Monday-Friday
6A        Morning Edition
9A        Music
3P        Fresh Air
4P        All Things Considered
6:30P  The Daily

7P        Eclectic After Dark
banner101 3
caption
Courtesy of the Phipps family

McKinley "Mac" Phipps at Lousiana's Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in 2011.

Courtesy of the Phipps family

Mac Phipps, the New Orleans-area rapper who has been in prison since being convicted on charges of manslaughter in 2001, was recommended for clemency this week. The recommendation for immediate parole by the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Committee on Parole puts the rapper, who has maintained his insistence that he is innocent of the crime he was accused of, one step closer to freedom.

Delivered in a remote hearing over Zoom on Monday, Feb. 22, the board's unanimous vote does not overturn Phipps' conviction or argue his innocence; rather, it recommends early release in light of the rapper's time served and good behavior while incarcerated. His case now goes to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards for review. The news comes two decades into a 30-year sentence, which began after a contentious trial in which Phipps' song lyrics became a central tool of the prosecution's case to incriminate him.

A spokesperson for Gov. Edwards told NPR, "Mr. Phipps' application has not been forwarded to [the] Governor's office and as such the Governor is unable to comment about a clemency application he has not yet reviewed." The spokesperson did add that Edwards has approved 273 clemency requests in just over four years in office. (By comparison, his immediate predecessor approved just three such requests in eight years as governor.) If Gov. Edwards grants clemency, Phipps will then be given a parole hearing, and if released will spend 10 years on parole.

Born McKinley Phipps Jr., Mac Phipps began rapping at an early age, dropping his debut album at 13. A local favorite, the hip-hop prodigy eventually signed with one of the most consequential rap labels of the 1990s, Master P's No Limit Records. With that change came an image adjustment: Phipps' early work had been self-identified "conscious" rap, introspective and lyric-driven, but after signing with the more street-oriented label he adopted an explicitly gangsta persona and rebranded with the nickname The Camouflage Assassin. He released two albums with No Limit.

In February 2000, Phipps was at Club Mercedes in Slidell, La., for a performance when gunfire rang out in the room. In the ensuing panic, he regrouped with the family members who had accompanied him to the show and drove home to Baton Rouge, but late that night, police arrived to arrest Phipps in connection with the shooting death of 19-year-old Barron Victor Jr. The rapper was ultimately charged and, in 2001, convicted of manslaughter.

The artist had no previous criminal record, and as his defense argued, no physical evidence linked Phipps to the shooting. Perhaps more notably, days after the arrest, a man named Thomas Williams — a member of Phipps' entourage who had been working security at the club that night — visited local police and confessed that he, not Phipps, had shot Victor. As NPR's Louder Than A Riot podcast reported on Phipps in 2020, the prosecution's case leaned heavily on the rapper's Camouflage Assassin persona, citing lyrics from his songs that described violent acts as indicative of his capacity to commit murder.

"This guy shouldn't be incarcerated. And I know that his music got him incarcerated. But they got the wrong guy," Phipps' former label head, Master P, told Louder Than A Riot in an interview recorded last year. "I mean, when you talk about 'assassin,' we talking about verbal assassin. We talking about how he killed people with his lyrics. And I think the system mixed that up with what he is as an entertainer."

Even in his clemency hearing on Monday, Phipps' relationship with hip-hop was a point of questioning. Tony Marabella, one of the pardon board members, asked Phipps if he was planning to return to rap once he's released: "That business that you're in has a flair for getting people into trouble or at least getting them put under suspicion. Do you follow what I'm saying?"

In his response, Phipps shied away from the spotlight that had been used against him two decades prior. "I think at 43 years old, my approach to that business is pretty different," he said. "My capacity is probably more on the musical side of it, rather than just, you know, being out front and entertaining. I think I've gotten a little too old to be the out-front man at this point." He added that he may not go back to music at all, saying he'd like to make use of the HVAC degree he obtained while in prison, as well as help out with his parents' visual art business.

Clemency from the governor would not exonerate Phipps, but his attorney is preparing for another legal move that could potentially reverse his conviction, based on a separate issue during his 2001 trial.

Phipps was convicted by a non-unanimous jury, which the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled unconstitutional in the United States. (At the time, Louisiana was one of only two states to allow non-unanimous decisions.) This year, the Supreme Court will decide whether that ruling will apply retroactively to older cases like Phipps', too.

