A note for my father: Dad. First of all I want to say what a complete honor it is to have you be a feature on my website. You are someone worth getting to know and you are someone worth remembering. There is not another like you walking this earth and I hope you believe that just as well as I do. I want to thank you for everything you’ve taught me, shown me, and helped me understand from a young girl until now. There is not a conversation that I have with anyone today where I am not saying to them “my dad used to always say”.. You have given me so much wisdom, I mean I could write an entire book with an encyclopedia to match. I would not be the woman I am today if it wasn't for those late nights sitting outside with you when I was sixteen having deep conversations about life and eating snacks from the corner store we had no business eating at 3AM. Waking up for school tired the next day, but not regretting it one second because of the wisdom that was handed down to me. I went through my rebellious part in life, but I hope you see now that your teachings did not go to waste. You gave me knowledge I needed, the strength I needed, to be able to withstand life the way it is RIGHT NOW. You did not fail me. You did not do wrong by me. You did the best you could and you did a damn good job. I couldn't have prayed to the most High for a better father. I admire the heart that you have, the wanting to see other people make it, the understanding you have about situations in this life, the way you love unconditionally. I admire that you always say you never get mad at the people you love when they do something wrong, only disappointed. I admire who you are from the inside out. From the depths of your soul on the inside to the thick melanated skin on the outside that you walk with daily, you are a man to be loved and admired. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and thank you for not giving up on me when I hurt you. I love you dad.
The song below was done in the early 2000s. It's one of the many that were recorded when my dad and his brothers were all making music together. It's the song chosen to demonstrate the lifestyle that was being lived prior to his life change. (Verse one is his.)
A little backstory on his street name - 1/2 Pint: Everybody called him that because of his very, very short temper and tolerance for many things.
First off let me say I’m honored that I was asked to do this interview from such a talented woman, that is so honestly truthful in her writing.
Being that you spent the 80s living up North pretty much in one of the most dangerous cities in America, tell me what that was like for you and your experience as a child growing up there. What do you think was one of the most essential things being in that type of environment taught you that you carry with you today?
Living up north as a kid was so dangerously amazing. You get the four seasons, winter snow, fall leaves, spring flowers and summers cool breeze. I didn’t go to schools in my neighborhood, so the schools always had some type of festival and all the teachers was extra nice. Now my neighborhood was a different story. Gangs, drugs, pimps, and players; you could find them all where I lived. The most essential thing I learned, is no one is invincible.
What were the best memories you had as a child growing up in the Windy City?
Since we couldn’t go out the yard because of the gangs; just to leave the house with my big brother or older sister. Hanging out and doing things my parents didn’t approve of still stays with me. Being a big family we were extra close, the laughs the lake and the way we lived still lives close to my heart. We lived like the popular kid in high school the only difference is that our whole family was treated that way.
When you were just a young boy with a dream, what inspired you back then? What were the dreams you had for yourself as a kid.
Everything good inspired me in some shape form or fashion. My dreams were to be a basketball player, a detective, a fireman or civil rights activist and those dreams lasted until I was 11 years old. Once I heard rap music, it awoke that writer inside of me and nothing else mattered.
I know that you grew up with 11 other brothers and sisters, so when you were young, what was your creative outlet? What did you do to get away from the chaos at home?
It was never chaos at home, my dad wouldn’t allow that, plus we were a close knit family. Being in a neighborhood with big houses and bad people, something bad was always going on. With all my sisters having kids by gang members, the outside crazy would always find its way inside our home. So the little time I had to be creative, my outlet was listening to music and playing basketball.
What was the turning point in your childhood in which you realized your innocence was stripped away? The moment that immediately took you from a child who knew very little, to a child who knew too much.
When my dad left us and we had to take care of ourselves. Once you go hungry for days, weeks, you start watching the people in your hood that got money. Once someone offers you money to do something you believe is small, you will do almost anything to eat. Once I moved with my older sister, it was over. My innocence was gone and striped away from me for survival. There wasn’t no high school for me, it was either work or hustle. Being only 13 year old hanging around grown men, I went from zero to a hundred real fast.
