January 3, 2011

Friends, Colleagues Remember Slain Magnolia Shorty

New Orleans’ hip-hop community reacted with shock and disbelief today, when the Oreans Parish coroner’s office finally confirmed the news that had been circulating throughout the city and on the Internet: the woman murdered in a hail of gunfire early Monday afternoon in New Orleans East was Magnolia Shorty, a former Cash Money Records artist who, at 28, was already considered a legend of bounce music.

“This is weighing so hard on me,” said rapper and R&B singer Trishell “Ms Tee” Williams.

Williams was the first woman signed to the New Orleans-founded Cash Money Records, in the early 90’s. Lowe was the second, and only other, female artist to join the label in its first heyday. The two women bonded as teenage performers, and enjoyed a long and close friendship that ended, tragically and prematurely, Monday afternoon.

“I’m still saying, are you sure it was her? I’m shocked that something like this would happen to her,” Williams said.

An outpouring of mourning, love and disbelief flooded the Internet and radio waves on Monday and Tuesday. On Twitter, Lil Wayne posted “R.I.P. my big sister Magnolia Shorty. This is a krazy world.” Bryan “Baby” Williams, the Cash Money Records co-founder who also performs as the rapper Birdman, tweeted, “R.I.P. to my daughter Magnolia Shorty.” Both New Orleans hip-hop and R&B stations, 102.9 and 93.3FM, played blocks of Shorty’s songs and took calls from tearful fans.

Tab “Turk” Virgil, a former member of the Cash Money supergroup the Hot Boys, called in to Q93.3FM Tuesday afternoon. “This just hurts me from the heart,” said the rapper, who has been incarcerated in Memphis since 2004. “Every time I call home, it’s like someone else is gone. When is this gonna stop?”

Magnolia Shorty had had a pair of recent club hits, performed frequently, and in 2009 made her debut as a featured artist at the massive SXSW music festival in Austin, TX. In October, she had received the award for “Best Bounce Song” at New Orleans’ first Underground Hip-Hop Awards ceremony.

Trishell Williams and other local performers remembered Lowe as a sunny, upbeat personality with a wicked sense of humor, a scrappy attitude, and a smile for everyone, who was on the cusp of a career resurgence. “She was fun to be with, fun to be around,” said Williams. “She could make you laugh about everything, and she spoke her mind about everything. I remember being at the barbershop with her, getting our hair done – she’d be cracking jokes and I’d be laughing, falling out the chair.”

“She was a real female,” said Angela “Cheeky Blakk” Woods, a rapper who came up in the local bounce music scene alongside Lowe, in the 90’s. “She represented. I’m really shocked behind this – last month Messy Mya, this month Shorty.”

Lowe’s murder occurred on one of the most shockingly violent dates in recent history, with two other homicides taking place in New Orleans the same day. To her friends in the music scene, it was sadly reminiscent of an older loss: the November 2003 murder of James “Soulja Slim” Tapp. Tapp, whose first stage name was Magnolia Slim, grew up with Lowe in the Magnolia complex and, she had said, gave her her own performing moniker.

Tapp was murdered shortly before the release of his track “Slow Motion,” a collaboration with Juvenile. The song shot to #1 on the Billboard charts. Lowe had recently had a club hit, “My Boy,” with R&B singer Kourtney Heart, who signed to the Jive Records label two weeks ago. Friends and colleagues on Lowe believed that the song was about to launch her career to the next level, much as “Slow Motion” would have elevated Tapp’s.

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