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Wednesday, Apr 17 1996
Born Free
As a voice-over extols the virtues of Snapple being America's third most popular soft drink company (behind Pepsi and Coca-Cola), the camera cuts to a parade scene in San Diego. There, atop a lavishly decorated parade float, stands San Francisco's own WAMMIE-winning lounge singer Bud E. Luv, bottle of Snapple in hand and belting out a modified chorus from "Born Free" with characteristic panache: "Booooorn Three!" That's right: The inimitable Mr. L has been chosen spokescrooner for Snapple's new "Threedom=Freedom" campaign, and thanks to the Spike Lee-directed spot, the Luv light is shining from coast to coast. "They begged me," Luv says. "The president of the Snapple Corporation called me directly. They said they needed the best lounge singer in the world -- and they got him!" And, yes, the Budster is as much of a Snapple fan off-screen as on. "My favorite flavor would have to be their Lemon Iced Tea, but I've got to admit, it's a little sweet," he divulges, "so I take their plain Iced Tea and mix it half and half -- it's the perfect balance." According to Luv, he's already pitched the idea of marketing the hybrid as an official flavor. Potential name? "Bud E.'s Brew," of course.

In the latest drama surrounding Andre Hicks (aka rapper Mac Dre), who is currently in Lompoc Federal Prison serving a five-year sentence for conspiracy to commit bank robbery, the incarcerated rapper was incorrectly pronounced "out of prison, back in Vallejo" in a headline that ran in the Feb. 18 edition of the Vallejo Times Herald. A day later the red-faced newspaper learned of the error and ran a correction. Mark Mazzaferro at the paper's news desk said that it was actually the Vallejo cops who spread the word.

"[The police] took time to put out a press release. Can you believe it?" asks the rapper's exasperated mother, Wanda Salvatto. "Even now, while he's still in jail serving his fourth year for a crime he didn't commit, they are continuing their harassment because it's really a personal vendetta against him for writing that song." The song in question is "Back N Da Hood," which was recorded live over a jail phone shortly after Dre's arrest. "Every court date they keep detainin' me/ On punk-ass charges they keep arraignin' me/ At first I thought I'd have to spank you but Detective Nichelman I'd like to thank you/ You put me on the news and tried to spread that lie/ Then record sales jumped to an all-time high," Mac Dre raps.

Nichelman gave Samples a terse "No comment," but he told the Times Herald, "How do you allow a guy to do a record for profit when he's in custody? But he did it over the phone somehow and it sold several thousand records. I have a tape at home. ... It'll be interesting to see how he fits back in the mainstream."

"That'll be nothing new since the Vallejo police have never stopped following me and harassing me," Mac Dre says in reference to the series of events that led to his arrest in 1992. He says both the Vallejo police and the FBI believed him to be part of the Romper Room gang, which had committed a rash of pizza restaurant robberies that were featured on the Unsolved Mysteries TV show. Mac Dre says that one of the reasons the cops linked him with the crimes was that his former production company was called Romp Productions.

In response, Dre wrote a song titled "Punk Police." "In court they used the lyrics and made it seem like I was teasing them for not being able to catch me and my homeboys, and they made it seem like I was the one orchestrating all the robberies," Dre says. "I was framed and convicted of conspiracy for a robbery that never even happened and that I had absolutely nothing to do with anyway!" Mac Dre's official release date is Aug. 2.

By Tim Kenneally, Billy Jam

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