I know that eventually, you and your family were forced to move from the big house in Chicago. What type of impact did being forced to move to Houston have on you? What hardships did you face having to relocate to the South as a man of color? In your everyday life, in school, in public, etc.
My family up north was well known and we lived like the most popular family in our whole neighborhood. My dad was well known and since all my sisters kids was by gang members, from the hood ,to the churches, to politics, we were well known. To move from a place like that tears a hole in your heart. I didn’t know how much color mattered until I moved to Houston. Down south color became all I was when people seen me. The schools was dirty, the teachers was mean, and you could get popped by teachers down here. Publicly, my whole surroundings changed and it was like I went from Alice in wonder land to the Carter in New Jack City. Although there was gangs where I lived, respect for my family was high, and that makes a big difference.
You once told me, I will work before I hustle, hustle before I steal, and steal before I starve. What was the toughest thing that you had to deal with mentally, morally, and emotionally having to adopt a street life just to survive once ya’ll moved?
Mentally there was no peace, you had to be on point 24/7. I was working at a body shop in the morning and DJ at a club at night at the age of 14. I had a gun pulled on me and cocked at my head at 15. Bullets pass right by my face at 17 and the noise it makes when it passes by lives with you forever. Morally, living the life I lived young sexual desires was always high. Money Weed and Sex was my lifestyle. Hanging with my friends we had the type of parties you see on TV. When you 17 and have your own home, BNP parties was every Friday. More money more weed more women, I didn’t know what morals meant at that time. Emotionally, I was taught not to have emotions, if I did it was only for God. That’s where the work before I hustle hustle before I steal steal before I starve came from. That was a Prayer to God, for him to know I will always try to do what’s right before I do what’s wrong. That’s why I always tell you, you have to fight against that which is wrong when you know to do right.
What exactly did the streets teach you? The good and the bad. Do you still carry what it taught you, with you today? Do you apply any of that at all or have you fully suppressed that side of you?
I always tell people I went to BYU and graduated at the top of my class with a doctorate in JOAT. Back Yard University- Jack Of All Trades. From back allies to board rooms people are looking for the same thing, to win. The streets taught me to be a chameleon, to adapt to different environments, to evolve or you will dissolve. Never tell people what you're thinking, listen more say less, stay ready so you won’t have to get ready and all men breathe the same air. The good thing about the streets is that you have to learn fast or you won’t last. You have to always be on point, dot your I’s cross your t’s and move in silence. The bad things about the streets is everyone want’s to be a gangster. Everyone thinks that running game on their friends, family, or close partners is cool. Death be on the hunt, laws be on patrol, women trying to entrap you and jail is real. Everything I learned is behind a closed door in my mind. I only open them when I need them, suppressing them is not the problem. Staying away from the people you love that makes you have open them doors again is the problem. POME(Product of My Environment). We are all products of our environment and we all must free ourselves from those things that holds us back. Those things that our flesh is addicted to. All the things we do for fun in terms of the drinking, smoking, sexing, and cheating. None of these things we did as a child. No matter how you try to rationalize it. It’s a fleshly addiction. There is a saying, we spend all our childhood trying to be an adult and all your adult years trying to be a child again.
What is something that still haunts you to this day about the life you were forced to live just to provide for yourself and your family?
The punishment from God. God is always watching and he is just. What goes around comes around, and the choices you make today can be the snake in your path tomorrow. It’s not just the sins you commit but the influence you have on others that makes them do the wrong thing. The thing that haunts me is Gods judgement. To be honest I cant go into all the things that haunt me. The passion never leaves for something you really love, its apart of you, it lives in you and you live in it.
You have so many songs that are extremely timeless and I know that even though you’ve changed your life around, you still have a passion for it. When did you first realize you had a passion for writing and music?
When I first learned the fat-boys song, I was 5 years old and I learned the whole song. I used to write speeches like MLK when I was 18. Writing has always been a part of me and me a part of it. Having 3 major record labels trying to sign me at a young age, I knew right then I have something special.
Tell me a little bit about H.O.G Entertainment. House of Games is not just any old name, but there is a deeper meaning behind it. Explain for my readers what House of Games really means.
