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The Year of the Black Lips

On the verge of mainstream success, the Black Lips do it their way. But must they grow up to be taken seriously?

It’s sometime after noon on the third day of Austin’s see-and-be-seen music conference, South by Southwest, and the morning haze still hasn’t burned off. That suits the scenesters gathered in the courtyard of Club de Ville just fine. Odds are, they’re hungover and nursing the club’s free-but-warm beer. There’s a good chance they aren’t ready to deal with full daylight. And they’re about to come face to face — possibly for the first time, in which case they might be a tad unprepared — with the Atlanta spectacle known as the Black Lips. >>

Published April 4, 2007

What Makes Kenny Crucial?

The mystery behind Atlanta’s most important music fan

Few people can honestly recall the first time they saw him. It might have been circa 1995, on one of those MJQ nights when the club was still in the basement of the Ponce de Leon Hotel. Maybe it was as far back as the late ’80s, when legendary DJ Bobby Bridges was in the booth at Weekends. It could have been when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs played the Echo Lounge in 2003, or perhaps it was two years later across the Atlantic, when the Foo Fighters performed at Leeds. >>

Published March 14, 2007

Learning to Hit a Lick

Falicia Blakely was a 16-year-old dancer when she met a pimp 11 years her senior. Within two years, she’d be a prostitute facing the death penalty for three murders.

Falicia stretched out on the floor of the apartment and, finally feeling ready for anything, pulled from her purse a .32-caliber Sauer & Son pistol. Nobody seemed to care. Doc was on the phone. Ray and Pumpkin were playing solitaire on Ray’s laptop. In front of the four of them, the sliding glass door framed a sky about to reach out and swallow the sun, to take the edge off the heavy August heat. Since the afternoon, when they began partying, the cover of clouds had lifted, loosening the morning fog and mist so that only broken fragments remained. And still no rain. It hadn’t rained in weeks. >>

Published March 4 and March 11, 2004

Losing Hanna

A 15-year-old girl goes missing

The man who lives in the house with the tall white fence is standing in his driveway, loading 2×4′s onto the bed of his pickup. A gray truck pulls onto his street. It slows down. The passenger door opens. The man hears a “thump.” Someone must have dumped a bag of trash on the side of the road. He walks across his courtyard to get a closer look. It’s 6:30 p.m., almost too dark to see. >>

Published July 27 and August 3, 2005

Locked Out

How one of the country’s most lauded housing agencies rebuilt the homes of the poor to better serve the middle class

Stevie Rogers moved out of Carver Homes four years ago, expecting she’d be back one day. She settled into a cinderblock house with a dirt yard and kept tabs as the public housing project fell to the wrecking ball. She waited while construction crews cleared the 100 acres of rubble in the southern shadow of downtown. She watched them build rows of terraced apartments, a sprawling playground and a community clubhouse. >>

Published May 8, 2002

UPCOMING EVENTS

BMF on the History Channel show "Gangland": In an episode titled "Death Before Dishonor," the History Channel delves into the Black Mafia Family. BMF author Mara Shalhoup makes a guest appearance. Fri., Sept. 24, 10 p.m. www.history.com.

Updates

Young Jeezy, Big Meech, the Black Family Mafia, and a hundred thousand kilos of coke

A Q&A with Miami New Times

My Hot 93.7 interview about BMF

The wide reach of the Black Mafia Family, from Jeezy to Jacob, Fab to Diddy