“The reason I was fired was because I pissed off a lot of white people, because they thought only blacks got arrested for drugs,” insists Melton, who often catches young kids with joints in their car, but opts to destroy the small quantity rather than arrest them over $10. “I arrested a lot of white dealers in meth houses and white people who got impunity for years, while the black street kids were getting busted for years. I can deal with the black kids in another way. But the 50-year-olds who are feeding them have to be dealt with severely.” After losing that title, Melton used his popularity among citizens believing in his stance on crime and drugs to run for mayor. He ran a balanced campaign that appealed to both rich whites intimidated by the presence of drug dealers and the poor and underprivileged. He also won over the Hip Hop community by speaking to the Mississippi Artists and Producer’s coalition (M.A.P.), an organization founded by local artists including Kamikaze, Tony B., Azziatik Blakk and Donnie Money. He went on to win the election and was inaugurated into office in July 2005 after defeating Jackson’s first black mayor, Harvey Johnson, Jr. Though he promised everything from lowering crime rates to boosting the economy, Melton’s time as mayor has been nothing but controversy.
department. J.P.D. made the shoot a hassle, harassing crew members and even lured Nitti into getting arrested for disorderly conduct on the spot. Eventually, Batman wound up in jail again too. About a year later, the Wood Street Players had a show scheduled with rap neighbors 601 Playas on a rival’s part of town at Club Soups. Already reluctant to do the show, Donelson spotted a rival and “one thing led to another.” “I was on stage rapping. All I remember is people shooting and people running, so I took off running,” says Donelson. “When I got to my car, they arrested me and another guy named Roger Taylor, who is a confidential informant now.”
read about his dispute with ex-con/rapper Albert “Batman” Donelson.
Batman says that despite the police’s failure to match gun residue with his weapon, he and Taylor were both charged with aggravated assault because of that night’s incident where one man was shot three times in the back. Donelson made bail that night. The cloud of trouble did not disappear. Donelson was preparing to do a show in Hazlehurst, MS no more than a week later and was arrested again. This time, cops came to Donelson’s house demanding to know how he got out of jail so fast. Donelson provided proof of posting bond, but not without a heated exchange, which he to this day calls a dumb mistake. Feeling provoked, the officers switched into attack mode and began a search on the premises. They found a weapon on an associate of Donelson, who claims the cops pinned on him to charged him with constructive possession of a firearm by a felon. He served five years, but during the sentence, he continued to be charged with crimes by Mayor Melton.
“When I used to see him on TV I’d pray, ‘Man, I hope he never gets on me,’” says Donelson, who became a frequent subject on The Bottom Line. “I wasn’t doing anything that no one else wasn’t doing. I never had any contact with Frank other than seeing him on TV. Everybody else he’s called out had some kind of contact with him. But, one day, I guess my name came across his desk. You see the name ‘Batman’ and newspeople can latch onto that.”
“They use terms like ‘gang boss’ loosely in Jackson when they really want to demolish a person,” says Donelson, who has had a handful of murders pinned on him by Melton, while he was locked up in jail. Melton has also posted up on Donelson’s mother’s doorstep with a shotgun in response to supposed death threats. “You should check your facts,” Donelson spits. “[Melton] calls me a drug dealer but he’s never caught me with any bricks or anything like that.”
Batman was originally known as a member of the Wood Street Players, your prototypical independent Southern rap group who did what they had to do to pay for studio time, CDs and video shoots. Their name pays homage to the notorious Jackson street that is home to the usual crimes you find in Inner City, U.S.A. Originally comprised of Donelson and Willie “Frank Nitti” Hardge, and later adding B.I.G. Bigalow of Reese & Bigalow fame, the Wood Street Players released three albums between 1993 and 2000. The group’s founders found their passion for rapping during a jail stint in the early 90s where they’d find themselves battling each other in the cell blocks. Jail was a constant during the span of their rap careers. Both members went back to jail in 1995 after the release of their Jacktown Playaz album, got released, put out a second album, Turnin’ and Burnin’ in 1997, and went back to jail. By the time they dropped their third album Rules of the Game in 1999, they had a big enough name to land a deal with Sony. They had a video shoot for a single, “Life Ain’t Easy,” that was both the talk of the town and the Jackson police
Donelson feels that Melton’s obsession with him and Wood Street stems from the shooting victim supposedly being the son of a close friend of Melton’s. He charges that Melton has faulty sources to trump up charges on him and enforce the vendetta. In a 2006 interview with Jackson Free Press, Melton admits to being obsessed with the Wood Street Players, but for another reason. Melton revealed that the infatuation began in the late 80s during his tenure with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, when he came across a videotape of 16-yearold Reginald Versall. Believed to be a beating victim of Wood Street, Versall was found lying dead behind a house with maggots coming out of his head.
A simple Google search will give you pages of information ranging from him tearing down suspected drug houses with sledge hammers to pulling over school buses on the freeway just to give hugs to the kids on board. You’ll also
“It’s not the police who are watching my back, it’s the guys on the street.” - MAYOR Frank Melton
64 // OZONE MAG
“It is a damn vendetta. Forget what people think, I’m telling you myself,” says Melton, who feels guilty for not being able to reach out to Donelson when he was still a teenager. “I know for a fact he took those people’s lives. He may not have done it himself, but he ordered that it be done. I have probable cause, witnesses and six dead bodies.”
Ozone Mag #65 - Mar 2008