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POP MUSIC | POP EYE

Mack Set-back

June 01, 1997|Dave Jennings, from London

British hip-hop star Mark Morrison's "Return of the Mack" is currently one of the hottest songs in the U.S., but now it's uncertain whether he'll be able to travel to the States to promote it. Morrison will apparently be stuck for up to three months in London's notoriously tough Wormwood Scrubs prison after pleading guilty to charges of possessing an offensive weapon and being found guilty of using threatening words and behavior. And that could prove a barrier to his getting a visa to the U.S. and other countries.

Morrison, who has several prior offenses on his record, was sentenced on March 14 in a case that was front-page news in Britain's national tabloids. Morrison had been arrested in October by a plainclothes police officer who saw him in line at a supermarket playing with an electric stun gun that he had illegally brought back from the U.S. Morrison scuffled with the officer, who claimed that the singer tried to use the gun on him during the struggle--something Morrison denied.

Morrison's attorney, Colin Nott, pleaded futilely that a jail sentence would severely harm Morrison's career both in his image and his ability to obtain travel visas for concert and promotional tours.

"It's always going to be more difficult to get visas to go into places like Japan, America and other areas in my client's situation," Nott told Melody Maker.

In England, though, promotion will continue. Looking toward Morrison's freedom as early as the end of June, given time off for good behavior, Warner U.K. Chairman Rob Dickins quipped to the British trade magazine Music Week about Morrison's upcoming singles, "We will have a series of releases, the first of which will be Mark himself."

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