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Hip-hop's shadowy empire 

Loyalty within the Black Mafia Family made the alleged drug enterprise nearly impenetrable. But one high-placed member would break BMF's code of silence. Part 2 of 3

Editor's note: For more details about BMF, as well as notes describing the sourcing of the story, click on the "Deep Background" link at the end of each section.

On a dead-end street called Springside Run, five men dressed in black were making their way up one of the driveways. One carried brass knuckles. Another had duct tape. Some had guns. A neighbor doing yard work glanced up and thought it odd, a sight so menacing in broad daylight.

Inside the house, a rapper named Gucci Mane was hanging out with a stripper he'd met earlier that day. Gucci had wanted her to hear some of his tracks, so they decided to go back to her place. He was hoping she'd like one of the songs enough to dance to it on stage, a move that would generate some buzz.

He'd already created a good bit on his own.

It started with a track called "Icy." Gucci had written it, and a better-known rapper named Young Jeezy had laid down a few verses. But when the song became a hit, Gucci and Jeezy got in a spat over who was indebted to whom. Jeezy responded with a "dis song," "Stay Strapped," that put a $10,000 price on Gucci's diamond-encrusted necklace:

"I want that muthafuckin' bullshit-ass icy chain ...

"I got a bounty on that shit, nigga, 10 stacks ...

"So if he come to your town,

"And you just happen to snatch that muthafucker off his neck ...

"I'm gonna shoot you the 10-stack, man ...

"So I can cremate that muthafucker."

By all accounts, Jeezy wasn't one of the men who walked through the stripper's door on the afternoon of May 10, 2005. But he was connected to at least one of them.

The five men flooded the room. The one with the brass knuckles hit Gucci in the head. Another guy pistol-whipped his friend. At least one of the men drew a gun.

Gucci drew faster.

"All of a sudden I feel a pop, and fall to the ground ..."

-- Macon rapper Pookie Loc, circa 2000, recording with the group Loccish Lifestyle

The five men quickly got out of there. One of them, Henry "Pookie Loc" Clark, was separated from the others. He ran along Springside Run toward Columbia Drive. A middle school was up ahead. So was a cop car. He veered into the woods, stumbling, stumbling, falling.

"I try to move but constantly something is holding me down ..."

Five years earlier, Pookie Loc's group, Loccish Lifestyle, came to town from Macon for a freestyle rap competition at the Atrium. Without having written a single song, they took the prize. Dozens of recordings and two self-released albums later, Pookie Loc and band member Shannon "Luke" Lundy were in Atlanta again -- this time with the hopes of inking a deal with the label Corporate Thugz Entertainment. Pookie Loc was within a breath of success.

"I wake up cold and sweating, light flashing in my eye ..."

Three days after the incident at the stripper's house, DeKalb County Police got a call. Four men had shown up at Columbia Middle School to search for something in the woods. The incident report lists one of the men as Shannon "Luke" Lundy. It lists another as Demetrius "Kinky B" Ellerbee, who is co-owner, along with Young Jeezy, of Corporate Thugz Entertainment.

Luke told police he'd been at a video shoot in West End when he heard about a shooting on Springside Run. He said his friend Pookie Loc, who'd gone missing, knew a woman who lived there.

So they went looking for him.

"Realizing that I'm shot and real slowly I'm dying."

They found Pookie Loc there in the woods, dressed in black. Flies were swarming all around him.

[Deep background on the above section]

Let's get one thing straight: Young Jeezy has said on several occasions that he had nothing to do with the raid on Springside Run. Police have never named him as a suspect. And the only arrest that came of the incident was that of Gucci Mane, who was charged with killing Pookie Loc. (Those charges wouldn't stick.)

But there is some disagreement about what happened that day in May 2005. And it basically boils down to whether an organization with ties to Jeezy -- an alleged drug ring called the Black Mafia Family -- might have been involved.

At the time, BMF was well-known in Atlanta hip-hop circles as a crew that partied like celebs and dropped money like monarchy. The crew's reputation on the street was legendary. As with most legends, there was likely some truth to the lore, and quite possibly a false claim or two.

Neither Loccish Lifestyle's manager, Tarence Bivins, nor its third member, Carlos "Low Down" Rhodes, was in Atlanta at the time of Pookie Loc's death. But both Bivins and Low Down say they're positive BMF was not behind it.

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