House Of Gamez was given to me and the guy I was rapping with at that time. Bushwick Bill, (rest in peace Bill). We were traveling in his van going to his house and he said I see a name for yall, I see a name. His eyes was closed and he was bobbing his head back and forth and then said House Of Gamez, as if he just had a revelation. Bill was artistic like that. We stayed at his house for some days and then left. From that day forward House Of Gamez was born. People always ask me whats the game, I tell them it’s the truth game. What ever you claiming to be, House Of Gamez is going to make you prove that. Door number one might be the pimping, door two might be the takers, door three might be the hustlers, door five board rooms and door six back allies. See, every and any game you want to play we can play in this house. Just remember the house always wins. The music is another part of the game, we are not rappers we are writers, every word has to evolve you, every track has to live inside you. So when the words hit the music it transports you to a place where time don’t exist, when the words hit the music it transports you to a timeless place.
A verse from my favorite song by you goes “I can see the flames burning.. it feels like I'm so close to hell, I can reach out and touch it. It’s all in my heart the Lord knows that I love it and No matter how many times I try I just can’t stop, is this what I was destined to be? A young G caught all up in these streets? My pulse is racing, my brain cells slowly dying, my flesh is burning. I can hear my mama crying, kneeling down at the casket, eyes full of tears. Sorry mama this is why God put me here, to ride for my riches, move bricks for the stacks…gangsterism is the only thing that I know. I’m just another lost soul, can’t find which way to go, making too many wrong turns, about to hit my crossroads.” It’s one of the saddest verses because I can just hear how much in that moment you were committed to the streets. You just KNEW it was what you were made for. But, at the same time, when you said my flesh is burning, that hit home. Because, You knew what you were doing wasn't right in your spirit. My interpretation of this is you felt like you were dying. Like the lifestyle that you were living was killing you as a person from the INSIDE, starting with your soul. I just wanna know, where was your heart and soul at during the time you wrote this? Did you even see the light at the end of the tunnel, or were you so consumed by the street life that you were ready to go under for it no matter the consequences?
When I wrote No Way Out, it was a representation of a mental struggle. People seem to always do the things they believe they are good at. At that time I was living for the flesh, and in this flesh you have to pay for what you purchase. I was purchasing a street life, one that puts you closer to death or jail. When I wrote it I didn’t think I would live to get the age I am now; and with my dad being a preacher I knew what the end was going to be for me. I was trapped in my own mind going around in circles, there was No Way Out, that’s how I felt at that time.
Even though at that time there was light in me I was living in darkness, so it’s hard to see the light when darkness is all around you. No normal person want’s to die, but when you are so consumed with flesh, living for a lifestyle I didn’t want but was good at, you live by the codes. One of those codes requires you to be ready to kill or die. That’s the street life and when you live for it those consequences are part of that lifestyle. No Matter What.
Even though I know you have so many very real and raw songs that you’ve recorded back in the day and even in recent years, what was that ONE song that made you feel as if you unpacked more than just words behind a tight beat? The song that still gives you chills today.
it’s hard to pick one song out of all them because they all were a part of the life I was living. But if I had to chose one it’s a tie between No Way Out and Sinners Prayer.
As a writer back then what did originality mean to you and what was the message that you were sending at the time through your music?
Today people mix up original and ordinary. Originality is a trend setter they are authentic they are not like anyone else. In my music that’s the message I was trying to send. Although I might be talking about the same thing as someone else, I would write it and deliver it in a way no one else had thought of.
What did music mean to you back then? Not just where you knew it would take you, but what did it mean to YOU, as a person.
To me music was a way to escape your current environment and situation. At the same time hiphop and rap was like the ghetto news paper. Hiphop and rap music was created out of pain and suffering. We were trying to take all the tragedies and hardships and release them. That way the whole world would know our pain and suffering, from one state to the next, one hood to the next.
What was the turning point in your life in which you realized music and the streets wasn't as important to you anymore?
Music will always be a part of my life, the streets is not something I chose but a means to survive. My biggest problem was being domesticated, and working at a company with the same people that hated us. I guess my turning point was when the streets wanted to take back the time that it had gave me. That can only happen two ways dead or in jail.
