The Murder of Yella Boy

Albert “Yella Boy” Thomas was murdered in New Orleans on April 5th, 1997. Yella Boy was 22 years old. Thomas’s group at the time of his death was U.N.L.V (Uptown Niggas Living Violent) Raw violence was a thread that ran through Yella Boy’s music, and his life until his abrupt end.

Thomas was shot in the head, and found dead in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans.

Cash money owner Bryan Williams aka Birdman, and Mannie Fresh produced “U.N.L.V” the trio formed by Lil Ya (Yaphet Jones,) Tec-9 (Jermaine Stines,) and Yella Boy (Albert Thomas,) they were the first group signed to the Cash Money label.

You can’t tell the story of Yella Boy without first talking about Michael Tyler aka Mystikal. Telephone book-thick tomes could be written about the conspiracy theories that abounded back in the mid to late 90s New Orleans rap scene over Mystikal’s beef with Yella Boy

There are dozens of hip hop message boards, blogs and even dusty old listservs with thousands of posts relating to the two rappers’ feud.

In 1996, Drag ‘Em “N” Tha River, a track off U.N.L.V’s fourth LP Uptown 4 Life started seeing heavy play in New Orleans. Yella Boy’s boasts about what he was fixing to do if he caught Mystikal out were razor sharp:

You fake cheerleadin’ bitch! You want a nigga like me to beware, ha?
I’ma show you some spokes right now, you bitch you

Of course Mystikal had the comeback:

I’m ’bout to lay you young big mouth punks down
Without your pillow, you won’t save Mystikal no’ mo’
Somebody said that you were looking for me…

Mystikal in Back From The River

In a video Mystikal breaks the origins of the beef down succinctly. Way back when, he had a song Y’all Ain’t Ready Yet where he boasted

Matter fact I’m a tell you mother fuckers three things I’m a never do
One : never gonna change my style
Two: never gonna bounce, three: never gonna bow

That was his response to Eddie Bow, a 12″ by U.N.L.V that was a minor dance hit in the New Orleans clubs in 1993.

He followed that up with Here I Go

Stop walking the one way to a fucking dead end
Bitch you yellow
Coward hearted, better bring some water
Kick the gasoline can over
Get this fucking fire started

That one got U.N.L.V spoiling for a fight. That’s when Drag ‘Em “N” Tha River dropped.

On that same video interview, Mystikal spoke of driving around Uptown New Orleans where he would occasionally run into Yella Boy, and they would hop out of their cars for some macho posturing. “I mean nothing ever came of it…we never shot at each other, no shit like that” He then claims that on one occasion Yella pulled out a gun during one of these encounters and he (Mystikal) fled.

Did Mystikal have Yella murdered? It’ll be booze-soaked bar talk for at least one more generation of New Orleanians but let’s move to another favorite widely discussed theory.

Cash Money Records owner Brian Williams aka Baby aka Birdman had Yella killed after Yella humiliated him by pistol whipping him and shooting up Williams’ pick up truck over unpaid royalties.

A Baby song titled What Happened To That Boy supposedly references Yella’s murder:

What happened to that boy?/He was talking shit we put a clappin’ to that boy.

“You know how New Orleans is with the wards, if you from Downtown and you get caught Uptown, you can get killed.” Yella Boy’s bandmate Lil Ya speaking on how rough New Orleans was when U.N.L.V were coming up.

So who killed Albert Thomas? The case has been long-forgotten by the New Orleans Police Department, who have investigated 4,227 homicides since the year Yella Boy was shot down.

If the Vegas bookmakers were laying odds I suspect they’d favor Terrance “Gangsta” Williams, Baby’s half brother. He’s in the penitentiary after being given a a life-sentence “plus 240 years for ‘continued criminal enterprise’ and ‘conspiracy to commit murder’ on June 24, 1999.

He was a member of the Hot Boys, not the rap group, but a gang of stone cold street assassins. Their motto? ‘We don’t bust raps we bust caps.’ The other members of the clique are all dead, and rumors circulate from time to time that ‘Gangsta’ is ready to talk for a possible reduced sentence.

Will we ever find out what happened on that street in Central City on Saturday April 5th 1997? If we do it’ll be front page, above the fold news in the morning Advocate. Just bring up Yella Boy’s name at a corner bar in Treme or 3rd Ward on a busy night and you’ll have people gossiping like it happened last week.

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