WASHINGTON – A song on Jay-Z’s new album may be named after one of America’s most popular fashion designers, but it name-drops one of the District’s most notorious gangsters.
As noted by The Washington Post, the song “Tom Ford” off the new album “Magna Carta … Holy Grail,” contains the lyrics below referencing convicted killer Wayne Perry.
Hands down got the best flow, sound I’m so special
Sound boy burial, this my Wayne Perry flow
Y’all know nothing about Wayne Perry though
District of Columbia, guns on y’all Tumblrs
So what does Jay-Z mean by this D.C. mention?
On the website Rap Genius, a self-described “hip-hop Wikipedia” that allows users to write annotations on rap lyrics, a posting speculates that Jay-Z is implying that most rap fans don’t know much about life on the streets. The posting also interprets Jay-Z as saying his “flow is murderous like Perry was” and that Jay-Z “is saying that if anyone asks, you know nothing about him. You saw nothing.”
“It’s another comparison to Perry, who went free for 20 years because everybody was afraid to say anything about him. He was notorious for killing off witnesses,” says the posting written by users MagnaCartaHolyWhale and SuperLupe.
“It’s my understanding that Jay-Z and his folks don’t like Alpo Martinez,” says McCabe, who writes on his website that Martinez, the head of a major drug ring that operated in D.C., Virginia, Maryland and New York, employed Perry as one of his hitmen.
McCabe says Perry and Martinez had a falling out after Perry was arrested and charged for eight murders in D.C. He later pleaded guilty to five of the murders and received five consecutive life sentences.
“Martinez basically snitched on many people, while Perry did not,” McCabe says. “That’s my understanding that (the mention of Perry) was a jab at the Martinez people.”
On McCabe’s website, he details Perry’s turbulent times in D.C.
According to McCabe, Perry was born in Southwest D.C. in 1962. After spending some time at Woodrow Wilson High School in Northwest and Randall High School, he was kicked out of the school system for beating a baseball coach with a bat. He also robbed a bank at the age of 16.
In 1989, Perry became involved with Martinez, for whom he pushed cocaine during the height of the crack epidemic in D.C.
“His reputation is the Michael Jordan of the murder gang. Basically, if you were in D.C. and were in the drug business, gang business, you knew Perry and you knew not to mess with him,” says McCabe, who adds that Perry sometimes slept in the yard of the person he was going to hit, just to make sure he didn’t miss his target.
According to McCabe, Perry avoided becoming D.C.’s first death penalty case in 1971 when he was brought in for a 27-count indictment.
Perry is currently in prison in Colorado. McCabe reports he has since changed his name to Nkosi Shaka Zulu El.
“Everybody knows Jay-Z and most people, 99 percent of America, has never heard of Wayne ‘Silk’ Perry,” McCabe says. “Perry has plenty of street cred, but this will get him some more notoriety and people can look at what happened in the late ’80s and ’90s here in D.C.”
WTOP’s Rachel Nania contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.