The story of No Limit rapper Andrew Jordan, known as either Skull Dugrey or Skull Duggery, is not an especially happy tale to tell. At first the New Orleans native seemed to have an upward trajectory. After appearances on the Down South Hustlers compilation and Silkk the Shocker’s solo debut, Johnson got his own chance to flex with the album “Hoodlum Fo’ Life” in 1996. His was not a release designed simply to appease a contracted artist who wouldn’t be happy forever doing cameos. No Limit clearly believed in his star potential and supported his debut LP to the fullest. Beats By the Pound and Master P oversaw the production. P and Silkk made cameos along with Ghetto Commission, Southern Type Soldiers, and resident Tank crooner (or if you prefer Nate Dogg knockoff) Mo B. Dick. Everyone was behind Johnson being the label’s next breakout star.
The gruff rapper even coined a new term for getting high — “we smoking that moss everyday.” If you listen to the G-funkulations of “Moss” it’s really hard to imagine that Skull Dugrey didn’t hit it big in a major way. He certainly had the sound of credibility on tracks like “Bring It On,” where he branded himself the “Gulf coast hoodlum, down South hustler, swamp moss smoker, bring it on! Bring it on!” It can be argued that Dugrey’s raps were 40% about the bars, 30% about the vocal tone, and 30% about his sheer force of personality. In other words his rhymes aren’t the greatest thing since sliced bread, but he’s not embarrassing himself on the mic (and some No Limit rappers certainly did), and when I heard the “Drag Rap” come in during “Bring It On” I was satisfied with his bounce music credentials.
I said at the outset that Skull Dugrey’s story wasn’t a happy one, and you might be wondering why after I’ve had nice things to say about “Hoodlum Fo’ Life” so far. The first problem is that the album died a miserable death after its release. Over a quarter of a century later the album has still not moved more than 200,000 units combined. Those would be impressive numbers for any independent rapper moving physical units in today’s digital era, but back then if you couldn’t at least go gold you were doing something wrong. Furthermore the interest in the album ever breaking that mark seems to be non-existent. New copies aren’t being printed, used copies aren’t available, and that leads us to the REALLY problematic thing that needs to be discussed about Andrew Johnson.
The “Deadly Thoughts” of Skull Dugrey proved to be his own undoing. In 2011 he was sentenced to six years in prison for what police found on his laptop during a raid of his home, and while that was clearly the most serious (and gross) charge he was also in unlawful possession of weapons and controlled substances as a previously convicted felon. That’s right — the No Limit rapper who once said “don’t get caught slippin'” knew what he was talking about. He had plead guilty on nearly the exact same charges back in the late 90’s, so he could complain about the “Crooked Ass Cops” all he wanted to, but when you have what he had on his hard drive he knew exactly what he was doing and what he was in for if he was caught. I really don’t want to go into any further details because it’s so fucked up.
The charges he copped a plea for the first time around didn’t derail his career, mostly because I think people didn’t even know about it (there was no TMZ back then, let alone Gawker or YouTube). He maintained for a little while, and his sophomore album did marginally better than his debut, but either because of his sentencing or his lack of success (perhaps both) No Limit cut ties with him before his third or fourth album. Their performance makes “Hoodlum Fo’ Life” look like a major win by comparison. If he had any hopes of a comeback in the 2010’s, his second guilty plea undid all of that, and he passed away in 2022 so this sad story ends here.