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Age 20 to 21

20 years old. I think I turned 20 in Tacoma, with my sister, things were calming down. my excitement of Korea wasn’t happening anymore, Kentucky was out of the question. Life started to stabilize compared to what it had been since my mom had died. I was living with my sister, building a life, living with my sister, was different. She had a kid so it was transitioning to the point where living with her would no longer be an option. They ended up moving houses, they started a family. Before they had a family, it was like the three of us were family. But then when they actually had their family it transformed into something different. 

I started spending a little bit of time in Tacoma but then I started going back to the Bay area. It’s cold in Tacoma opposed to the Bay area. I got used to living there in California. at mom’s house, and detailing cars. At this point in time, the trips to the Mexican restaurants weren’t as prominent. Remember, I was no longer in that department. What the boss had always explained, hit and miss. When I was in Korea, which is right before I turned 20 by a couple months, the other business started to have a couple hiccups. They never caught anything coming in because like the boss always said, “never let anybody know when you’re coming.” Then they obviously know when you’re leaving but never let anyone know when you’re coming. With that theory, we ended up getting hit for $300,000 by car. Then we also got hit for $80,000 in the airport. That shut down the easier money. After that summer, when I was 19, it was never that large again. The boss still made ends meet. That was something he knew what he was doing but I never made another trip to Louisville under that operation.

During this time, things were different. My artist was part of that family (moms family), This year we decided to take some of the money we earned through our Distribution Company ( California to Louisville) and convert it to Legal money through the music industry. A different cousin of mine, who just got out of the penitentiary, and I built a bond together, during this period of time because both of us had a diligent work ethic to accomplish goals. It also helped that both of us were institutionalized. The two of us would (This is old school. Nowadays it’s so much easier.) days on end, burn the CD and then print the label and put it on the CD. We were going to the studio for recording sessions at night (I’m not sure why this is but it seems like the music industry loves the work at midnight). I’d be detailing cars during the day and going to different studios and driving people around at night. My schedule was pretty busy.

There was a lot of fire at the beginning of the summer for this project. But towards the end of the summer, funding ran out, when people expect that they’re going to make their money fast but, when it doesn’t happen that way, then they aren’t quite as interested as before. My experience in dealing with other artists is that they are very difficult. It’s not about managing the music, it’s about managing the artist. The problem sometimes is artists think they’re already somebody when they’re not. They kind of expect royal treatment when they’re not royal yet. When you have an investor that’s running out of money because it was dirty money. It’s like, let’s turn this into fast money. But that’s not the business he was really trying to do, he was focused on other things. He had a family, and had just bought a house. His focus was somewhere else. Then the artist was more prima donna. The two people that were doing all the work (My cousin and I) had nothing invested.

My cousin and I were doing all the leg work, going here, being here, promoting, doing this, doing that. It was the two of us that were doing everything but we didn’t have any money. We weren’t the artists. When the money ran out and the artist was too hard to deal with, the fire dissipated. At the same time, we built a bond, spending so much time together talking about business and the future. That’s what we were both interested in. I understood him more than anyone else I guess because he was also institutionalized. From me going through all my programs, my mentality was kind of different than most. Him, being in and out of jail, his mentality was different than most. But then when we talked, obviously our experiences were completely different but I understood him and he understood me, if that makes sense. We developed a bond that I didn’t have with anyone else. During this time (or even now), it was the beginning of Medical Marijuana in California. During that time, like I said, the boss was in the music thing but we were doing other things, too. While I’m ripping and running, I was also going to Unc’s house because we had a setup there where we were growing marijuana.

I was detailing cars, I was doing the music thing and Learning the process of cultivating marijuana. The Bay area is a large area, I was mostly in the South and East Bay. The Fremont area, The peninsula (like Menlo Park area) and then San Jose. If you remember, by this time I’d already burned the bridge in Sausalito. Now, I was doing a lot and I was learning a lot however I didn’t have very much money. You might be like, “Well, what happened with all the money from all the trips?” Well, I never got paid for any of the trips to Louisville or any of the trips to Korea. I guess I did it for goodwill and experience. I never made a dollar. I made money to eat but I was never compensated for what I did. That’s that. I was stuck in this environment. I was broke, I had no money. Like I was saying, Tacoma wasn’t as much of an option as it had been before. At least not living with my sister. Then that posed a different problem. I didn’t have anywhere else to go, I was stuck.

