Prisoners at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola aren’t allowed to record albums or songs, but that prohibition does not seemed to have silenced inmate No. 00556633.
Corey Miller, a rapper known as C-Murder who is serving a life sentence for killing a teenage fan in a Harvey nightclub in 2002, released a video for a new single last week, and his management told The Huffington Post on Monday that the album “Penitentiary Chances” will come out in April.
The video for “Dear Supreme Court/Under Pressure” features an actor in a red baseball cap and sunglasses playing Miller in partial close-ups. Other than a quick exterior of a penitentiary, the setting is a cell, though it’s actually just a set.
The voice is said to be Miller’s, but the production team would not tell The Huffington Post how it was recorded.
The Louisiana Department of Corrections began looking into how Miller managed to record material from behind bars in January, when reports of a new album first surfaced, spokeswoman Pam Laborde said Tuesday.
Miller was questioned by prison officials and claimed not to have recorded anything while at Angola. He insisted that any material released by his record company was recorded before he was incarcerated, Laborde said.
However, the lyrics and video for “Dear Supreme Court” appear to have been conceived of after his conviction.
In the song, Miller professes his innocence and asks the state’s high court to release him, alleging that his trials were rigged and jurors were paid off. At one point, he imagines that if he were released, he could persuade inner-city criminals to lay down their guns.
The video includes shots of people holding signs in front of the state Supreme Court building that say “Justice” and “Free C. Miller.”
Miller has a formal request for a new trial pending before the Supreme Court. That request, which alleges a juror was pressured to vote to convict him and says two new witnesses will testify that Miller wasn’t involved in the killing, was denied by a state appeals court in late 2015.
Miller was convicted in 2003 for shooting 16-year-old Steve Thomas during a brawl at a Harvey nightclub, but a state district judge ruled prosecutors withheld information about the criminal background of a witness and granted Miller a new trial. He was convicted again by a 10-2 jury verdict in 2009.
After that conviction, Miller pleaded no contest to attempted second-degree murder for trying to shoot a Baton Rouge nightclub owner and a security guard in August 2001. He was given 10 years concurrent with his life sentence, with credit for time served.
According to his Wikipedia page, Miller has released at least four albums while in jail, though it was not clear how many of them were recorded during the time he was in Angola.
Laborde said Miller refused to take a polygraph test and investigators could find no conclusive evidence that the recording took place at the prison, though she said the investigation remains open based on the comments in The Huffington Post article.
Laborde also noted that inmates aren’t supposed to have social network accounts, but that several tied to Miller have been quite active lately.
“The department regrets that the victim’s family (and much of the public) cannot be spared from this,” Laborde said in a written statement. “However, it appears that associates of the offender are responsible for content on these pages, and it is very difficult for investigators to remove the pages.”
Thomas’ parents declined to comment.
“Dear Supreme Court” is not the first time Miller’s commitment to his art has run afoul of his jailors.
A music video Miller made while in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in 2005 drew the ire of then-Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee.
In that case, Miller, who was in the Gretna jail awaiting word on his request for a new trial, rapped into a tape recorder held by his attorney, Ronald Rakosky.
Two TV crews, one recording a segment for Court TV and another for a local cable-access show, were allowed to film in the jail, and footage of Miller rapping along with the lyrics popped up in the video for “Y’all Heard of Me.”
Rakosky told The Times-Picayune at the time that it was his idea that Miller get back into rapping in order to stay productive while awaiting a new trial.
Rakosky and the camera crews said they had no idea how the footage of Miller rapping in prison made it into the video.
Lee responded by refusing to allow any other film crews to interview Miller and forbidding Rakosky from meeting with his client with anything other than a pen and paper.
Miller and Rakosky, however, apparently are on the outs now.
In “Dear Supreme Court,” Miller says his lawyer failed him and “kept asking me for money.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on March 30, 2016 to note Dear Supreme Court’s production team declined to tell The Huffington Post how the song was recorded.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.