The song has a sputtering hi-hat, a booming bass line, and a haunting piano riff. The lyrics are about hustling on the streets of south Seattle, selling cocaine, packing a pair of .380 pistols, and making rap music better than the rest of 'em. But among the nonstop braggadocio, one line stands out in hindsight: "When you look me in my eyes you see a coldblooded killer."
The song is titled "The Doe Coy," by Doe Boy, better known by his given name, Ondrell Harding, and that boast is particularly chilling because last Tuesday, Harding was arrested in connection with the real-life coldblooded killing of 51-year-old Anthony Matthews.
Harding, 21, stands accused of bludgeoning Matthews to death in his south Seattle apartment during an argument on the morning of Saturday, July 23. Both Matthews' wife and son told Seattle police that Harding choked his victim, hit him with a chair, and eventually pummeled him to death with his bare hands, according to a probable cause statement released by King County Prosecutors.
Harding, whose brother Kenneth was killed recently in a high-profile incident involving San Francisco police, was released yesterday
after posting $500,000 bail*. Dan Donahoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecutor, says charges are pending while police continue to investigate.
If they are looking for incriminating statements, detectives might want to start with the many online profiles Harding created for his hip-hop personae, Doe Boy.
On his MySpace page, Harding says in his bio that he has been "fulltime gang bangin and hustling" since he was in the sixth grade. He says he was raised on the "rough streets" of West Phoenix, Arizona, and that his "father was constantly in and out of prison and his mother was very active in the streets doing whatever it took" to take care of him and his younger brother.
The cover art for Ondrell Harding's mixtape
He moved to Seattle with his mother at age 13, then back to Phoenix in 2003. He writes that in 2005 he ran away and was homeless for a stretch. "Just like every other thug in every hood across America he was young black and just didn't give a fuck," the profile says.
Harding writes that "he had left the music alone for a while and focused on more important things to him at the time, which was keeping money in his pocket, weed to smoke and a gun on his waist." He says that he was inspired to make music after he won $3,200 in a dice game and bought 10 pounds of weed.
Harding says he signed a "distribution deal" with San Francisco-based SMC Recordings in 2009. An SMC spokesperson did not immediately return a message seeking information about the label's affiliation with Doe Boy (sometimes spelled D.O.E.Z. Boy), Harding's rap alter ego.
The music, which Harding himself characterizes as "the most gangsta shit to ever come outta the state of Washington," seems mostly to come from his release The Olde English Mixtape. It is quintessential contemporary hardcore rap, with some tracks featuring a more mellow R&B flavor. The subject matter chronicles Harding's travails on the streets. He touts his prowess slanging blow, his fondness for marijuana and malt liquor, and his willingness to get violent. He even has a track titled "I Will Kill a Man."
Here's a selection of some of the songs, via Harding's Reverb Nation page:
In the grand tradition of gangsta rap, all the greats from NWA to Snoop Dogg have glorified gunplay and bloodshed. But where many artists cultivate an ultra-hard stage persona and are law-abiding men in real life, Harding apparently walked the walk in addition to talking the talk. The probable-cause statement from King County Prosecutors lists the offenses on Harding's rap sheet as "prior assaults, narcotic offenses, escape." In 2008, he was convicted of brandishing a knife at a convenience-store clerk who refused to sell him beer.
In a rambling video on his MySpace page, Harding recalls how he got arrested for the knife incident. Holding a half-drunk bottle of Steel Reserve malt liquor, with a young girl romping in the background, Harding delivers a profanity-laced tirade about how his getaway driver ratted him out when police came knocking after a witness took down the license-plate numbers of their car. Harding says he was "hiding out in the studio for like three weeks" recording songs while he had a warrant out for his arrest.
Nevertheless, Adante Pointer, a San Francisco attorney who represents the Harding family, told the <em>San Francisco Chronicle that Harding's rap act was a "social commentary" and not based on reality.
Harding's younger brother Kenneth was also an aspiring musician who went by the name Gangsta Rich. According to Pointer, Harding's mother says Kenneth was on his way to meet with representatives from SMC Recordings on the morning he accidentally shot himself in the neck during a foot chase with San Francisco police.
*Post corrected @ 2:21 p.m.: Because he was not charged, Harding did not have to post bail. He was simply released.