The rap game and the underworld in Brooklyn have a sycophantic, symbiotic relationship. That mingling of artists and criminals lends the street cred that sells downloads.
Damion “World” Hardy was one who walked that line.
A drug-dealer from the Brooklyn streets, Hardy led a violent drug gang dubbed Cash Money Brothers (CMB), biting the name for the crew off the classic gangster film “New Jack City,” starring Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, and Chris Rock. Like in that movie, Hardy’s gang was responsible for commandeering a New York City public housing project, in this instance Lafayette Gardens in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. They actually lay siege to entire buildings, running a complex, large-scale drug operation out of multiple units. The captive residents either participated or turned a blind eye, under threat of extreme violence.
At the end of his bloody decade, including a running drug war that claimed brother and CMB co-founder Myron “Wise” Hardy, Hardy was nailed with a life sentence for six murders.
Hardy was an especially dangerous criminal, diagnosed with schizophrenia. It took more than a dozen years to bring him to trial, as his defense lobbied hard that he was not mentally competent to be prosecuted. Ultimately the government prevailed and Hardy, along with several underlings, were brought to trial facing multiple counts of murder, assault, narcotics trafficking, racketeering and other charges.
Hardy was initially arrested in 2004, but due to his illness avoided trial for years, where he would have faced the death penalty. It took that long for federal prosecutors to get a judge to mandate he be forcefully administered medication to be able to submit to judgement.
During his ruthless reign Hardy achieved even more notoriety based on his short-lived romance with rap superstar Lil’ Kim, who also grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The couple began dating in 2002 and were supposedly engaged, but the relationship fell apart by 2003, with Kim accusing Hardy of physical abuse publicly in an article that ran in The Source magazine. Ever since, whenever Hardy was mentioned in the media, he was usually referred to as “Lil’ Kim’s ex.”
Hardy gained further press coverage for a rumor he put out a contract hit on Mike Tyson, who also has roots in the Brooklyn housing projects of Do-or-Die Bed-Stuy. Adding to his cred, Hardy was also involved in an altercation with rap-star 50 Cent.
Aside from drug-related homicides, Hardy was convicted of ordering henchmen to shoot to death a security guard at a Brooklyn roller rink where he had been bounced, as well the owner of a medical facility after an incident where Hardy felt slighted.
Convicted alongside Hardy, following a four-week trial, was Aaron Granton, dubbed his “personal hitman.” Granton was handed a life sentence.
As several of the victims’ family members lambasted the two in court while delivering their victim-impact statements, the two appeared disinterested and aloof, entirely lacking in empathy and remorse for the damage they wrought on the streets of Brooklyn.