Hip-hop twist

Feb 20, 2008 at 12:00 am

He was long ago christened "the hip-hop mayor" — so when even the local rap community starts to turn on Kwame Kilpatrick, it's a good indicator that he's losing some of his staunchest allies.

A Detroit-based rapper named the Virus has just recorded a new track that points an accusatory finger at the mayor, linking him to the highly publicized 2003 murder of the stripper named Tamara "Strawberry" Greene (who is rumored to have performed at a Manoogian Mansion party dubbed an urban legend following an investigation by the state's attorney general) — and alleges that the Kilpatrick administration covered the whole sordid mess up. The track — titled "Strawberry Letter 313 (If I Did It ...)" — is based around samples from the 1977 Brothers Johnson hit, composed by the legendary Shuggie Otis, "Strawberry Letter 23" (as well as taking its subtitle from O.J. Simpson's notorious book). Music biz legend Quincy Jones — who produced the original track and owns the publishing rights — has approved the samples, as has Universal Records, according to the track's executive producer, Jerome Almo>.

In 2005, a jury awarded $200,000 to Alvin Bowman, a former Detroit police lieutenant who alleged in a lawsuit against the city that he was transferred out of the department's homicide unit as retaliation for investigating the death of Greene, who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting.

"Right now, he's a walking stereotype," says Almon of the mayor, "and I know the hip-hop community is running away from him because he's a fake. He doesn't really care about the hip-hop community any more than he cares about the greater Detroit community or the church, with the amount of money he's taken from us, not to mention his actions. To me, the hip-hop community is more positive than negative these days. There's been too much violence over the years, a la Tupac, and he's just bringing up all those bad memories. He's not the hip-hop mayor. He's just another extremely corrupt politician who's broken every one of the Ten Commandments."

Almon and the Virus have gained a much larger profile in the last week due to the track. "Based on the notoriety we've been receiving, this track is headed for platinum with a bullet, pun intended," Almon laughs.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]