If you live in St. Louis you probably know the song "Shake Ya Tailfeather" by Nelly, Murphy Lee, and P. Diddy. Now Murphy Lee, 37 and his brother Kyjuan, 39, are breathing new life into the song, in an unexpected way. They’re launching the vape juice line, Vape Ya Tailfeather.
“In the music industry I think somehow if you pay attention to your surroundings, you become a marketing genius,” said Lee. “You know how to sell it because you are the brand.”
The brothers launched their vape juice line (the substance used in vaping, an alternative to cigarettes) this year. This Saturday, they’ll host a grand opening for their own vape lounge in St. Charles. The brothers use lessons learned selling albums and concerts to grow their new entrepreneurial endeavor. They said they’re hoping to take the branding and marketing skills learned as musicians and apply it to the growing $3.5 billion vape industry.
Initially they weren’t interested in cashing in on the decade-old song’s recognition for their new project. But a friend in the industry, Justin Price, hammered home the marketing possibilities. They conducted their own informal focus group and the response was immediate.
“People loved it, I didn’t know the reaction, how it would be, but every time we talked with someone in the vape world they went crazy for the name like, 'Oh, yeah, oh yeah, that’s it!'” said Lee.
Both Murphy Lee and Kyjuan view vaping as a healthy alternative to smoking cigarettes. For them it aligns with a healthy lifestyle the brothers have embraced for 17 or 18 years. Both became vegan after talking with an acquaintance about the health issues that come from eating “flesh.” After the discussion, the brothers returned home where they’d just grilled dozens of wings and couldn’t get themselves to eat the chicken. They say they view the shop and their vape line as a chance to do good in the world.
“We’re in it to save lives,” said Lee, “and with us coming as entrepreneurs and international recording artists we’re going to bring more people and get more people aware of what’s going on.”
The validity of this claim is still being debated. Some studies show that vaping may be connected with respiratory issues while others indicate that vaping causes fewer problems than traditional cigarettes. As one doctor and professor told BU Today, “The question is: Does safer mean safe?”
The brothers were first introduced to vaping through their mother. A lifelong smoker, she used vaping to quit the habit. Kyjuan said he talks to his mom more since they both got involved in vape culture.
“It stopped her from smoking, and we had tried it all: breaking cigarettes, not buying them, hiding them, patches, pills, everything, gum, so when she stopped doing it with vape it really hit home,” said Kyjuan.
As the brothers turn their focus toward this new pursuit, the rest of the St. Lunatics continue other pursuits.
City Spud: After creating music and rhyming on Nelly’s multi-platinum album "Country Grammar," Spud spent nine years in prison for first-degree robbery and armed criminal action. The musician was released in 2008 and is currently making music.
Ali: Currently lives in St. Louis and still functions as president of Derrty Entertainment.
Nelly: Nelly has continued releasing music, including his recent appearance on the country song “Nellyville,” in 2015.