Joseph Wayne McVey, the rapper the streets know as Z-Ro, is in trouble again. The "King of the Ghetto" has a trial date next Monday at the Harris County Courthouse for felony drug possession, stemming from a February 2009 Harris County Sheriff's bust. Police allege that McVey, 33, was in possession of a codeine mixture weighing more than 28 grams but less than 199 grams, including adulterants and dilutants. This case came about two weeks after McVey was busted for misdemeanor pot possession and later found not guilty after taking the stand in his own defense at trial. "The jury believed him when he said he didn't do it," Robert Jones, McVey's attorney, tells Hair Balls. "He's a very honest, forthright person." However, the supremely talented rapper/singer was convicted in 2003 on another codeine charge, for which he eventually spent a couple of stints in prison after violating his probation. Another conviction could spell years behind bars. Jones says his client is innocent of this charge. He says authorities found a bottle of pharmaceutical cough syrup in a bottle with someone else's name on the prescription in the back seat of a car in which McVey was riding. Asked for what possible sanctions the rapper could be facing if convicted, Jones was unsure. And he thinks that after all is said is done, the prospect of punishment will be moot.
"Right now, the penalty has been enhanced, so I would have to look that up to see what exactly that is, but I anticipate that he is going to trial because he didn't do anything, so the penalty is zero," Jones laughs.
Though set for Monday, Jones anticipates that the trial will be delayed, as he says that DA has reindicted McVey for the same offense. "They're trying to ramp up the charges and make him scared so he'll take something," he says. "It is nothing more than a form of intimidation. It doesn't change the facts of the case at all."
Z-Ro, also known as Z-Ro the Crooked and the Mo City Don, escaped a tragic and hardscrabble youth on the streets of Missouri City's Ridgemont area to become one of the most musically and lyrically talented rappers the Houston area has produced. Though his fame is mainly regional, songs like "I Hate U Bitch" (with its video recorded in an Orange County prison) and "The Mule" have won him effusive praise in publications like The New York Times and our sister paper the Village Voice, whose former columnist Tom Breihan declared him an "unsung hero of Southern rap" along with Memphis's Project Pat.
Jones knows little of his client's musical exploits, but seems genuinely impressed with McVey the man. "Everybody who knows his music has told me that he is a purist," Jones says. "And he's just an honest, forthright person. If he did it, he'll say he did it."
And McVey is saying he didn't do this....Let's hope the jury agrees.