Rapper Frank Lucas Jr. was running late for the release party for his new single, “Street Star,” last week at the Plumm. If his name rings a bell, it’s because his father— also on his way to the soirée—was a legendary figure in the Harlem drug trade, recently made famous by Denzel Washington in American Gangster.
The minute Frank Jr.’s posse walked in, filling up half the club in the process, all hell broke loose. The staff was running to and fro—they couldn’t find the DJ. It was a chore getting past all the security, hangers on and friends, but Frank Jr. was eager to talk. Despite thug-life attire—his eyes are covered in wide sunglasses, and a pulled down puffy baseball cap—he’s a friendly guy. “Nah, I didn’t grow up in Witness Protection, but I might as well of,” he said, “despite my family’s criminology, they had integrity, these days a Harvard graduate will steal a hundred dollars off your floor.”
I noticed he was gripping a mic, and thought he might start rocking it and cut me off, but he went on dropping knowledge. “You can be a gangster and sweep the streets/ Will you be mad at me if I knock the king off his thrown?” I smiled, thinking he was waxing rhetorical, but he had just asked me a question, “will you get mad at me if I knock the motherfucking king off his thrown?” Nah, man. “Cool,” he grinned and gave me a pound.
A DJ pulled a record back and let it rip, “Cuz I like money, bitch!” Jay-Z’s voice announced as another crew, twice as deep as his son’s, including papa Frank Lucas rolled by. Literally. You see, Lewis is in a wheelchair. “He’s a very bad man,” my friend whispered a little too loudly. Junior went over from his corner to pay his respects Corleone style, and bent down to hug his old man. As I was thinking about the throne comment, a sad-eyed white guy in a rumpled suit shuffled over to me and asked, “Do you want to talk to Frank Lucas?” Fuck yeah. It had all the solemnity of being led to see the pope. Hey man, big fan, what do you think about your son’s music? Frank smiled.
“What do you think about it?” His burly manager leaned over to interject, “Frank’s just overwhelmed, he pays back society through his kids.”