Lunatic Fringe

News from St. Louis' favorite rappers

It's not every day that Radar Station receives a fax from Jay Nixon's office -- unsurprisingly, the attorney general usually doesn't have much to report on the music front. We got one last week, though, gloating about the State of Missouri's success in collecting some $25,000 from imprisoned St. Lunatic Lavell Webb, better known as City Spud. Webb is serving a 10-year sentence for armed robbery, although he wasn't the one who pulled the trigger [Randall Roberts, "Bad Rap," August 8, 2001]. The actual gunman, who wisely chose to seek legal counsel before submitting to a police interrogation, now walks free. Webb followed his grandparents' advice and confessed everything. He's paying a high price for his honesty: 10 years of his life and a total of $100,000, to be disbursed over the next six years.

Unlike most prisoners, who enjoy all-expenses-paid terms, Webb has enough money to spring for his own room and board: Before he was incarcerated, he produced several songs on Nelly's multiplatinum Country Grammar and performed on the megahit single "Ride Wit Me." Jane Higgins, spokeswoman for the Lunatics, says that Webb and his crew accept the terms of the settlement. "The Lunatics support any attempt [Webb] makes to uphold his obligations," Higgins tells us in a phone interview. "I can't talk for City, but I did speak to him, and if he's angry, I didn't pick up on that at all."

If justice is being served, it's surely the poetic kind. How beautifully ironic that the state is profiting from a glitzy, dope-fueled booty-call, one that contains the genius couplet "City talk, Nelly listen; Nelly talk, city listen/When I fuck fly bitches; when I walk, pay attention."

Higgins also confirmed rumors that Nelly got kicked out of Union Station, where he was trying to shop at a sports-clothing store. His fellow Lunatic Murphy Lee was shooting a video for the remix of "Welcome to Atlanta," in which St. Louis Cardinal Fernando Viña makes a cameo appearance. "All the guys love Viña," Higgins explains, "so Nelly thought it would be cool to get a whole bunch of Viña jerseys to pass out to people. He goes in [to Union Station], and they told him to leave because he had a do-rag on."

Higgins understands that the prohibition is meant to curtail gang violence, but she still thinks store personnel overreacted: "I'm not saying they should have changed the rules, but when you have someone at your store who's going to spend a lot of money and who has a nice reputation for giving back to the city, let him go buy his stuff. He's clearly not there to pull out a gun or knife or hurt anyone.

"I've heard some people are going to boycott," Higgins continues. "That's cool -- it's the American way. I'm not sure that Nelly would boycott; then again, I also don't know if he'll go in there without his do-rag. He can go to Frontenac Plaza and wear what he wants, he can go to the Grammys and wear what he wants, so I'm not sure he'll be showing up at Union Station."

If you ask us, no one -- superstar rapper or anonymous kid -- should be hassled for wearing a do-rag. Do-rags aren't indicators of gang activity; they're a fashion accessory popular among young black men, most of whom aren't criminals. Banning them is a clumsy and transparent form of racial profiling, one that causes ill-will and protects no one.

The RFT Music Awards showcase is over (see next week's column for the official rundown); now it's time to announce the winners. On Tuesday, May 14, we dole out the coveted plastic trophies in the glamorous confines of the Pageant. We've received assurances that some very famous people are planning to attend, so by all means show up for the free party and gawk away.

Is Colony breaking up? Last week, on the day the paper went to press, we learned that the Modern Rock nominees had called off their set at the RFT Music Awards showcase. A few days later, rumors started to circulate about a fistfight between band members and the cancellation of all scheduled gigs. According to frontman and principal songwriter Ted Bruner, no one actually came to blows. Bassist Andy Conrad and lead guitarist Jon Armstrong have quit, however, leaving only Bruner and drummer Matt Hickenbotham in the band. "It's just hard as you get older to sacrifice everything for the music business," Bruner tells us by e-mail. "But as the songwriter, I'm in it for the long haul. Matt is still down with it, so we're writing an album for ourselves, and I have a feeling it will be the best album we've ever done. We're still signed to Beyond Music, and we're in the middle of discussing our future with them.... We've considered asking a few musicians in the area to join, but we're not in too much of a hurry until the new album's finished. But if you want to tell your readers that we swung guitars at each other onstage, we could use the publicity."

Farewell and congratulations to former 100.3 The Beat personality DJ Kut, who has moved to New York to become the mix-show coordinator at WWPR-FM, Power 105.1. Alongside such hip-hop luminaries as Dr. Dre and Flava Flav, Kut hosts both a morning drive-time show and a Friday-night mix show. Given the massive consolidation and rampant downsizing in the commercial-radio industry, high-profile on-air gigs are hard to come by. DJ Kut definitely deserves his shot at the big time -- and, if they have any taste at all, New Yorkers will love him as much as we do.

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