Pending that result, Phipps' lawyer Stanton Jones plans to petition the Louisiana courts to throw out his case altogether. If Jones is successful, Phipps' original felony conviction would be invalidated, rendering clemency and parole a moot point. Mac Phipps would be a free man.

Louder Than A Riot hosts Sidney Madden and Rodney Carmichael joined Ari Shapiro to discuss the greater significance of Mac Phipps' story on All Things Considered. Hear their full conversation at the audio link.

This story was adapted for the Web with assistance from LaTesha Harris and Adelina Lancianese.

Pin it
  • 104.9 FAQs
  • Join Us!
  • 104.9 Insiders
  • SoCo Baby
  • SoCo Calendar
  • Talk To Me
  • Hiding Places
  • Birdwatch

Why is 104.9 becoming an NPR station?

104.9 FM has been purchased by Northern California Public Media. The former KDHT is now KRCB FM. The frequency has been changed, by permission of the FCC, from a commercial station to a non-commercial station. NorCal Public Media wanted to acquire a larger, more powerful radio frequency, and Amaturo Sonoma Media Group was willing to sell 104.9 to NorCal Public Media.

Why did KRCB need another signal?

The former KRCB FM Radio 91 signal covers a very small area, and only a portion of Sonoma County. KRCB FM listeners have made it clear over the decades that what they wanted most from KRCB was to expand the geographic reach and signal strength of the public media news and music service. Over the course of two years, NorCal Public 

More

 

 
KRCB 1049 radio logoBrowse around our site and you'll see a few ways you can join in the effort to make KRCB 104.9 a great community radio station for Sonoma County. You can record a message that we play on-air, give us some new ideas, and keep abreast of what we're doing. New ways to engage with us our coming soon.
 
But there's an old fashioned one that's really important to us: become a member! We're making a big commitment to serving Sonoma County better, and while we really do want you to listen, and participate, helping pay for all of this would be really helpful too! Any amount helps, and we've got lots of cool gifts including some great CDs curated by our DJ Doug Jayne.
 
Please click: www.krcb.org/join   Thank you!
 
 
Welcome to the new KRCB 104.9. This is a forum so we can hear from you, answer your questions, and generally exchange ideas about how we can improve.
FB screenshot
Read More
 
“Sonoma County Baby” began in 2013 as a way to connect new Sonoma County mothers with the history of the county. In cooperation with Sutter Health, a nice book was published that featured the stories of several dozen Sonoma County families, describing how they each came to Sonoma County. The book was given to new moms. The project’s website is here: http://sonomacountybaby.com/.
 
Now, we want to put stories like this on KRCB-FM, Sonoma County’s NPR station. How and when did your family come to Sonoma County? Does your story include some old Sonoma County landmarks that some of us might remember? What was interesting about it? Finding the interesting part is important! These recording are all short, less than a minute or under 100 words. That’s not enough time to tell the whole story—just the highlights. Here's a sample script that’s about the right length. Click "Read More" to hear what others have submitted.
 
Read More
 
Be on KRCB 104.9...answer this month's "Talk to Me" question: What does Sonoma County need that it doesn't already have? 
 
You can do a recording right from your computer or smartphone, but please use an external microphone (ear buds are good enough). Don't worry, you can try as many times you like until you get a "good take." We won’t hear any of the bad ones. After you finish, the page will give you a chance to listen and decide if you like it. Once you get a good one, you'll be asked for your name and email address. Then hit "Send.” (Click "reset" if you would rather try again.)
 
Go to the recorder page
 
Each week, Santa Rosa-based travel writer Dana Rebmann introduces us to great local spots to visit. Listen on-air for the latest. Or click here:
 
 Crane Creek Regional Park
 
 Marijke's Sculpture Grove
 
 
Read More

Listen to the Sonoma County Birdwatch!

fullerThroughout the week, we play short segments about what birds are out in Sonoma County and what they sound like, from Harry Fuller. Harry spent his working career as a TV and Internet newsman in the Bay Area.  He’s been leading bird trips and writing about birds for thirty years.  He has written three natural history books: Freeway Birding, I-5 San Francisco to Seattle; San Francisco’s Natural History, Sand Dunes to Streetcars; Great Gray Owl in California, Oregon & Washington. He blogs regularly about birds: atowhee.blog.  And he frequently leads birding trips on the Pacific Coast. Check him out at http://www.towhee.net/.

Northern California
Public Media Newsletter

Get the latest updates on programs and events.