Can’t Knock The Hustle, The Chronicles of A True Hustler, Pt. 1

I never idolized drug dealers. Their way of life seemed too risky and way too dangerous. I do deeply respect the few that I know. And I know a few. Seems like the ones I knew the best were filled with an incredible sense of wisdom, a clear sense of mission as to why there were here on this planet and what they had to accomplish before they left this life. I most definitely met a lot during my career in the music industry. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the one’s that made the successful transition from working the streets to becoming successful execs in the industry are the few people who continue to make good coin today. The honest way. It did take me by surprise a few years back, when one of my closest friends and former housemates from law school decided shortly after graduating from Georgetown Law that he would forego a career in law in order to hustle drugs. And not street corner slanging either. Because of his credentials, my dude placed himself in a position where he was able to move some serious poundage during the early 1990’s. Even lent me the seed money needed in order to start my law practice back in 1995. Good dude. Eventually, he got busted and did time twice, first state, then federal. Shared the fed time with his twin brother who graduated from Columbia University and was on his way to med school. It felt good to pay him back, and then some, once he got out from doing his bid, like maybe the money I paid back would help him get back on his feet. Crazy shit, but no embellishment.

Which brings me to my dude “T”. T is an upstanding citizen of the community. Brooklyn homeowner, married to an accomplished writer, a father and an extremely successful real estate agent. Top exec in New York’s top real estate company. Member of the block association even. Dude moves brick and mortar like nobody’s business. I met T a couple of years back, when my wife and I were on the market for a home. T was real patient, extremely forthcoming with information, especially because I was intimidated by all the things I didn’t know about real estate, me being a potential first time homeowner. As we got to know each other better, his kids playing with mine, his wife bonding with wifey, dude began to share some things about his background. How he was from out west by way of San Francisco, how he grew up in an extremely disfunctional family, with a father who was a pimp, sometimes dope dealer and full-time drug addict, a mother who became strung out on heroin at the age of 17, how most of his uncles and aunts were drug addicts who had died of drug overdoses, one dying of aids because of his affinity to the needle.

Some real heavy shit, but whenever T shares his experiences with me, it’s never coming from a place of “check my street cred stats” machismo bullshit, it’s more like dude is reflecting on the worst aspects of his upbringing with a sense of appreciation as to who he is today, the hurdles he’s had to overcome in becoming a successful businessman, husband, father, human being. Almost like he gets this big joke about life and is somehow trying to let me in on that joke. There’s no glamorizing or glorification in his words.

T eff’s with the Combat Jack blog heavy, and has started writing some of his experiences as an exercise in expression, in growth, in strengthening his skills as an writer. As much as he enjoys doing what he does, selling homes to those that can afford one, he does not want to become complacent in becoming just one thing. I’m really honored that my writing has inspired him to write more. Recently, he’s begun to share with me some of his writings. In reading some of his work, especially with regard to his memories as a young kid growing up in the streets of S.F., I was blown away by the things he’s lived through and how he’s been able to make it over to “this” side. In a sense, his experiences are inspirational to me, in helping me to overcome the challenges that I face on an almost daily basis. I’ve asked him if he would allow me to share with you pieces of his “memoir”. T gave me his blessings, and I promised him I would do my utmost best in bringing his words, his story, his life to you. I truly hope that I do this man’s history justice. If what Shawn Carter raps about is true, Jay-Z ain’t the only one that dabbled in crazy weight and survived the “game”.

That being said, I proudly bring to you, in the words of T, The Chronicles Of A True Street Hustler, Pt. 1

Looking back on my life, in hindsight, I’m able to recognize that some of the worst things that have happened to me were some of the best things that happened to me. Growing up in Hayes Valley, better known as “Death Valley”, I received strict “professional advice” as to what my career options were at a very early age. Around the time that I was 4 or 5, my father and my mother’s brother, my uncle, would often lecture me on the only two choices I had to look forward to when I grew up. “Niggas round here grow up to be either a drug dealer or a pimp, you need to figure out what you gonna be early, before you get twisted up in some bullshit. Don’t ever forget that shit T.” My pops used to drill that shit into my head relentlessly. He came from a family of pimps. Through my father, I learned that one of the best ways for pimps to keep their women on a tight leash was to get them strung out on drugs, on heroin, and as soon as possible. My mother met my father when she was in high school. Fell in love with him. By the time she was 17 years old, she was addicted. I don’t know if she was using when she was pregnant with me or my younger brother, but I knew she was an addict, and for a very long time. Eventually, my father became an addict as well. My younger brother and I soon were left to be raised by a drug addicted single mother. At the time, I understood these things that I lived through to be normal, and as hectic as shit was, I was content in my extremely fucked up conditions. Maybe that’s because that was all I knew.

