By: Ural Garrett
Around fall/winter of 2008, I participated in a short stint as an intern for Trill Entertainment. At the time, I believed it would be a great opportunity to get my foot in the door as an entertainment writer along with the fact that the label was doing pretty well for the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana with hits from Lil Boosie and Webbie. Most importantly, I figured it would even get me a few cool points with friends and family.
Didn’t quite work out like that…
Actually, I didn’t do much. In fact, I did so little that I eventually stop showing up to their office which at the time was in a newly built movie studio before the label’s move to Atlanta. On the other hand, my first assignment as an intern for the label was pretty interesting.
I was assigned by the Trill’s manager/publicist/head lady-in-charge to write a bio for Lil Phat, son of the label’s co-founder and co-president Melvin Vernell. At the time, he had just released a pretty decent solo mixtape with DJ Khaled entitled Life Of A Yungsta. The interview was set at the office the next day in the afternoon and I was pretty excited.
The following afternoon, I meet Lil Phat and his father as they pulled up in a fresh off the lot XJ(that’s a Jaguar) with a track from his mixtape bumping pretty loud. Lil Phat and Mel opened their doors to exit as the smell of some very potent greenery protruded out of the automobile. I introduce myself and give them both a hand shake. In an interesting turn of events, Mel not only offers me a cigarette which I kindly declined (at the time I was strictly a Marlboro 72 man) but Lil Phat.
He was 16 at the time.
I won’t get into a lecture of bad parenting but things got progressively worst the next day when I watched a rough cut for a promotional video that was currently being edited for Lil Phat. In the video, he talked about his life on the means streets of BR and why he was “clutching” while banishing nine millimeter for the camera. For those who aren’t in the know, “clutching” is a street term for holding a semi-automatic pistol.
Again, he was 16 at the time.
That same day, Lil Phat came to the office with a pretty big and bold tattoo around his neck that was still a little bloody. So bloody that it stained his freshly white wife beater a little. While don’t remember exactly what it said, people around the office thought it was pretty cool. I on the other hand, found it really tacky.
Remember, he was 16 at the time.
After completing the bio (which I don’t believe was even used) I really didn’t do much but show up to the office and hang out. I would eventually stop showing up all together. Those couple of days would haunt me after hearing word of his death last week but I had one question on my mind.
Where were his parental guidance?
When it comes to his father Melvin Vernell, it’s a tragic episode of like father like son.
Around that time, Melvin along with Trill Ent’s co-founder and president Marcus Turk Roach were accused of shooting up the store of local rapper Beelow for allegedly selling bootleg copies of albums from the label’s artists. Beelow was shot and bullet holes still adorn his “Shop Smart Music and Fashions” store though the times I’ve visited the store, it seemed like a front for some type of drug oppression.
Think about it, what type of fashion store has just one pair of jeans hanging on the wall? But I digress.
The duo would eventually be sentenced to two years of probation for battery (beat that T.I.) but all of this has led me to this point.
Mel’s street life was an influence on his son that ultimately lead to his death. You would think the son of label that was worth millions at it’s peek would try to steer away from that lifestyle but most importantly, where was his mother?
I guess that’s a philosophical discussion for another time.