Aspiring Chicago rapper's story becomes an internet legend.
High hopes, hip-hop hustle, hamburgers and heroin are the disparate and intriguing elements that make up the fantastical tale of Tyshaun Granger.
The enterprising moxie displayed by the aspiring rapper, the grave injustice that befell him and the fact it all turned out to be utter baloney saw the Chicago teen go viral earlier in the week, becoming an instant urban legend.
Like most legends, especially internet ones, the story is hopelessly confused. Fact, fiction and fabrication have been jumbled together and thrown down the click-through rabbit hole of internet news sites that rewrite news from other internet news sites.
After exhaustive clicking I've ascertained that Granger's story first appeared on local news channels in Chicago before being rewritten for the Huffington Post. From there Huzlers, a satirical news site, got hold of it and the story took off.
So what's it all about?
Tyshaun Granger was a young man on the grind, dreaming of hip-hop stardom. Dreams are free but living expenses ain't. So as well as rocking the mic he also rocked the counter at McDonald's. Working 9-5 has a way of stifling creativity but Granger found an ingenious way of merging art and profession.
In a brilliant and inventive display of genius guerrilla marketing he began replacing the kids' toys in Happy Meals with his own CD.
"Would you like phat beats with that?" is what I like to imagine him saying as he covertly slipped his Tales of a Real N*gga album into the brightly coloured Happy Meal boxes.
Granger distributed his CD via Happy Meal for two weeks before getting busted. I can't imagine kids being happy to find a CD of his "thug-rap" in their Happy Meal instead of a shiny new Despicable Me 2 toy.
Now, I don't know how many Happy Meals are sold in two weeks, but I imagine it's a lot. Meaning there's a lot of his CDs in the Chicago area. This fact led the highly respected audio recordings database Discogs.com to attribute catalogue number 'hm001' to Tales of a Real N*gga, listing it as being released on the "McDonald's label". Brilliant.
Once management was alerted to what was going on they had two choices. One, promote the young burger flipper for showing industrious gumption, or two, fire him. They opted for the latter, giving Granger the McBoot and birthing a legend.
After discovering this story on Twitter I thought it was fantastic. And yes, I believed it. Why wouldn't I?
It sounded completely feasible and totally embodied the underground hip-hop attitude and determined grind for success.
I applauded the rapper's hustle and wondered how many other inspirational stories like his were out there. Where, in the face of soul-crushing reality, artists subverted the system to get their creative efforts into the hands of the people.
I wasn't wondering for long as almost immediately after learning about Granger news broke about a rapper in New York called Prince Harvey.
Now this dude had been busy working on his own album. Things had been going well until his laptop was stolen while he was in Chinatown buying squid - a marvellous detail I'm super stoked wasn't left out of the story.
Despite his name, Prince Harvey is not a real prince. Instead, he's a broke rapper who didn't have insurance and couldn't afford to buy a new laptop. The guy wasn't just back at square one, he wasn't even on the board.
Embracing the spirit of the grind, Prince Harvey didn't slow down. Instead, he walked into the Apple store in SoHo, Manhattan, sat down in front of a demo laptop and began remaking his album.
Five days a week for 16 weeks he did this, either emailing work-in-progress tracks to himself at the end of the day or hiding them in the laptop's Trash folder.
Again, I applauded the determination and outside-the-box thinking. Harvey's finished work is out now, it's called PHATASS (an acronym for Prince Harvey at the Apple Store: SoHo) and you can check it on his Soundcloud page.
I haven't been as successful finding Granger's Tales of a Real N*gga anywhere. Most likely because it doesn't exist. Because Tyshaun Granger himself doesn't exist.
The photo that's accompanied the story worldwide is not one of an enterprising young rapper who defended his actions by claiming his CD was "so hot" it would keep a Happy Meal warm for hours. Rather it's the police mugshot of Theodore Levon Upshaw, a drug dealer now in prison for selling heroin in the McD's parking lot.
It's a sad end to the true tale of the real guy behind the fake tale of the fake guy who, for a brief moment there, really achieved his dream of global stardom, thanks to little more than some hustle and some happy meals.