By the time I turned eleven, I decided to choose drugs over the family business, I decided that I would become a drug dealer. With mom’s zoning out on her highs, I felt I was old enough to earn a living and keep food on the table for my younger brother and me. Although I got first hand training in the skin trade, I wasn’t much into pimping. Maybe I was turned off by pimping because I grew up watching my mother catch regular beatings from my father. My brother and I never intervened, but when the beatings were over, we’d look after moms, cleaning her up, consoling her they way she should have been able to do for us. When I finally shared my decision as to my profession to be with my mother, she was very supportive. So supportive in fact that she sat me down at the kitchen table in order for her to instruct me with my first lessons in selling drugs. She started off explaining to me that she loved me very much. That because she wouldn’t always be there to take care of me, she would show me how to hustle to make money so that I’d always be able to take of myself. She said “remember, no matter what, you’ll always have a hustle to fall back on.”

And the lesson began. She went in her room and came out with a huge bag filled with marijuana. She placed some of the marijuana on the kitchen table. “This is a quarter-ounce of weed,” she said. “It weighs 7 grams, plus the sandwich bag makes 8 grams all together.” She continued, “Never pay more that fifty-dollars for a quarter and never, ever let me catch you selling anything for anybody else. Only hustle for yourself.” I listened to her intently. After emptying the weed into an empty shoe box, she took a small pair of scissors in one hand and some weed in the other. “This is how you break it down.” She snipped and crumbled the quarter into a fuzzy green mound, removing the few seeds and stems along the way.”See, now you have to let it dry out a bit. It’s heavier when it’s wet and sticky, you’ll end up over stuffing your bags. When it dries out, it will fluff up and fill out the baggies more.” I nodded as if to affirm her observation, not having a clue of what she was talking about. She took a baggie, stuffed it and placed it on the table between us. “This is what a ten-dollar bag should look like. Now, bag up the rest of this weed and make’ em all look like this one. ” I followed my mom’s orders like a good son. I figured out that rubbing the baggie between my thumb and index finger

made them open easily. The weed felt crisp and crunchy between my fingers, and it’s skunky aroma wafted up into my nose, made my mouth water.

Moms returned about a half hour later, “8 bags”. “Not bad,” she said. “But your bags are too fat, you”re giving money away, nigga. Take some weed out of these two and get one more bag out of ‘em.” After a couple of more turns of breaking down, packing, weighing, after my moms felt I was getting the hang of packing weed bags the right way, efficient and economical with my servings, I felt I was ready to hit the streets. My moms introduced me to one of her, one of my father’s connects. I felt grown, extremely pleased with myself and the responsibility that I was readily assuming. My next step though, was to figure out how I was gonna survive the streets. See, niggas in my neighborhood started gang banging heavy, and I wasn’t yet down with any gang. I had to get my shit “affiliated”. There was no way I was going to place myself out on the streets of a war zone, alone at 11 years old and with no muscle.” Fuck that! I need to get my muscle game up and intact.



23 Responses to “Can’t Knock The Hustle, The Chronicles of A True Hustler, Pt. 1”

  1. Robbie Says:

    Having to decide if you want to pimp or push at 4 years old is effin’ tough. I was still trying to decide who my favorite Star Wars action figure was!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    this is beyond tragic, but what a strong testimony! He should be telling this story not to us but to improverished children that only see one way out!

  3. DMon Says:

    This is amazing. ‘T’ should put this in a novel form and not give it out for free. Youth could definitely benefit from your wisdom brother. I see it everyday in the developments here in Roxbury(MA), choices are made and lives are changed forever.

