"They Convicted Me Over Lunch Break": A Closer Look at the Case of Big Lurch

November 2002—Antron Singleton is sentenced to life in prison. He is accused of cannibalism and charged with murder and aggravated mayhem. Singleton puts his back against a cinder wall with no room to wiggle. He became forever pegged as a man-eating, drug infested, naked monster. Better known as Big Lurch, the Texas native was en route to a potentially fruitful, legitimate rap career. He worked with the likes of E-40, Too $hort, Lil Keke, and Mystikal, while also receiving cosigns from Death Row—not a resume to scoff at. For whatever reason he took accustom to the Bay Area and New Orleans scene. He had record deals under MCA and Black Market Records. Originally from East Dallas, Big Lurch is a southern man with no if's, and's or but's about it. His name is no coincidence either. He stands at 6 and half feet tall with lanky limbs, braided hair, and inconspicuous reading glasses depending on the time and the place. His pseudonym is said to be inspired by Lurch from The Adams Family; a borderline mythological sized figure with Frankenstein like qualities. Big Lurch stands the same way. He is towering and slender with an implied brute physical capacity when paying mind to his build alone.

The public could not care less if he were at 6 and a half or 4 feet. If he were from East Dallas or Port Arthur. Nothing lingers more potent than the idea that Big Lurch is a cannibal. The story goes that he murdered his roommate Tynisha Ysais while high off of PCP, and then proceeded to gnaw on her organs—skin, lungs, and anything fleshy in the way—and left her like roadkill. I am in no position to formulate an absolute arrival to a verdict. I do, however, continue to stumble upon readings and reports that throw a bit of a wrench into the consensus' story, or even redefine it.

It seems fair to say that the biggest variable here is the usage of PCP. Whether you call it PCP, sherm, dust, wet, or whatever, the drug has a knack for breeding horror stories. It usually ends in nudity, extreme hallucinations, psychotic behavior and other rather malevolent tendencies. To some, these symptoms are viewed only as an extremity. In all fairness, most people who use do not have the intentions of going on a zombified, nude, cannibalistic rampage. They actually believe it to be an enjoyable, or at least a mind numbing, sedative. This is crazy to me I'll admit, but there aren't cases of Joe Smith doing PCP in his room and having a relaxing trip on the news that are broadcasted how the case of Big Lurch was. While I consider the drug as reckless and downright scary, I can acknowledge the fact that there are enough people out there that only share positive experiences with it, to which a vulnerable individual can make it seem alluring.

Big Lurch's music is pretty straight forward, but it can vary slightly in theme and style. His size is evident through his voice. Throughout his catalogue he maintains a relaxed, almost limp, delivery with a flow pretty hip to the times for the pocket of the industry that he came up in. He has introspective moments where he digs deeper, as well as times where he boasts about getting high or threatening people that cross him. He can also dip into horrorcore like qualities, or maybe things more hypnotic. He doesn't wear much of a gimmick though. There's never much of a trait in his looks or actions that point to being a manic drug addict. On his only official studio album It's All Bad, Lurch does not dive head first into brags of PCP use, but it reveals itself. It would be unfair to say that this is an album about PCP, but when you sift through critic response and their portrayal of his songs, it feels like they're telling you he would not have made this album if it weren't for him being high off PCP.

Big Lurch's one and only studio release, Texas Boy (2004)

This is due in part to what may be his biggest solo song "Texas Boy". Big Lurch raps:

"You fucking around with some niggas that's high off of formaldehyde
That zude the bang, sooths the brain before I do a hit (I'm already)
From the land of the wet cigarette"

A clear allusion to smoking PCP or another variation of it, this track became a staple in vernacular when the jury was out (literally) on Lurch's murder case. The lyric easily reads as a brag, as if he were showing pride in how many beers he can slug or how big of a blunt he can smoke. In his second verse he goes on to say:

"I'm in this game heavy boy (already)
Quick to gut ya with the machete boy (already)
Rocking up cocaine and selling weed
The devilish mischievous child, the bad seed (I've already)"

These are not good looks in the court of law. A large part of the defense against him considered the content of his lyrics—not a tactic shy to hip-hop artists and court cases. What seems to have gotten lost in the controversy of "Texas Boy" is the happenings behind it. In September of 2000, a day after his 24th birthday, Lurch was involved in a collision faulted by a drunk driver. It landed him hospitalized with a broken neck, laying in a bed that can fit his tall frame. After being discharged from the hospital he still felt pain when walking. He self medicated, and this is when he mingled with PCP. As aforementioned, the drug is unfortunately and shortsightedly used recreationally or with the intent of sedation. In certain Mid-Atlantic and Southern cities especially, it is sold as an alternative to more widely abused benzodiazepines, opioids, and drugs of that effect.

