COLUMBIA — It will be a big day for MU on Oct. 23.
Homecoming festivities will be followed by a football game against Big 12 Conference rival Oklahoma. And after the game, freshman running back Marcus Murphy will be going to work in the parking lot of South Residence Hall, selling copies of the Kentucky Boulevard Boys' second album, "Flawless Victory."
McNeese State Cowboys (1-0)
at Missouri Tigers (1-0)
WHEN: 6 p.m.
WHERE: Memorial Stadium
RADIO: KTGR/1580 AM and 100.5 FM, KCQM/96.7 FM
Pay per view television info at mutigers.com
Who are the Kentucky Boulevard Boys? Well, they prefer KBB for short, and they are Columbia's next big rap group, made up entirely of Missouri football players.
Like the other great ventures of this era, whether it be Facebook, Dell Computers or Def Jam records, KBB started in a dorm room. In 2009, when cornerback Kip Edwards heard tight end Michael Egnew freestyle rapping from down the hall, it was a modern-day meeting of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Music history soon followed.
Using Best Buy gift cards from their 2008 Alamo Bowl gift bags, Edwards, Egnew, wide receiver Jerrell Jackson, linebacker Zavier Gooden and defensive end Jacquies Smith bought a music studio program for Egnew's computer and went into the studio — Egnew's dorm room.
"We're probably the best that ever lived," Egnew says with a straight face as his crew members crack up.
"We're going worldwide," Edwards follows.
Named for the street that runs past the athletes' dorms, the Kentucky Boulevard Boys are sometimes a serious music venture, sometimes an off field recreation and sometimes an elaborate inside joke. And with six active members, sometimes the group can be all three at one time.
Like any great rap crew, each KBB member has a role. Egnew is the producer, the mid Missouri Dr. Dre. He makes KBB's beats in his dorm room.
Jackson is the jokester, the hype man. He will jump into the track with a witty reference, or as he puts it in one of his lyrics, he "might hit you with two like (former Oregon* running back and Boise State lineman puncher) LeGarrette Blount."
Smith is mister smooth, the soulful crooner, the Nate Dogg of the group. When a KBB song needs a hook, a chorus, Smith is the man for the task. Chances are high that if you pass Smith on the quad you can hear him singing his favorite KBB hook, "Drop the chicken dinner and get with the winner."
Gooden is the wild card, he can rap, hum or sing gospel-style.
Edwards describes himself as "Weezy," the next coming of Lil' Wayne.
"I'm just a lyricist god," Edwards jokes.
The fellow members of KBB do not agree with the lofty designation.
This summer, Jackson said that he was looking for a new member for KBB. The rules? You have to be a great rapper, and you have to be from Texas.
"We're looking for quality – quality players and quality minds," Jackson said. "You ain't going to be be full KBB unless you from Texas."
After a long American idol-like audition process, KBB found Murphy, a freshman and DeSoto, Texas native. Dubbed Lil' Murph, he covers the freestyle verses on KBB songs. He is also tasked with distribution when "Flawless Victory," a saying from the video game "Mortal Kombat," comes out — or in the industry parlance, "drops" — on homecoming day.
Murphy first auditioned in Edwards' car, then in Egnew's dorm. Murphy carries a quiet demeanor and a 4.2 high school GPA, and Jackson was skeptical about his ability to "spit." Now Jackson is Lil' Murph's biggest fan.
A non-Texas rapper can be a featured artist on a KBB track, but Jackson makes sure that the group remains Lone Star State only.
"A lot of guys got their feelings hurt. Like 15 a day," a jovial Jackson says before bursting out in laughter.
The Texas-only rule has forced other Missouri football players/aspiring MCs to the outside. Edwards says the Bird Brothers, a group made up of Carl Gettis, Trey Hobson and Munir Prince, wanted to join up with KBB but were turned away.
KBB songs hit all the important issues. They have tracks about barbecue, weight lifting and Missouri football. Sean Weatherspoon, Danario Alexander and Kevin Rutland have all come by the studio — Egnew's room — and recorded tracks as featured artists.
Smith and Jackson find KBB music as a way to cut out the middle man. Why try to find a song that fills a need when they can make their own? Both players listen to KBB on their iPods while they lift weights and Smith says that the first thing he does before he goes out is put on a KBB song.
Missouri athletes in rap crews is nothing new. The most famous rap in Missouri athletics history is "The Cats from Ol' Mizzou," put together by the 1987 Tigers basketball team and kept alive by YouTube. More recently, former Missouri safety William Moore and basketball center Leo Lyons were part of a rap group called Fa Sho Entertainment that opened for Bone Thugs-N-Harmony at the Blue Note in 2007.
The Kentucky Boulevard Boys are not as serious as Fo Sho Entertainment, but they certainly aren't spitting the fun-loving raps of 1987 either.
"We're 100 percent better than those guys," Edwards says.
The ever-confident Edwards has big goals for the crew — he wants to see KBB on stage at The Blue Note. Smith, ever smooth, reins in Edwards' confidence with some perspective.
Smith says that KBB was asked to perform at the Missouri athletics banquet, the ROAR awards. They turned down the offer, but Smith expects the group to perform at the 2011 edition.
KBB's first album, "Full Barbecue, No Meal" was released only to Egnew's computer and select friends of the crew. To this point, the group is still unsigned, but the members think all that will change when their next EP is finished.
To make "Flawless Victory" KBB meets on football off days. Most of the songs were recorded in the offseason, but once a weekend, the crew will drop by Egnew's room and lay down some tracks. On a good day, like in the summer, they can make four original songs. That number is now down to one or two a session. It's not for a lack of effort though, Edwards is clear that KBB hits the back burner once football season and the school year start.
But much like the hard offseason work the players put in to prepare for the 2010 football season, the groundwork for success has been laid for KBB. On the field, all six members of the group look poised for breakout years. Gooden and Egnew each had big opening games against Illinois. Perhaps it's no different for KBB.
Some tweaks are still needed before "Flawless Victory" can be released, but soon Egnew will burn the album to a stack of CDs, one by one, and hand them to Murphy, Missouri's new kick returner. Murphy will then hand out copies of the most anticipated athlete/rapper debut since Kobe Bryant's under-appreciated "K.O.B.E."
Oh, and don't even try to get a preview of the album. The entire crew is on lockdown. No leaking of songs, no freestyle rapping anywhere other than Egnew's dorm. They don't want to spoil the Oct. 23 surprise.