The St. Lunatics crew had been a fixture in its native St. Louis since the early '90s, scoring regional hits and continuing to develop its unique Midwestern spin on the Dirty South dynamic. But while they had secured management and a major-label deal, nothing materialized until the multi-platinum success of Lunatics member Nelly's 2000 solo effort. The margins of Country Grammar had been filled with guest shots from the Lunatics, including Murphy Lee. His style was in keeping with Nelly's little-bit-country, little-bit-city flow, but he stood out with a more nasally sound, and raps that were somehow wordy and laid-back all at once. With their name established on the national scene, Murphy Lee, Nelly, and rest of the St. Lunatics dropped their official debut in June 2001. Free City was a hit, but not of the caliber of 2002's Nellyville. The latter album was another phenomenal success for Nelly, and featured Murphy Lee on a few tracks, including the strong Roc-a-Fella collaboration "Roc the Mic" and the fun hit single "Air Force Ones." Murphy's profile received another boost in June 2003, when he joined Nelly and P. Diddy for "Shake Ya Tailfeather," the inescapable single from the Bad Boys II soundtrack. That momentum carried through to autumn and the arrival of his debut solo album, naturally entitled Murphy's Law. The set featured "Tailfeather," as well as the Jermaine Dupri-produced first single, "What da Hook Gone Be." Murphy started 2004 strong, sharing in a Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group Grammy nod for "Tailfeather."
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