It is also no mystery that "Texas Boy" and "I Did It To You!" are his most well renown songs. Their content speaks volumes as to why they are leeched to his legacy as an artist. The latter has a hook that goes:

"Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson
And all of your friends I'm finsta school ya"

I include these lyrics to be forward about what is out there on wax, but also to shed light on what the court saw as evidence. These lines were an arm in what had him successfully tried and committed. Big Lurch was working in a marketplace crowded with edgy lyricists, each one trying to outdo the other with outlandish and grotesque rhymes. Graphic, and at times drug-induced, horror film-like lyrics don't inherently put an artist in the spotlight. In fact, in the late 1990's/early 2000's they can get you lost in the shuffle. Geto Boys and Gravediggaz publicized what is considered horrorcore better than anyone before, while artists like Lord Infamous and Brotha Lynch Hung obtained success in the sub-genre similar to Lurch. Rappers like Jayo Felony were explicit in sharing their PCP habit; his song "Sherm Stick" (with an amazing dramatic R&B adlib that moans 'Sherm Stick') is arguably his most popular. Even still in 2018 you have ZillaKami and SosMula taking their usage to the big screen, as they can be seen smoking sherm sticks at the end of maybe one of the most stressful, chaotic hip-hop videos of all time, "13 Shinners". Artists like James Brown and Mac Miller are said to have dabbled as well. Point being, Lurch was not an isolated drug riddled delinquent who fell victim to a liking to the drug, in fact many others in his industry were friendly with it.

Intentionally smoking PCP is indefensible, but do not misconstrue it as an inherent act of terror. Big Lurch's one and only studio album, It's All Bad, can make it out to seem that way. Perhaps not the album itself, but its aura and the way it was promoted. "Texas Boy" and "I Did It To You!" are slam dunks for his most well known songs. They are the only songs in which the lyrics are well documented, the only songs with substantial streams and internet buzz, and currently the only songs made available for purchase on certain platforms. Excuse the momentary loss of sight for an objective view, but they are certainly not the best songs on the LP. The closer, "Can You Deal With This", and the fourth track, "Gimme Your Love", show a more organic side of Lurch. He discusses women of interest, thoughts on society, the system, and other topics that weigh on him. Quite frankly, no songs on the album were marketable, radio-ready ballads that deserved the outlying attention like "Texas Boy" and "I Did It To You!" yielded—that is relative to the rest of the songs they were allotted with. In fact, the LP should really be listed as a compilation. It was released in 2004, years removed from his first day in prison when he became a number in the system.

One of his most famous photos, bizarre in setting yet quite nice to the eye.

The project was handled by Black Market Records and Stress Free Records, the former being a label with a history in these shifty timed releases. In 1992, Sacramento rapper X-Raided was sentenced to 31 years of prison (he was actually just released about a month or two ago) and had his album released by B.M.R. while serving his stint. X-Raided was charged with murder for a gang-related home invasion, eventually resulting in the murder of an opposing gang's female relative. According to X, he was blindsided with the news of the murder, and the lyrics and cover to his album were used as evidence against him, a la Big Lurch. I do not know the fine print concerning the personnel of these cases, but Lurch has stated his label's owner served as his lawyer as well. The man was Milton Grimes, a lawyer who played a part in both the trials of Rodney King and OJ Simpson. His allegiance has always laid with his thirst for media and celebrity status, as opposed to his passion for the practice.

Big Lurch's album—a staple throughout the case—consisted of songs recorded throughout a span of years, and was in-evidently compiled by the label due to his status at the time of its release. Many of his lesser known songs were recorded prior to his 2000 accident with a drunk driver, and say nothing about a love affair with PCP. Many of them do not even dip their toes into violent or lewd content. The two tracks made most well known were recorded after the car accident and the drug habit triggered by the painkillers he was prescribed thereafter. Big Lurch may not only have been victimized by the court of law, but also the monster that is the music industry. It's All Bad, as well as X-Raided's Psycho Active, could have been milked for their controversy, both of which capitalized on voiceless, imprisoned artists with compromised leverage to royalties and shares of the sales.

