Archive for the ‘Can’t Knock The Hustle’ Category

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

April 9, 2009

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.