The murder of Anthony Watkins, aka Fat Tone, made perfect sense, at least to his fans.

Tone Death, first of two parts 

The murder of Anthony Watkins, aka Fat Tone, made perfect sense, at least to his fans.

Page 4 of 9

Still, she acknowledges that Anthony gravitated toward a group of boys in his grandparents' neighborhood who claimed to be gangsters.

Anthony went so far as to tattoo an elongated 5 on one beefy forearm and a 1 on the other.

"The gang, they started when Anthony first started rapping," she says.

Again and again, Tone would break the Dr. Dre rule of gangsta rap: Never do what you sing about. But for Tone, lyrics and life were linked.

"He raps real life," Wright says. "Every rap Anthony has made is real. This is the way we live."

In 2001, as he was turning 20, Tone scraped together some cash and went to California. What the Bigga Figga had done for Rich, a Sacramento rapper named Daniel "Killa Tay" Curtis would do for Fat Tone.

Tone came back with his first CD: Killa Tay Presents Fat Tone, The Vett. Now Tone had that California glow and the status and burden that came with it.

"That gave him immediate credibility," Lewis says.

But what Rich had made look so easy was actually hard work. Now Tone had a reputation to live up to, and he had to earn money to look the part.

"Rich the Factor was more of a John Gotti," Priceless Diamonds says. "Tone was more live wire ... more flamboyant. Tone would rub it in your face."

"He had money, and he liked to show you he had money," Jameshia Spencer says.

She says the two of them hustled to distribute Tone's first CD. They went on road trips to Wichita, Columbia and other nearby cities and towns to promote his music, passing out posters and selling CDs from the trunk.

Tone's reputation preceded him, and Spencer's friends questioned her choice. "People were like, 'Why you messing with him?'" Spencer says. "I'd say, 'He's good to me.' Then I found I was pregnant. I was like, 'Oh, my God.' I just stayed with him."

Spencer says Tone supported her and the baby, Anthony, who is now 2. "He didn't even want me to work," she says. "I've never worked at all."

But devoted family man wasn't quite the image Tone cultivated. His lyrics were a degree more violent than Rich's.

I'm a Vett! frothed Tone to start "Natural Born Killa," the first song on his first CD. Two two threes to the chest/Should have worn your vest/That's how it is when you fuckin' with a killa from the Midwest.

The "veteran" of the streets suffused his albums with stories of violence. Track after track recited tales of shootings and vengeance. He vowed that his enemies would be ran over, walked on for fuckin' with Fat Tone.

"He's a street guy," Lewis says. "Fat Tone was into robbing drug dealers."

Some of his former associates say he wasn't as tough as he claimed in his music. They say his rap personality was stolen from the likes of other 51st Street gangsters.

One of them, Rashawn Long, who is serving time for murder, tells the Pitch that he resents the way Fat Tone made himself sound tougher than he was.

"Loud-mouth, cry-baby ass," Long says, describing the young kid who first began showing up at his grandmother's house. "He was a shit starter. His mouth got him in a lot of shit, so he was always getting ran up out of the neighborhood and [would] go lay low [at his mother's house]. He ran [to her], let the shit die down, came back and apologized."

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