Lurch's criminal case has its holes and curiosities as well. According to his statements in the Rhyme and Punishment—a KRS One narrated documentary dealing with rappers hammered by the hip-hop police&mdas; there is no proof that he executed the murder. Plenty of retellings neglect the fact that this was at a party in a dopehouse in an L.A. neighborhood operated by gangbangers that he befriended as an out-of-towner. Most retellings label Tynisha as his girlfriend, either for lack of research or to juice it up even more. Either way, it is incorrect. Another nugget that gets lost in translation is that he did not supply or initiate the use of the PCP. Obviously peer pressure is not in legitimate conversation for a man in his mid-20's, but according to Lurch it was practically bottle fed to him. Him being a former user in a social setting, the vice was too attractive. In all reality, if Lurch had a well groomed image with respected kin and community ties, and this happened in a frat house, the first order of business would be to find out who sold the PCP and why. Instead, paying no mind to any of the sorts, Big Lurch became the perfect whipping boy. As he put it so perfectly, "They convicted me over lunch break". The trial was short changed, lasting barely an hour.

Milton Grimes seemingly had a reservation of his own to make as well. He directed Lurch to plead insanity, a mechanism that is invalid in the state of California; when drugs are at play the plea comes off the table. The court of law does not allow for it. Grimes either knew this or should have known it. Lurch also claims Grimes did not even allow for him to look his Sunday best. You would think that when he was found nude and disheveled that Grimes would provide him with something decent to wear, but instead had him "...Looking like Hannibal Lecter" as Lurch recalls.

Tynisha Ysais was found cold and mangled at the scene of the crime. She was barely recognizable with a filleted face and a chest cavity spread open like a mollusk. Her body was branded with teeth marks, appearing to be feasted on like a dead gazelle. Besides teeth and man power, weapons of choice included blades and even a foldable razor scooter that struck the back of her neck. The fingerprints found on these weapons were not matched up to Lurch or anybody else, and thus conveniently omitted. The blade that was snapped and broken off in her shoulder blade, a tough feat especially with a short 3-inch knife, was never matched to any person in particular. Lurch was depicted as naked and smothered in blood, as if he were wearing a red morph suit or reenacting Carrie. Instead, the photos that exist, along with the testimonies of those who claim to have witnessed him soon enough after, saw a blood smear on his chin and slightly on his chest.

Big Lurch photographed after the crime. 

While further examination found his digestive track to contain pieces of Ysais's lung, her mother Carolyn Stinson continues to defend Lurch to this day:

"I don’t believe he did that. I believe he was probably off on that PCP and he tripped, he saw that piece of lung lying on the floor and he probably figured it was a piece of meat or whatever."

Sure, this statement feels unnaturally mild for a mother speaking on the loss of her daughter, but when accounting for the rest of the situation it becomes more real. Stinson believes it was a set up. The drug den, trap house, however you want to frame it, was left empty, aside from Tynisha Ysais's body. Everything that the residents and the partygoers stored there, from the guns to the narcotics to the dogs were all gone, and most importantly the people. Mrs. Stinson had more to say concerning the particulars:

"There was evidence … footprints, fingerprints on doors … bloody finger prints … a shoe at the backdoor … and it’s like where’d all the evidence go? It was [DNA], who’s DNA was it? They said the DNA came up lost.”

Why would they only legitimize the evidence connected to Lurch and turn a blind eye to the rest? Unfortunately, it is simply because he was the only one at the scene. The gang members fled with no allegiance to Lurch. The court didn't see them to be worth the manhunt. Their relationship with Lurch was likely bound by mutual interests and hobbies, as well as taking a flyer on the chance to mooch off of his secondhand success. Their true colors were exposed when given the chance, as they saw him as a scapegoat and jumped on it. They may not even have stopped at leaving him stranded, but also to feed him chunks of her flesh and organs—the ones found in his system afterwards. This seems all the more likely when considering that investigators found an unrealistic amount of liquid PCP in Ysais's system. It was a dosage that a human simply cannot manage, not to mention it was ingested as a liquid while the drug is designed to be smoked, usually through soaking a cigarette. These are all factors that have convinced Stinson that Lurch did not murder and eat her daughter.

Lurch also claims that the teeth marks were not even concluded to match his own. The whole case was blown over like it was deciding the verdict on a parking ticket. The evidence and lazy law practices preyed on a jury that was probably drilled with his most graphic lyrics, the flesh found in his stomach, as well as the mental image of him running the streets naked. While everything surrounding the case reeks of injustice, the greatest injustice is the respect and effort that the case was given. Lurch and his alleged victim's mother stood no chance in that court of law. They were handicapped, facing a general population who showed little sympathy for drug users, hip-hop artists, or black men. They spent minimal time in making a decision that so dramatically determined another man's fate, probably more consumed with their plans for the evening. They saw the case as a gimme, a no-brainer. Big Lurch was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole over lunch break.