← Back to portfolio
Published on

Rapper finds fame not to his liking

David "GuTTa Mann" Rhone just wanted to be discovered.

But not like this.

His first hip-hop release attracted the attention of U.S. Marshals rather than the intended music producers.

On Wednesday, the 23-year-old Dubuquer was arrested after appearing in a YouTube video containing shots of what appeared to be guns and drugs and had him rapping lyrics like "I run this city," and "Be scared."

Although the video's producer says the song "GuTTa Town" is harmless, the Dubuque Police Department remains unamused.

"The last thing we want is to have people who have been convicted of criminal activity toting around guns and participating in activities that we're trying to fight every day," said Dubuque Police Lt. Scott Baxter.

Rhone was arrested on the charge of violating his terms of supervised release, which, according to court documents, could include anything from possessing a firearm to associating with any person engaging in criminal activity.

He was sentenced in March 2007 to 37 months in a federal prison for the transfer of an unregistered sawed-off rifle and possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of controlled substances.

Rhone's mother, Stacy Rhone, said her son is a "good boy" who just made "poor decisions."

"He's always wanted to sing, and this was his chance to make it big," she said. "He's not against Dubuque or anything. The only thing gangster about him is what he's seen on TV."

Stacy is one of more than 9,600 people to watch the video "GuTTa Town Feat. GuTTa Mann."

"I thought it was a nice video, as far as the rapping and the acting goes," she said. "I'd occasionally hear him throw around some tunes, but I didn't know he was so good."

Still, Stacy said she was not surprised when her son was arrested.

"He had a prior arms charge, and then that video just wasn't a pretty picture, as far as guns go," she said. "But he wouldn't dare have any real drugs and guns and put it on the TV and say, 'Hey, look at me.'"

Baxter said police received countless calls about the video.

"This is one of the more substantial amounts of complaints we've had," he said. "This isn't what the average law-abiding citizen wants to see in their community."

The link to the video was e-mailed to the police, and Baxter said officers "immediately" recognized Rhone.

"We knew he'd been released from federal prison," he said, "and we've received information in the past that would indicate these individuals in the video did have past gang affiliations or ties to gangs."

For now, officials have not determined if the guns and drugs were fake, and in one sense, Baxter said, it doesn't matter.

"The important thing to remember is that sometimes perception might as well be reality," he said. "We have had a lot of people call in scared, asking if they're in danger because there are these men standing in front of Dubuque's City Hall, showing guns, saying they're going to run this city."

Stephen Harrison, the video's producer, said the reactions are ridiculous.

"We made the video in Dubuque because that's where GuTTa lives," he said. "We would have done this in New York, France, Haiti or wherever. We don't want to run Dubuque. I like Dubuque. It's a nice town. I don't want to scare people here."

Although Harrison and some of the other men appearing in the video have criminal backgrounds, he says they got involved in hip-hop to provide a legitimate way to earn a living.

"We shouldn't have put the fake guns in or used baking powder as drugs," he said, "but that's what rappers do in their videos, and we thought it looked cool. Now we see that some people are taking it seriously."

For now, however, Harrison said two questions remain -- whether the judge will take Rhone's case seriously and whether a larger audience will like Rhone's music.

As to the first matter, a judge will hold a detention hearing on Monday, April 12, to determine whether Rhone will remain in the Linn County Jail until a revocation hearing , which will determine whether he returns to prison.

As to the second, Baxter offered an opinion.

"It's not on my iPod, I can tell you that much," he said.