I maintained at moms house. There was always food to eat, there was always half of a couch. There was an army of us. There weren’t enough beds. Wherever you could lay your head down, that is where you slept. Around the middle of the summer. Moms got a loan to redo her house. In my mind I’m like, “Mom, you should take that same money and invest in Google” because this is when Google IPO’d. This time, this summer. I remember it was in the newspaper. Whenever Google IPO’d, this is the time I’m talking about. They IPO’d at like, $140 or something because she had gotten $140,000. I was like, “Mom, if you bought 1,000 shares of these, I bet you, you’d make more money.” Of course, if you look at it, she would have. It would have been a great investment. She’s no longer with us, it wouldn’t have been the best investment for her. With the whole army of us, when I mean an army, there’s probably seven of us. There’s too many different names and I’m not going to name anyone. There was cousin, cousin, cousin, cousin, cousin, cousin, cousin. There’s a whole bunch of cousins. Seven of us lived in Mom’s house on a daily basis (kids under 23). Then not mentioning aunts. There was; cousin, cousin and aunt, aunt, aunt. Mom decided that she was going to remodel the house. We had nowhere to go. One of the uncles had a one bedroom apartment on the border of Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. We packed up everything and all of us together moved over to the one bedroom apartment, which was more of a projects-style, they were all apartments. It was different. There was always a lot more going on, different people than just family. Before we were in a neighborhood, now we were in apartments. When I was there I met another like minded person who was Samoan, he wasn’t black. He was the neighbor of one of my cousins. It was fun talking to him. We could escape from the ghetto mentality, crime, drugs and guns were a norm.

Talking with him, we could expand our brains. He, like me, wanted to leave. He ended up moving to Australia, having a family he got out. It’s not just me who got out. There’s other people that got out of East Palo Alto and made something of themselves. During this time, the cousin that was downstairs in the other apartment, both of us had the same last name. It was easier to be like, “Yeah, that’s my brother.” Our last names were the same. He wasn’t related to me but I was adopted into the family, well I adopted the family. Within that family he was more like my brother. He was a man of the streets. Throughout the years, even starting when I was 18, his mindset and mine were similar, we both liked money. We both wanted to have money. But we went about trying to obtain money in very different ways. Hanging out with him for the day was torture for me and vice versa reading books and taking the intellectual approach was absolutely foreign to him. Hanging out with him would mean that we’re out from sunup, literally sunup in the morning until sundown with as much dope(crack) as we could find.

With a Mouthful of spitters, (a little dope, you put it in your mouth or in your butt crack). From the beginning of the day until the end of the day, we were outside and we were running from police, we were hopping fences, stealing bikes, riding around. It was just too much. He would make some money but for all the energy, it wasn’t enough for me there was competition. It’s a lifestyle that wasn’t a lifestyle for me. If you remember, years ago I had been talking about my white buddy from Idaho, that was the life for him. He absolutely loved it. He enjoyed it. I don’t want to tell that story. But he was built for that lifestyle, he enjoyed it. It was different for him. It was exciting. For me, it was an annoyance. I didn’t enjoy it. That wasn’t the life for me. I was more like the boss and let’s go behind closed doors. Not my style. But it was his. It was educational. He introduced me to a foreign lifestyle. Sunup to sundown, selling dope. When I was in Washington, I’d ended up meeting a friend from Cascade, if you remember me telling you about the two brothers. One of the brothers was in Seattle. I went and kicked it with them. Through him, I ended up meeting this other person. Up there, kind of the same thing. It was a completely different instance of selling drugs but it was the same kind of speed that my brother down in California had. To show you how fast life can go, that first night up in Seattle, everything from the beginning, we started with nothing and ended up with $200 a piece in our pocket. We were in a DFR, which is a dope fiend rental. We were flying down the road going to, I don’t know where we were going but we ended up close to the Seattle airport, got pulled over and that was the last I’d ever seen or heard of that person. He reminded me of my cousin, or my brother, because he was moving fast, it was fun, it was exciting but it’s also a fast life and it can end even faster.

