Moroccan rapper ElGrande Toto sparked an outcry with his comments about using cannabis
Moroccan rapper ElGrande Toto sparked an outcry with his comments about using cannabis AFP

Moroccan rapper ElGrande Toto was taken into custody on Monday evening, following several complaints filed against him for public statements he made about using cannabis, a judicial source said.

The Casablanca-born rapper, who is a massive star in the Arabic-speaking music world, had in late September told reporters who gathered after one of his concerts, "I smoke hash -- so what?... It does not mean I set a bad example."

His comments sparked an outcry in Morocco, and the 26-year-old was on Thursday forbidden from leaving the territory by authorities and was also summoned by the police in Casablanca.

A prosecutor of a Casablanca court on late Monday decided to place Taha Fahssi -- ElGrande Toto's real name -- in custody after complaints were filed by "three artists, a journalist, and a policeman", a judicial source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

According to daily newspaper Le Matin, the rapper is the subject of a preliminary investigation that would focus on all his publications, digital content and statements "likely to contain elements punishable by law".

He was taken into custody a day after he made a public apology for his off-the-cuff comments.

"I offer my apologies to anyone offended by my words, starting with the authorities and my public," ElGrande Toto told a packed press conference Sunday in Rabat.

"This controversy was not planned -- it just got too big, and it's a good lesson for me."

After ElGrande Toto made his comments on September 23, a Belgium-based journalist lodged a complaint accusing him of "incitement to consume drugs", said the journalist's lawyer, Mohamed Karrout.

The rapper was the most in demand Arab artist in the Maghreb in 2021 on Spotify, with more than 50 million downloads. His YouTube channel meanwhile maintains 2.7 million subscribers, with popular videos drawing tens of millions of views.