Grammy-winning rap artist attends SEMO online

Saturday, September 18, 2004

St. Louis rapper Murphy Lee is off to college -- at least electronically.

Lee, who shared a 2004 Grammy for best rap performance by a duo or group for "Tailfeather," has enrolled at Southeast Missouri State University.

Currently, Lee is enrolled in six credit hours of online classes, including criminal justice and political science classes, and would like to pursue a business degree, said his publicist, Jane Higgins.

While he is taking online classes, Higgins said Lee will be on campus on occasion and has expressed interest in attending the university's homecoming celebrations between Oct. 28 and 31.

"He wants to be there because its his school now," Higgins said.

Finding the time to attend homecoming, however, might be a problem for Lee.

"He's working on his second album right now and was asked to do a swing-state tour in October for the Democratic Party," Higgins said.

According to Higgins, the 22-year-old Lee has been thinking about returning to school for awhile.

"When he came to me and said, 'I want to go to school,' I said 'here's the deal -- people are going to be watching your grades.' He said 'yeah, so am I.' He's very serious about this," Higgins said.

So serious that, according to Higgins, Lee has been catching up on homework aboard airplanes and while backstage at MTV's "Total Request Live."

The rumor that Lee would be enrolled at the university has been going around the school for several weeks, showing up on the university "Rumor Mill" Web site on Sept. 5.

Kimber Miller, a junior at the university, said she has heard rumors about Lee's enrollment for a couple of weeks now and was very excited when she found out they were true.

"I thought it was pretty cool," Miller said. "I'll definitely try to hang out here more this semester."

She also thinks it could help put the university in the spotlight.

As for Lee showing up for homecoming, Miller said she thinks it would definitely create some excitement on campus. And while there are quite a few people who know Lee's name and not his face, Miller said "I would think that even if you didn't know what Murphy Lee looked like, you could tell it was him. He'd have the quote, unquote 'bling.'"

Fellow junior Daylen Brown said most students would likely know who Murphy Lee is, especially because many students are from St. Louis, Lee's hometown.

"There's been a rumor," Brown said of Lee's enrollement. "But it sounded unrealistic."

Tasha Saulsbury, a junior, said she does not think Lee's enrollment will have much effect on the university because he is not taking classes on campus. When and if he does come on campus, however, she has a request.

"I just want him to sign a couple of posters in my room," Saulsbury said.

Lee was part of the original St. Lunatics from St. Louis that also included Nelly, and was featured on a few of Nelly's solo recordings.

Lee's first solo album, "Murphy's Law," debuted in 2003, featuring "Tailfeather" and "What da Hook Gone Be."

The Associated Press contributed to this story

kalfisi@semissourian.com

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