At this point in time, I was babysitting the little kids. when I wasn’t working, if I wasn’t out with my brother, then I was usually at home in the little apartment with Moms. There were always little kids. The family is big so it would always rejuvenate and process kids. I babysat, I got used to being around little kids because they were my shadows. I’d take them to the store and babysit them throughout the day and grow relationships with them. I ended up meeting a girl. It was my brother’s friend that he met, but she took a liking to me. Then lo and behold, I saw it as a way out of the ghetto because she had her own apartment. I had gotten a real job, I was working at the Halloween store. I enjoyed it, honestly. It was fun. She invited me to her apartment. Instead of going home to the hood, I would take the bus and go to her house. I forgot where it was, I think it was Redwood City, or I’d take the train up to her house.

The two of us, this was more around Halloween because it was October. We had developed a decent relationship. Then I ended up moving back up to Tacoma, Washington. It was the last time with my sister. My girlfriend was like, “Yeah, I’m going to move there, too.” We got an apartment together. She brought a friend. At this point in time, I didn’t know she had a habit, a crystal meth habit. When she got to tacoma, we were so in love but the relationship turned sour fast. It didn’t help that I told her I was falling for her friend. My girlfriend would lay in bed all day and literally do nothing. Then her friend would talk with me and walk with me and do all this stuff. I became friends with her friend. With that information, she hightailed it to Spokane. We were in Tacoma, she went to Spokane because her friend’s mom lived there, and they got a job. If you remember my white buddy from Idaho.

I called him because he was in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, which is next door to Spokane. I told him, I was like, “Man, life is not working for me right now. It don’t matter, I don’t even care.” He was like, “Man, me too. I’m going to get it however. I’m not going to stop until I’m either dead or in jail.” We both had this bad mentality, absolutely horrendous mentality. He was like, “Man, I’m making some good money out here. I flipped a couple pounds of weed and now I’m up to eight ounces of coke.” I was like, “For real? Well, I’m going to come out there and help you.” I think we might have been at four ounces. I left the apartment, subleased it to someone else, which I was not supposed to do but I subleased it to somebody else and I was on my way to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to sell cocaine. That was fun. That was fun until we got too big. We got big, fast.

Our motto was, “We’re 24/7 for real.” I don’t sleep very much. When he would sleep, I was up. I’m talking about within three weeks we had made like, $30,000. Straight cash profit. It happened really fast. I turned 21 there. We had a good little time. But the problem was, he was extremely greedy. I helped you with all this shit, now you want to give me fucking pennies on the fucking dollar. You know what I’m saying? It would have been all right but then you want me to pay for everything. I’m getting paid pennies on the dollar and then, to make it worse, you’re making me pay half for everything. What little money I’m making, I’ve got to give it right back to you. I was basically working like a slave. There were 2 black people in the entire city. There’s probably 15 but I remember 2 or 3. There was a stabbing one day. Of course, it was a black person. With there only being 3 black people, I’m talking this entire time we’re selling coke I never got stopped, no one paid attention to me, nothing.

I’m walking around like it’s nothing. I had coke all over me, little baggies, we’re ready to go. What I would do, I think this is how we blew up as fast as we did. I would make the knot so small and then cut it to where there’s no way that you could save the bag. You were going to do all that coke when you bought from us. Unless you had somewhere to put it, the second you got into the bag, it’s either going to go all over the place or you’re going to sit there and you’re going to have one hell of a party. Then in about an hour you’re calling for some more because you’re amped up. We made money fast. My alcoholism was not helping because when I’d get drunk I’d get friendly and then have fun. I experimented with the coke on one occasion. My partner was out of town and I was with one of his friends. He was buying all night from me and he kept offering. I was like, “All right, whatever.” Then my friend came back. I will never forget this because he yelled and screamed at me. He said, “Look man, there’s two sides to this. There’s not three. Either you are a junkie or you sell it. There’s no in between.”

