Soulja Slim Biography

James A'Darryl Tapp, known as Soulja Slim in the world of gangsta rap, was poised on the brink of national prominence when he was gunned down in his hometown of New Orleans on November 26, 2003. Growing up in the city's violent Magnolia public housing project, Tapp attended Booker T. Washington High School and, as Magnolia Slim, started rapping at open air bounce parties in "the circle," the project's courtyard. The next year he allied himself with local Hype Enough Records and began guesting on local rap albums. "Street cred," the essence of believability so important to the reputation of a gangsta rapper, was never a problem for Tapp. An abuser of heroin and cocaine, the teenager carried a gun to ripoff drug dealers. By the time Tapp was through with the justice system, he logged more than five years prison time on charges including armed robbery, auto theft, battery, drug possession, and parole and probation violations. Like badges of honor or harbingers of Fate, bullet wounds from two separate attacks on the rapper in the Magnolia project within a four month period around late 1996–early 1997 left scars on Soulja Slim's arms, chest, and leg. No arrests were made in either shooting. Rappers, however, turn the violence of ghetto life into rhymes and Tapp's profanity-laced songs overflowing with images of gang life, drugs, and drive-by shootings reflected his experience. In the exploding New Orleans rap scene, Soulja Slim became a hero on the streets primarily because (as his producer KLC noted) there was "nothing studio in him." In 1998, Tapp renamed himself Soulja Slim and released his debut solo album, Give It 2 'Em Raw, on No Limit, the New Orleans–based label owned by childhood friend and rap mogul Master P. Ironically, another No Limit rapper, C-Murder (see entry), younger brother of Master P, was convicted of murder in September 2003. The cover of Give It 2 'Em Raw embodied Soulja Slim as the ghetto street warrior and featured the rapper dressed in camouflage surrounded by flames and exploding tanks. The album sold nearly 500,000 units and would have earned a gold record had Tapp been able to tour in its promotion instead of doing time in prison on a parole violation. No Limit, now a nationally known rap label, released Soulja Slim's second album, The Streets Made Me, in July 2001. The album sold 200,000 copies, but sales were again hampered by Tapp's incarceration for yet another parole violation. Released from the penitentiary in 2001, Tapp's career suffered another setback when an argument with Master P over finances led the rapper to angrily leave No Limit in 2002. Asked by a magazine interviewer at the time whether he planned to sue the label, Tapp replied, "I got some paperwork where I could try to go to war, but I ain't no nigga to go to court.... You heard me? I get it in blood, nigga." In December 2002, Soulja Slim independently released the album Years After on his own label, Cut Throat Committy. With no national distribution outlets, the album sold an astonishing 30,000 units by word of mouth alone, and brought the rapper to the attention of national label Koch Records. Months before Tapp's death, Koch signed the rapper and released Years Later ... A Few Months Later (an updated version of his independent record) in August 2003. Backed by Koch, the "Tupac of the South" (as he was called by many), was ready to break nationally. Soulja Slim had the rap, the street cred, the gangsta attitude, and the look: numerous tattoos, prison cross between his eyes, gold-capped teeth, and a diamond encrusted Rolex. In November 2003, Tapp shot a music video in support of the album set to air on MTV and BET. Still, the rapper was unable or unwilling to tone down the violence in his personal life. Weeks prior to his murder, Soulja Slim had punch ups in clubs in Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana. According to a source quoted on the website who witnessed the New Orleans incident: "Slim was wildin' out, he was on X (Ecstasy) hard. He was out at a club on the West Bank. Someone said something like fuck Magnolia (the Magnolia projects in New Orleans) then all of Magnolia busted ‘em up. The dude that got jumped has been walking around with a vest on all week, looking for Slim." On November 26, 2003, the 25-year-old rapper spent the afternoon in the upstairs apartmentmusic studio he maintained in his mother's twostory duplex at 4618 Lafaye Street in New Orleans viewing a copy of the music video Koch Records was planning to launch his new album. Years earlier in 1998, Tapp used money earned from rapping to move his mother out of the dangerous Magnolia housing project and buy her a home in the more sedate Gentilly neighborhood. Around 4:30 P.M., Soulja Slim left the house to run some errands in his fully loaded grey Cadillac Escalade tricked out with the Throat logo engraved on every seat. Returning an hour and fifteen minutes later, the rapper was walking across the lawn to the front door of the house when a gunman wearing dark clothes pumped at least three shots into his face and one into his chest. Police arrived and found Tapp dead on the front lawn with the driver's side door of the SUV open and his gun still inside the vehicle. Garelle Smith, 22, was arrested on December 30, 2003 and charged with Tapp's murder after a ballistics test on the murder weapon, a .40-caliber Glock semiautomatic allegedly stolen by Smith from a New Orleans police officer's home, tied him to the executionstyle killing. According to police, Smith was paid $10,000 for the hit that had something to do with the record industry and a rival record company. Hip-hop insiders, however, largely discounted the killing was linked to bad blood between Soulja Slim's old and new record labels pointing to the deep friendship between C-Murder (Master P's younger brother) and the dead rapper. Tapp's family was blindsided in March 2004 when the New Orleans district attorney's office refused the charge against Garelle Smith citing the evidence was insufficient to prove the crime. Still reeling from the release of the prime suspect, the family was again floored when police announced their investigation into Soulja Slim's murder uncovered evidence implicating the murdered rapper in the shooting death of truck driver Robert Lee Paige, Jr., in September 2003. Paige's body was found weighted down with cinder blocks in the New Orlean's City Park lagoon. Tapp's manager, Anthony "Antman" Murray, ripped the police for making Soulja Slim a post - humous suspect, charging, "That's just their way of closing their books. Nothin' on the street was serious enough for him to bother with like that. Nothing that crucial.... He wasn't on that type of time. He was on artist-type time." As to Soulja Slim's killing, KLC, the dead rapper's producer, spoke the final word, "It could have been jealousy, it could have been a lot of things. You hear so much, you don't know what to believe. But the streets talk, and with the following that Slim had, the truth is going to come out." Garelle Smith, still considered by authorities as the prime suspect in Soulja's alleged contract killing, has as of 2009 walked free on three other suspected murders

Tags: USA, Rapper, 1970-1979