances.

As of now, Lil Tjay is out on bail while he awaits further court dates and possible trial for the weapons charges. Many fans have speculated that he will take a plea deal to avoid the risk of a long prison sentence if convicted.

How Will This Impact His Career?

Getting caught up in a violent robbery and shooting was bad enough for the young rapper’s image. But the criminal charges have made the situation even worse for Lil Tjay’s reputation and career trajectory.

Up and coming rappers getting locked up during breakthrough points in their careers is unfortunately a common story in hip hop. The legal troubles often interrupt their progress and leave fans wondering what might have been.

However, there are also plenty of examples of rappers bouncing back after serving time. Artists like Gucci Mane, T.I, Lil Wayne and Meek Mill came out of prison to successfully relaunch their careers.

Only time will tell whether Lil Tjay will be able to recover from this serious setback. But given his talents and loyal fanbase, there’s still hope he could turn things around even if he does end up getting convicted on weapons charges.

What’s Next for Lil Tjay?

All eyes remain on how Lil Tjay’s legal situation will play out. As of September 2022, the attempted murder charges against the robbers are moving forward separately from the weapons charges against Lil Tjay and Valdez.

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If Lil Tjay takes a plea deal, he would likely serve a shorter sentence that may allow him to get back to making music sooner. But he could still be looking at potential years behind bars.

The promising 21-year-old artist had just hit a new level of fame before the shooting put his career on pause. Some music industry experts think he still has a strong shot at coming back once he’s a free man again. But a prison sentence of any length will certainly slow down his momentum.

Fans continue to wish Lil Tjay well and hope he has learned a lesson about the dangers of gun violence and potential consequences of carrying illegal weapons. For now, his new releases are on hold until the legal drama reaches its conclusion.


Lil Tjay’s journey from Bronx upstart to burgeoning rap star took an unexpected turn when he was shot and arrested on weapons charges in the summer of 2022. The robbery attempt that left him hospitalized also landed the 21-year-old in legal jeopardy.

Despite being the victim in the shooting, Lil Tjay still faces years in prison for unlawful possession of a firearm under New Jersey’s strict gun laws. The criminal case interrupted his promising career just as it was taking off.

Moving forward, Lil Tjay’s future in hip hop remains uncertain. While it’s possible he could bounce back after serving time, a conviction could also stall his momentum at a crucial stage. For the rapper and his fans, the outcome of the ongoing legal proceedings will determine what comes next.

Imran Khan

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We are dedicated to exploring the intricacies of prison life and justice reform through firsthand experiences and expert insights.

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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