A UK-based Albanian rapper has defended how he mocked the government’s crackdown on the Channel crossings, insisting he was expressing himself through his music.
OG Merks, real name Bledar Ramaj, mocked a speech by Interior Minister Suella Braverman during a video clip on YouTube for his song ‘Marco From Tropoja’.
The London-based performer was seen kicking a TV screen showing Ms Braverman’s speech, in which he claimed that ‘all Albanians living in the UK are criminals’.
Ramaj today insisted he was “raised with respect and morals” and criticized reports for “trying to sully my character instead of addressing the problem.”
The 34-year-old, who also confirmed today that he is a British citizen, can be seen in the video with masked men in a room where the Albanian national flag hangs.
Suella Braverman’s speech to parliament about the ‘wave’ of Albanians is played on TV
The rapper throws a wad of money through a counting machine, while Mrs. Braverman’s speech can be heard about the ‘surge’ of Albanians who ‘abus the modern slavery laws’.
Ramaj then shouts in Albanian to ‘turn up the volume’ before walking over to the television, kicking it aggressively and throwing it on a table.
The title of the song refers to the name of an Albanian gang leader in the 2008 Liam Neeson movie ‘Taken’ about a kidnapped girl, and the area the character comes from.
Today, Ramaj said in a lengthy Instagram post, “Good morning. I woke up today to alarming news that my name has been used in many British newspapers in relation to my ‘Marco From Tropoja’ video which was released on 03.12.22.
“As an artist, I express myself through my music. At that point Suella Braverman claimed that all Albanians living in the UK are criminals (THIS IS CLEARLY NOT TRUE) and as an artist I expressed this by smashing a TV in my music video.
“The money in that music video is all prop money hired from a British entertainment company that specializes in props.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I (was) raised with respect and morals.”
He added: ‘As a British citizen I am aware of my rights and no newspaper should use my government name. So far no one from any news source has spoken to me or anyone on my team.”
OG Merks, real name Bledar Ramaj, responded to the news reports on Instagram this morning
MailOnline reached out to an OG Merks representative for comment ahead of publication today, while the Daily Telegraph also reported it had asked him for comment.
A spokesperson for Fole Publishing, which distributes his music, told MailOnline this afternoon: “We spoke to OG Merks and he told us he has nothing to say against your articles. Everything he’s talked about is on his Instagram page.”
Ramaj hasn’t had mainstream success in the UK charts, but he has over 4,500 monthly listeners on Spotify and nearly 3,000 YouTube subscribers.
The rapper was also once featured on the BBC Asian Network, when he rapped for ‘Hype On The Mic’ in November 2018, hosted by DJ Limelight and Kan D Man.
The rapper walks over to the television, kicks it aggressively and throws it on a table
He was last on the electoral roll when he lived in a three-bedroom terraced house in Bromley, south-east London, which Zoopla estimates is worth £600,000. However, it is clear that he left home about 15 years ago.
A former neighbor in Bromley told MailOnline today that Ramaj was a “sweet” boy who “loved England” growing up. The woman said that Ramaj came to live next door to her as a teenager.
She said he lived with his parents and older brother in the Victorian terraced house for about three years before moving away.
The neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: ‘We knew him as Bled – he was named after a lake in Albania. He was about 15 when he lived here.
The TV is smashed in the YouTube clip for the rapper’s song “Marco From Tropoja.”
“They moved when he was about 18. That is a long time ago. He was sweet. The children came here when they were young so they spoke very good English and they loved England. His brother was nice too.
‘They were nice neighbours, wonderful. He was a bit of a character that — he was the younger one. I’m not surprised he’s a rapper now, he was quite the character.
“When they moved, they called once for a cup of tea, but we haven’t seen or heard from them since.”
Ramaj’s Facebook page states that he studied at London South East Colleges, with campuses in Bromley, Bexley, Greenwich and Orpington.
Now Ramaj has been criticized by the Shpresa charity programme, which promotes the participation of Albanian-speaking refugees and migrants in the UK.
You can also see how the rapper runs a thick stack of banknotes through a counting machine
A spokesman for the London-based group told the Daily telegram: ‘Rappers like him are a problem in our community.
‘They set a bad example for young people in the Albanian community. They are a bad example for other young people in Albania who want to go to the UK.’
Last November, The Mail On Sunday revealed how Albanian gangster rappers drove military vehicles equipped with heavy machine guns through a residential area in London while shooting a music video glorifying drug crime and violence.
Masked men drove around the Gascoigne Estate in Barking, East London, in an armored fighting vehicle equipped with a .30 caliber machine gun.
OG Merks has 4,500 monthly listeners on Spotify and almost 3,000 YouTube subscribers
The video, titled Poppin Smoke, was posted by the infamous rap group Hellbanianz. They share the same name as a violent gang of Albanian drug dealers who have been terrorizing the area for years.
It is feared that the slick videos are encouraging others in Albania to enter the UK illegally to join criminal gangs.
Last month Ms Braverman met with Albanian Home Secretary Bledar Cuci in London, and a British government source said Mr Cuci said his compatriots were ‘exploiting the system’.
The high-level meeting heard that Albanian nationals are making ongoing efforts to exploit the immigration laws in European countries – with Britain currently the main focus.
OG Merks once featured on the BBC Asian Network on ‘Hype On The Mic’ in November 2018
The title ‘Marco From Tropoja’ refers to the name of an Albanian gang leader from the 2008 Liam Neeson movie ‘Taken’ about a kidnapped girl, and the area where the character comes from
Last year, nearly 13,000 Albanians crossed the Channel by small boat, up from just 800 in the previous 12 months.
Numbers fell from the fall, but Interior Ministry officials have warned they expect another wave of Albanian arrivals this spring.
Many are making claims under the UK asylum system or under ‘modern slavery’ rules.
Figures released earlier this month showed modern slavery claims hit an all-time high last year, boosted by a surge in Albanian claims.
Last Thursday, a group of migrants was brought into Dover, Kent aboard a Border Force ship
The Crowne Plaza near Heathrow is one of the hotels that has housed Albanian migrants
Of the 16,938 modern slavery claims filed in 2022, 4,613 were filed by Albanian nationals, an 84 percent increase year-on-year, Interior Ministry data showed.
Last November, senior officials of the “British FBI” warned that Albanian criminals are engaged in “blatant manipulation” of modern slavery laws.
The National Crime Agency said Albanian organized crime groups bring workers to Britain by small boat to work in the drug trade and coach them on how to exploit modern slavery laws if they are arrested.
Sunak signed a joint communiqué with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in December outlining how they will fight illegal migration.