Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

C-Murder: Rapper Lives His Lyrics

No Limits

In the early years of Rock & Roll, and the years immediately preceding it in the early to mid-1950s, most recordings by black artists contained warning labels. They read, "Not licensed for commercial airplay. For use on home phonographs only." In many of these cases, the lyrics were more subtle than overt. Metaphorical rather than literal. When the Clovers sang, "Really like your peaches, wanna shake your tree" ("Lovey Dovey," 1954) they weren't talking about shaking fruit down from a tree, and anyone listening to the song readily understood that. Even the words "rock and roll" themselves were originally a metaphor for sex, originating from the song "Sixty Minute Man" by Billy Ward and the Dominoes ("I rock 'em and roll 'em all night long, I'm a 60-minute man").

But, in those days and for many years afterward, song lyric writers policed themselves. The best of them found ways of extolling sex without coming out and saying it in blatant terms. Over time, however, the boundaries and guidelines gradually broke down. By the end of the 20th century, they were gone completely. There wasn't a cuss word or an ethnic slur that couldn't be articulated on record. Although the offending words were censored during airplay and the records themselves contain warning labels about explicit lyrics, the records themselves were still played. And they were uncensored when blasted at full volume on home and car CD players. There were no limits on what could or could not be said, and one of the leading proponents of this phenomenon was No Limit Records.

The top-selling single of the year 2000 was recorded by a contingent of No Limit's stable of artists that included Master P himself, along with brothers Silkk the Shocker and C-Murder. Calling themselves the 504 Boyz after the telephone area code for the New Orleans area, their song was titled "Wobble Wobble." C-Murder's "solo" near the end of the record went as follows:

Let me see you wobble then shake it, then baby pop it, don't break it
You want love let's make it, I just can't wait 'til you naked
You lick your lips it makes me hard
daydreamin' of screamin' and fiendin'
You creamin' for sex, that you gonna get this evening
Ya' heard me.

Previous verses contained even more explicit lyrics, coming right out and saying the "f-word," the "s-word" and the "n-word," as well as the "mf-word." Women are "bitches" and "hoes." This was no longer their grandfathers' subtly suggestive rhythm and blues. It was "in your face," designed-to-shock lyrics — raunchy, raw and uncut. From there, it was only a small step to carrying out the deeds sung about in the lyrics in real life.

Kane and Abel (David and Daniel Garcia)
Kane and Abel (David and Daniel Garcia)

However, while Master P capitalized on this trend and parlayed it into a fabulous fortune, he generally stayed on the right side of the law. Over the years he's had a few minor dust-ups with the authorities, most recently being arrested along with Silkk on concealed weapons charges on the campus of UCLA in early 2006, but he has wisely steered clear of the violence his songs reflect. He is a family man, devoted to his wife of 15 years, Sonia, and his five children, including his 17-year-old rapper son, Lil Romeo. He has also tried to maintain a squeaky-clean image for his label and its artists, even to the extent of canceling the contract of one of his best-selling duos, Kane and Abel (David and Daniel Garcia) after they were busted on drug charges. A year away from turning 40, he seems to have retreated from the spotlight, having attained nearly everything anyone could want out of life.

Not so, though, for younger brother Corey, who rushed in to fill the Miller family vacuum Percy created by his self-imposed retreat into relative anonymity. These days it's Corey who's getting most of the ink and the airtime, but not in a good way. A series of major missteps brought the long arm of the law down on him.

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