When he said that, he shamed me. He shamed me. I was like, “Whatever, it’s not that big a deal.” But when he literally told me, “Uh huh, either you’re going to be a drug addict or you’re not. You’re going to look at it as money or you can look at it as pleasure. One or the other. There is no in between.” With that mentality, I remember it right now, it obviously affected me in a major way. It clicked. But what happened after the stabbing was I got stopped by the police. I had never been stopped by the police. For me, it was time to go. If I was being paid correctly, maybe I wouldn’t have done what I did. However I was getting ripped off. I had no incentive to be loyal. I paid him back, there’s a video of me paying him back. I took some money. I didn’t take all of it. I should have taken all of it because in the end, the police ended up taking it all. I took some, I took a good amount of it. I wrote him a letter and I disappeared on him.

One of my aunts from California was in Seattle. I hightailed it to Seattle. I had a lovely day in Seattle, we might have spent $200 but I took them all around Seattle, we took pictures, we had a good time. Then I called the boss. With all my money, basically … With the apartment I had in Tacoma, I went and picked up my buddy from Cascade, you’ve heard about him a couple times, the one from Sausalito. We hung out. In my mind, at that time, I had more money than God. I spent it. Brought him up, we ended up getting kicked out of the apartment, they took it back from me. I had to get the people that were living there out of the apartment. Then it was just the two of us. He helped me clean up the apartment for a week. Then I sent him down on the bus and then later I went down on a bus. I wasn’t going to fly, too much stuff.

At this time, my girlfriend that I was in love with, had moved back to the Bay area as well. We had rekindled, I spent a couple nights at her house and then went back home to Mom’s. I told the boss I had a little bit of money. He was like, “Man, let me get some. Then I’m going to go to Kentucky and we’re going to make some money.” Being naïve and stupid, I gave him my lifeline, that would have kept me above the zero line for a little bit. I gave it all to him. I got nothing. He made some money, yes. But did I see anything of my return? No. I was right back, square one, no money, nothing. 

I was barely getting any money from detailing cars. I was getting enough to survive. Then I’m going up to my old lady’s house trying to escape the ghetto. By this time, the fun and excitement was over. It was misery, all the way. We had moved back into the new house and with moving back in the new house, it was family but there was nothing positive about being in that situation. I got a job at the mall because I needed more money. There wasn’t any money. When we were going to Kentucky, money was fine and there was more opportunity but then when all that money dried up and it was gone, there was no opportunity. Even the detailing of the cars kind of dried up a little bit. I could do that but it wasn’t enough money. I was getting older and I had a girlfriend. I needed more money.

Now I had to think, I forgot one major thing. Also during this time, me and my girlfriend had broken up. This was right before I got the job. For two months I was like, “I’m going to the Marines. I’m gone.” For two months. when I was supposed to ship out they pulled me and said, “You pissed hot, you’re not allowed to go.” Which means I had marijuana in my system. They gave me two months. I talked to the bank. Now the Marine recruiting station was close to my girlfriend’s house, her family’s house. I told the bank, “I need this apartment right here.” It wasn’t an apartment, it was an extended stay Motel 6. For two months it was lovely. I wasn’t stressed about money because they gave me a little allowance. My job was to go to the Marine station every day. Everything was on plan the first month. The two of us were getting closer. I literally had to run by her house to the Marine station. I thought they were getting better.

But they didn’t. I ended up not going to the Marines because I ended up smoking again. After the two months I was done. I was right back at Mom’s house but I got a job. During that Christmas, it was right before Christmas break for the Christmas vacation. I had known her for a little bit over a year now. During the Christmas break, to go to work I had to pass by her mom’s shop in Palo Alto, I became really close with her mom. Every day I would stop, on my way home or on my way to work, depending on my shift, I would stop in, say hello, and talk to her mom. If you do that all the time, you develop a relationship. I became really close with her family. At this point in time, our relationship was deteriorating horribly but my relationship with her family was increasing. Now I wasn’t just my girlfriend’s boyfriend. I was a friend of her brother, I was a friend of her sister, I was a friend of her mom, her dad was starting to accept me. I was more of a family member. There were a couple of times I spent the night at her family’s house when she wasn’t even at home. Remember, she had habits. The habits were bringing her further and further away from her family. But then I was getting closer and closer. I was trying my hardest to combat the habit she had. I was becoming more consumed in her life. Now, I knew since the day I turned 18, when I turned 22 my life was going to change. My birthday was in two months. At 22, I would start receiving dividends. The dividends, remember the $300,000? Remember that? There was another trust my mom had given to us, my sisters and I. At age 22, that entire fund would be broken into thirds and each of us would now be receiving the dividends. It wasn’t a lot but I went from being broke to making $50 to $100,000 a year. It changed everything.

