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"A lot of people from here and there claim it," Lewis says. "It's personal."
The attack changed Tone. "It made him more leery to watch his back more and always be looking out for people," Spencer says.
Tone, however, didn't miss a trick. His next album included a photo of him in his hospital bed flipping the bird.
"It's called keeping it real," Wayne explains. "If you're rapping about it, you have to be about it."
The streets will quickly out a rapper who doesn't live the life he riffs about, he says. "In underground music, what the streets say goes," Wayne says. "But I don't want you to get the idea you have to be a robber to sell CDs."
But it helps.
The success of both Rich and Tone went gun and holster with their reputations as legitimate gangsters.
"People are more interested in somebody that has a name," says Walter Zelnick of City Hall Records, a Bay Area distributor that handled Mac Dre's CDs. "Who's ever heard of Fat Tom? Nobody."
Byron Robinson, owner of Much Music and More, an urban music store at 12th Street and Brooklyn, says 108 rappers put out albums in Kansas City last year.
"One hundred eight rappers, but you only got, honestly, two rappers people are really into," Robinson says.
And Tone may have been on the verge of something great. He had traveled much more often over the past year. He'd been to Dallas, New York and Las Vegas.
"It was getting ready to go," Wright says. "He was happy about it. He was worn out, but he was happy."
Whatever his street life entailed, Tone had shown an ability to switch gears when he was talking business.
And he was eager to learn about the music business. "He paid attention to what you said," 7th Heaven's Fichman says.
"Always to me, he was professional," Wayne says. "I think Fat Tone could have been the person to catapult Kansas City to a major deal.... If he could put that other shit behind him, his heart and mind were going toward making it in music."
Then Mac Dre came to town.
He'd been here often. Mac Dre had gotten as much out of the Bay Area-Kansas City connection as anyone. He even rapped about it on Tone's first CD. KC niggas like me, he says over and over in his high-pitched whine.
"He had a great time out there. People loved him out there," Zelnick says. "KC outsold Seattle or Portland."
In the early 1990s, Mac Dre did time for conspiracy to commit bank robbery. But his rapping persona was not as hard-core as his gangsta-rapping colleagues.
Mac Dre injected humor into the art. He parodied the politics of the 1980s on a CD titled Ronald Dregan -- Dreganomics. On the cover art of his latest CD, Da U.S. Open, Mac Dre, his thin legs poking from tennis togs, poses as Andre Macassi.
"I don't recall him rapping about killing or shooting anybody," Wayne says. "He rapped about partying and having fun."
The Thizz Man, they called him, after the slang term for Ecstasy, his psychoactive drug of choice.
His last weekend in Kansas City was a nonstop party.
On Friday, October 29, he made an appearance at Much Music in advance of an evening concert. He was signing autographs and selling CDs and DVDs.
"There was a line from this door wrapping around my building," Robinson says.