What positive impact did living that street life have on you and what negative impact did it have on you?
Knowing people and how to deal with them, you have to learn fast in the streets and over come your fears, because you cant be scared in these streets. So you have to take all the positive and apply them to a different part of your life. The negative is everybody wanted to be a gangster. They want to take something we were doing because at that time we didn’t have any other way. Now they want to make that a lifestyle, like it’s a career.
I know that as a young child, your heart was for the most High. You tell me all the time that when you were a kid, the most High was your first love. It’s said that when we get older, we will go back to what we knew as kids. When did your yearning for the most High become more important than the life you were living? Why do you think it came back full force even though you were so committed to a different type of lifestyle?
I always yearned for the Most high, my heart yearned for him continually. I was just living for the flesh on the outside. Even when the all black was on and my fam outside blowing the horn because we had to go handle something. I would be on my knees praying to the Most High for a way out. Saying to him I really don’t want to do this but you know my situation please help me find a different way. You cant make a bad tree good nor a good tree bad, whoever you serve is who you are going to see more of in a person. I had suppressed the Most High long enough for other people that didn’t want to see me any other way. But when you are his, he is going to keep coming for you and coming for you. To the point where I couldn’t suppress him any more. He kept working on me until tears rolled down my face and I fell on my knees. I started crying out to him and that old life was done.
What was your first true experience with the most High? A moment in time in which you said to yourself, he is real. There is no doubt, there is no question.
To me hes always been real, look at the trees no man created that. The flowers the bees, the birds, the lions. You pick an apple off the tree and from that moment, there is no more life in the apple because you took it from its life source; the tree. You can eat it plant the seeds and another apple tree grows. Just like our lives we are in this body, one day the body is going to die but that which was giving it life still lives. Now the creator is going to have to send that life somewhere. The place it ends up depends on who you lived your life for. Plus the spirit of God spoke to me once. Believe me hes real.
Has there ever been a moment, since you’ve changed your life around that you questioned the most High and his plans for you? The moment that made you say God, I don’t understand why you’re doing this. Or have you ALWAYS kept your faith strong no matter what?
Yes. When certain things happen you wonder why and question him, when we need to look at our lives and see what we have done to be in that situation. Being in this body, our faith will always be tested some way. A man once told me if you cant track him or trace him you must trust him.
What has been the hardest thing for you, personally, since changing your life around? In other words, what do you struggle with the most when it comes to the flesh?
Money and sex. When you live for certain things 30 plus years just to be satisfied in your body, that’s a weakness. And your weakness is what the wicked one always try to use against you.
If ever you have a time that your faith wavers, even a millimeter, what helps you center back and trust the most High through it all?
Knowing he is just in all things and I remember the words that was spoken to me by his spirit. Knowing he could of taken me away from here for the things I’ve already done. I know he has me here for a reason and I must trust him.
I had the honor of being one of the first people to read your book, The Guide to Loving Someone Else without Losing Yourself. I can’t wait until it’s published because it is one of those books that will be passed down for generations, just like your music. Tell us a little bit about your book and what inspired you to write it.
The book is a self help book to guide you before you commit yourself to someone, and to help you not lose yourself when you do commit. Plus it helps you to understand how to commit yourself and the way your partner needs to commit themselves. So many people don’t take the time to truly understand who they are, and how to be faithful to the parts of them that are good and get rid of those things that are bad. People always look for the wrong things when it comes to love and relationships. First of all you must be honest with yourself because if you are not someone else will, and start telling all the things about you that you try to hide. So my book will help all those looking for true love.
I know you’ve re read your book many times, so I just have to ask. What was one of your favorite lines from that book? The line that would make people go, snap snap, like they were at a poetry slam.
There are many life awakening lines in this book, I like the one that says. ( love is an intimate moment with yourself being shared and felt vicariously through the eyes and the feelings of someone else).
What is the ultimate message you are conveying with this book and what is something you are praying/hoping for when it comes to this book being published for the world to see.
Knowing who you are, and to understand that you need to look for the person that completes you not just the person you want. I’m hoping people see this book for what it is and share the wisdom in the book that can help those that need it.