But it wasn’t like, “Here’s $100,000.” It was, “Here’s $5,000 for three months or Here’s $20,000 for three months” . It had to do with my family’s company at that point in time I had no idea. The actual dividends from stock were barely enough to live on. The family company was very sporadic, giving large amounts some months then small amounts other months, it was difficult to gauge. This change was coming in a few months. Everybody knew this, “Oh man! I forgot during this time, the Christmas before I turned 22 a lot happened that made life unbearable. My girlfriend was on drugs. My heart was crushed, she chose the drug over me. Unc, who had been my mentor since 18, was really sick. He escaped from the hospital and he said, “If I’m going to die, I’m going to die at home.” He escapes from the hospital and they set up a deathbed at home.

Now it was just me and the boys and Mom at the house. They called me inside, I was outside working on some kind of plan, some mastermind reading a book because, like I said, I was always stuck at the house. They called me in and they’re like, “Something’s wrong with him, something’s wrong with him.” I looked at him. He reached for my hand so I grabbed his hand. He was rubbing my thumb. Then the rubbing stopped and he died. That was extremely difficult for me. I had no outlet. I had seen my dad dead, if you remember. I was with my mom when she died, if you remember. But now this is a third significant person in my life. This is the first time I was actually holding someone’s hand when they died. The other one, my mom was more structured, if that makes sense. We were in the hospital, at least. This was in the house, there were no doctors. That night was miserable. Every time I closed my eyes it was a repeating scene my mom, my dad, Unc, my mom, my dad, Unc, my mom, my dad, Unc. their faces just flashing over and over every time I closed my eyes.

I guess emotionally it really affected me even more because before he died, I had an ally. He was older and he always had time to talk. Even a day or two days before he died, he barely could talk, walk or do any of that but he would want to go outside and talk to me and smoke a Black n’ Mild and a cigarette. Everyone was mad as could be with me that I would let him do it but he was going to die anyway. At least let him die in happiness. Death, I was already used to it. I was a veteran of death. I could handle it better. I treated him like it was every other day. Everyone else was like, “Oh you’re going to die” and all this other stuff, real sad and everything. For me it was just like any other day. Now I know you’re going to die. Tell me as much as you can before you die so I can be an extra sponge and get all the lessons that maybe I didn’t get before. That was my approach.

Now, if you’re noticing, everything was changing. Everything. I was growing up, the fun wasn’t there, the money wasn’t there and I was becoming more and more isolated. Around this time, I started coming up with this phrase called fuck you, make money. I would be reading … I had literally been screwed over and over and over and over and over and over by every person in every interaction I had been with. The first person I fell in love with, this girl, she cheated on me and fell in love with a drug and the drug was always more important than I was. The one decent thing I thought I had in my life turned out to be sour. At this point in time, my mind switched to like, “Okay I’m going to focus on me, more or less, and try to find people that want to make money.” I knew I was going to get money coming in. It was the attitude of fuck you, make money. If you’re not trying to make money with me, then fuck you, make money.

During this time my uncle, my mom’s brother, my white uncle, helped me get a job. It was working as a personal trainer. That was a cool job. It would have been a great opportunity. One of my little sisters from that family was becoming a ninth grader. Part of the place I was working at, they would go to the school of my little sister, once or twice a week and do workouts with the students. This allowed me to build a relationship with my little sister, which at the time, was amazing. It was great. We grew really close. Through her, I got back into the family. Not all the way but at least I was starting to have dinner at home. I was being invited over, But I don’t think my family quite understood what situation I was living in and how dire it was.

It’s very difficult for people to be empathetic. If you’re living in a mansion, it’s difficult for you to even imagine a different life. If you remember my counselor, from Cascade, my “motherly figure”. We had planned a time for her to come and see me. I thought she was coming to the Bay area anyway, but she was coming to the Bay area mostly to see me. When I turned 22 I ran as fast as I could away from the East Palo Alto area. I couldn’t get away fast enough.

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