St. Louis rapper Huey killed in double shooting

Rapper Huey attends Chris Brown's 18th birthday party at 40/40 club in New York on May 6, 2007. (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images/TNS)
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By Kim Bell St. Louis Post-Dispatch (TNS)

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis rapper Huey, whose 2006 debut single “Pop, Lock & Drop It” soared the Billboard charts, was killed in a double shooting in Kinloch late Thursday night. He was 32.

The shooting happened just before 11 p.m. St. Louis County police identified the victim as Lawrence Franks Jr., known to rap fans as Huey.

Social media lit up overnight with reports of his death and condolences from relatives and fans. One of them, Bruce Franks Jr., said on Twitter, “They killed my lil cousin.”

Police said the rapper was rushed to a hospital in a private car by someone at the scene, but he died after arriving at the hospital. He had been shot at least once, police said. The second victim, a 21-year-old man, went to the Ferguson Police Department after being shot, St. Louis County police Sgt. Benjamin Granda said. That man’s injuries were not thought to be life-threatening, Granda said.

The two were shot in the front yard of a home in the 8100 block of Martin Luther King Boulevard. As many as 10 people may have witnessed the shooting, police said, and detectives are asking witnesses to come forward to help police find the killer.

One of the rapper’s associates told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that it was a drive-by shooting. “That possibility is being evaluated,” Granda said.

Police released no details Friday about a possible motive. They also haven’t said if they have any suspects.

Crime-scene tape was put up in an area that included a home at 8173 Martin Luther King Boulevard. The two-bedroom brick bungalow has white columns and a lion statue in front, and a tarp partly covering the roof. St. Louis County property records list the home’s owner as Otis Hughes, who could not be reached for comment.

The home belonged to Franks’ family, his first manager, Enrico Washington, told the Post-Dispatch. Franks was a native of Kinloch who lived at a downtown loft near Busch stadium, in the 1100 block of Spruce Street in St. Louis.

Washington was a mentor and longtime friend who helped guide Franks’ music career. Another rapper called Washington in Georgia about 4 a.m. Friday with news of the death.

“He enjoyed life,” Washington said. “Just happy about life. … You’re talking about a young man who still had a lot of life to live.”

Franks was still earning royalties off the original hit single, Washington said. He was interested in building apartments and housing in St. Louis and had talked with Washington in recent years about becoming a businessman.

“Kinloch is no easy place to live,” Washington said. “It’s tough. But he was living the entrepreneurial spirit. He was doing it the right way.”

Post-Dispatch pop music critic Kevin C. Johnson wrote in 2013 that “Pop, Lock & Drop It” was the debut single from the rapper’s 2007 album “Notebook Paper,” and it flew straight into the top 10, making him one of a wave of St. Louis rappers finding popularity after Nelly and Chingy. His hit single was a party anthem at the time.

He attended Berkeley High School and McCluer High School before earning his GED. He has a teenage daughter, Lawryn.

Johnson featured Franks in 2007, writing that he described his childhood as troubled.

“It was really rough,” said Franks, the youngest of four children. “My mama and daddy were on drugs. My brother was in and out of jail. The foster people were chasing me. It was crazy.”

In 2013, he had signed a deal with rapper Waka Flocka Flame, but not much materialized from that and Franks had been relatively quiet on the music scene in recent years. He was said to be filming a new video this weekend. He had rented a mansion in south St. Louis County to film the video for a song called “Lap Dance.”

“My heart is hurt,” said Coolaid, a St. Louisan who was Franks’ current manager. “We were on the phone six, seven times yesterday. He was with his family. He was happy. He was excited about the video and about making a comeback. We believed this was the one.”

He added, “This senseless violence has got to stop.”

(Kevin C. Johnson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.)
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