  4. Anonymous Says:


  5. Golden Wombat Says:

    Good piece there. A bit of an Iceberg Slim feel to it. I like the idea of serializing it too. Kudos!

  6. Dove Says:

    I agree with DMon – give us a taste, but put the story in a book. Even more good legal money 🙂

  7. A-King Says:

    Sadly enough, it’s still going on. The babies are at risk. Anticipating part 2.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    i don’t get how on one hand, hiphop makes a fuss about how the CIA floods the hood w/ heroin and crack (a suspect theory in the first place), and then turns around and glorifies drug dealers like these guys who bring serious violence and sickness to their communities are some kind of heros who deserve to be respected. i got more respect for my garbage man who is hard on his grind making money in a way that is ethical and responsible. u need to get out of your juvenile reality, and start thinking like a grown man.

  9. Vee (Scratch) Says:

    POsted 4am.
    COmbat Jack is up and working.

    Cool post so far.

  10. geico lizard Says:

    Its sounds crazy but you have parents not talking about kids going to college or getting a job but being a pimp or a drug dealer. I also want to know which profession his little brother chose when he was old enough.

  11. Combat Jack Says:

    ^ Unfortunately, his brother got caught up. There’s a major investigation going on now with him involved.

  12. sqiub23 Says:

    the variety of content on daily mathematics is refreshing
    *awaits part 2*

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Combat Jack I have been enjoying your information thanks to FabFiveFreddy from Twitter. Unfortunately, this guys story is the norm. I have dated guys and girls whose mother pimped their male children to sell drugs and the females to sell their bodies. This is a very real epidemic and no one is listening but maybe there will now.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Waow Combat Jack !
    I’m a brother from Paris, France and I’ve been reading ur blog for a while but this is just GREAT !
    Keep up the good work!

  15. QuantumPeach Says:

    Agreed, this blog is fantastic. it is by far the best i have ever come across. nothing pretentious, gossipy or judgemental; just some “real talk”. Much appreciated. Keep it up!

    on another note, I applaud “T” for putting this out there for “free”. if these stories are to reach the impoverished youth, why would he attach a fee? furthermore, this seems like his therapy, at least that is what i got from Jack’s intro. Lets just sit back, tune in, illustrate with our minds and pass this story on to those who really need it.

  16. Abe Beame Says:

    This has a lot of promise as a series, someone above said this story is all too common. I concur and it’s great to have one person step out and relate their experience in detail. For anyone else who has been to SF in the last five years, take a step back and appreciate how absurd it is that Hayes Valley, the whitest of the white middle class enclaves in the city was once referred to as Death Valley and was filled with gang bangers. You should see it now, like Fort Greene infused with a shot of wheat grass juice. One thing I will say with all due respect is I’d hold off on what seems to be the random generic google image search pics, kind of distracts from the narrative which is already plenty illustrative. Great shit all around though more please.

  17. BUKKA BUKKA Says:

    This is like a story from the 90s..haven’t we all heard this stuff before?

    Maybe if the writing is on point I’ll stay tuned but right now my verdict is this could go either way [||]

  18. esteeminatti Says:

    Encouraging expression. The story sounds the same because we all share the same struggle to exist. Reading is an exercise in which one hears one’s own voice. Through that we may learn to analyze, discern, and reason. T’s story, your story,and my story can all be used to help that next one of us who needs to pursue change. When niccas rhyme, are they REALLY saying anything different than the next emcee? You still love to hear that shit though. Combat Jack, preciate ya, homie. T, I’m looking forward to pt2.

  19. Throwback music Says:

    I’ll be tuning in, but this is a sad story that is still happening today. We aren’t giving our kids a chance in this world when he expose them to this stuff “T” went through. He made it, but how many others didn’t?

  20. M Dot Says:


    Reminds me a lot of the Jim Jones’ play…And I always heard that Real Estate was a former dealer’s legit ‘hustle’…

  21. Rae Says:

    This is amazing. It reminds me of a lot of the brothers I grew up with.

  22. BEsmirched Says:

    Great Pilot… someone needa give u guys a book deal. look forward for more

  23. Chris Newberry Says:

    I think I am hooked already! That is crazy. These clowns that seem to think that hustling is the in thing or the fad to fallow need to read this and see just how real it gets out there.

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