The last thing a gang member wants to be is a snitch.
Snitches undefined or rats, squealers or canaries undefined supply damning information to police about fellow criminals that can send them to prison for life.
Hence, gang members are big proponents of the anti-snitching efforts that have been thwarting police investigations for years in the Capital Region.
But that does not stop them from providing damning information by literally singing for law enforcement.
In one of the ironies of the criminal justice system, many of the same individuals who claim to detest snitching have no problem rapping on the Internet and, in the process, giving police more information than any snitch might have provided.
They discuss specific beefs, plans, name types of guns and, most of all, show their faces for any cop to see.
The latest example surfaced on Friday when Jovell White-Span, 22, of Rensselaer, was charged as one of two alleged shooters in the 2013 slaying of Edward Maxim, who was not a gang member, in Albany.
People with knowledge of the case say White-Span and co-defendant Jahmeek "Meeker" Croley of Albany, both reputed members of the Yard Boys street gang in Albany, were recruited to kill Maxim in a prearranged hit.
Long before White-Span faced murder and conspiracy charges that carry 25 years to life in prison, the aspiring rapper created a Facebook page on which he called himself "Shooter on Deck" undefined and flashed a giant gun alongside other men flashing large guns.
So before his first day in court, he has already identified himself as a "shooter."
On March 25, White-Span went on Facebook to compliment the direction and editing skills of a video made in Troy he referred to as "SendinShots."
It so happened that on YouTube, a rap video called "Sending Shots" depicted scenes from around Troy, where several rappers made various boasts and spoke of blasting guns. One of the rappers mentions his "gunners" and makes a reference to violently riding into Second Street and Lexington Avenue, where Albany "uptown" gangs are based. It appeared to be connected to ongoing violence between gangs in Albany and Troy that police in both cities acknowledge has led to an increase in shootings.
A common theme in the back-and-forth has been that victims of the shootings have been unwilling to cooperate with police.
But on "Sending Shots," the rappers showed their faces and went into great effort to call themselves "YGz," an apparent reference to the "Young Gunnerz" gang in Troy.
On Feb. 4, 2013, Takim Smith, 21, known as "Tubu," of Albany, who was not involved in any gang, was lured to a Corliss Park apartment in Troy under the pretense of sex with two women and robbed and killed. The apartment where Smith was killed was considered a hangout for the Young Gunnerz.
Even without him being involved in crime, his death led to the Troy-Albany gang violence, police say. But they also said social media undefined such as the rap videos undefined has fueled violence.
Another video made by young rappers in Albany mocks several members of the "Gunnerz."
Both videos are packed with hand gestures about guns.
The trend is not entirely new. Federal prosecutions of gangs in the Capital Region have revealed rap videos that help identify various gang members and associates.
In 2008, when police arrested three defendants in the slaying of University at Albany student Richard Bailey, two of them had rap songs posted online.
Both later cooperated with prosecutors.