Popular Turkish rapper Ezhel arrested for ‘inciting drug use’
The 28-year-old, whose real name is Ömer Sercan İpekçioğlu, was detained on May 24 on charges of “encouraging drug use” in Istanbul by anti-narcotics police.
He was referred to a court after undergoing a health check in hospital.
The court ordered to arrest him on charges of “inciting and encouraging drug use” through his lyrics.
The hashtag #FreeEzhel in support of the artist, whose videos have been viewed millions of times online, was among the most shared in Turkey on Twitter on the night of May 24.
Ezhel released his debut album “Müptezhel” in 2017, reaching out to many across the country with his distinctive genre, which contains local tunes. The video for his song “Şehrimin Tadı” (Taste of my City) received 31 million views on YouTube.
Born and raised in the Turkish capital Ankara, Ezhel made the ghettos of the city central features of his rap music. He defines his music style as “Anatolian Urban Core/Hip-Hop/Reggae-Dub/Trap.”
Ezhel plays the guitar, piano, ney, tambourine and darbuka.
The arrest comes after a controversy that erupted in Turkey earlier this year when it was revealed that state broadcaster TRT had banned 208 songs from the airwaves in the past two years.
TRT defended itself, saying it was not a question of “banning artists” but respecting the law, which forbids the broadcast of content encouraging people to smoke or drink or that conveys “terrorist propaganda.”
Ezhel was scheduled to take stage in the world-famous Sziget Festival in Hungary in August.