You have such an honest understanding about people and situations in this life and in the book you wrote, it shows. You can read people like I’ve never seen before and it’s truly amazing. It’s not a gut feeling type of understanding either. It’s something deeper. I mean I’ve brought so many people around you and you will tell me exactly about this person and the way they are without even knowing them personally. I’ve never seen anything like it. Where do you think you adopted this knowledge of people from and how are you able to be so understanding of people and situations unlike others?
God gives gifts to all of us, the knowledge of knowing people comes with looking beyond their eyes, deep into their souls. That helps me to see their ways and kinda understand their character. Most people walk that broad road, so over time it gets easier.
I know that you are also working on a book titled, Fathered by the Fatherless. Explain a little bit about what the title of that book means for YOU and what inspired you to start writing it.
I wanted to write Fathered by the fatherless because there are so many kids out here especially young men that are lost. There is knowledge wisdom and understanding that has to be passed down from generation to generation. That’s not happening in our community, and as we all can see, the outcome of this is devastating. This is why I’m writing this book.
What was one of the hardest realities you had to face when you became a father yourself?
The hardest reality is that you cant protect your kid from all that this world can do to them.
What internal battles were you fighting at the time you knew that I was on the way?
Being faithful, being a provider, giving up the things that I knew was wrong but I still enjoyed them. I wanted to be somebody you could look up to and say that’s my dad.
How did your view of the world and life itself change once you had a child?
My view of the world didn’t change, just the things I did in this world. Being responsible for another life is a great gift from The Most High. The world is a beautiful place, people make it ugly.
Now that you have two daughters and a son, what has been the most challenging thing for you as a parent? What has been the most rewarding thing for you?
Living with this illness (sickle cell) and being a prisoner in my own body. Having to limit myself because of the pain my body will put me through. Especially if I try to do all the things I want to.
Having children, most parents think "no not my child, my child would never." I never had that outlook. Life is what it is and I knew my children were likely to do the things that their parents did. The good and the bad and as a parent we must accept that, and try our best to guide them right. Most of all teaching them about The Most High and his requirements, so he can protect them when we cant. The reward is seeing your children apply the things you taught them and telling you things that they learned by themselves. Making the right choices, growing up to be that strong woman or man and keeping God in their life.
When you are a family man in the streets, you don’t want to be around your family unless your money right. I remember being over a well know music producers house. And he said I don’t want to be around my kids unless I have money, and I agreed with him. Until one day your mom had to bring you over and I told her no because I didn’t have nothing at that time. I mean nothing. She told me she don’t care about that. So she dropped you off. I took you to the park and to the store to get a bag of chips and a soda. You were smiling, laughing, and playing all day. I can still remember the smile you had on your face. It was like you went to Disney Land. In that moment I realized time with your children is worth so much more than buying them gifts.
What are the most challenging and rewarding things about being a husband? I know for a long time back in the day, being fully committed to a woman was not on your radar. When did this change?
Applying the things that the Most High requires as a husband. I didn’t think I would live long enough to have a wife and kids. When I started reading the Bible I found out you can go to hell for fornication, that was it I said I’m getting married. Plus, I wasn’t leaving Nadia. She is a real one in so many ways. If we didn’t know each other in this life, the love she has would draw us to each other. The love we have is timeless, it couldn’t be contained in this life or any other life it’s too bountiful. Seeing your wife evolve, not just growing with her but growing inside her. Seeing the way she loves and showing her love to you in everything she do. She loves even in anger, in pain, in weakness in strength. She is love and the definition of it.
How has being a family man now and no longer a street entity changed you? What is something you’ve learned about yourself that you didn’t know before now that you spend more time at home with your family and in your Bible?
I’m more patient and understanding now as a family man. When I was in the streets everyone had to listen to my words, everything had to go my way. I had to have everything how I wanted it when I wanted it.
I learned that I’m not bulletproof, and all the things I was able to do The Most High covered me because it wasn’t in my heart to do it. I learned only what you do for The Most High will last. I must teach my children about the Bible and showing them that the same things that are happening now, happened in the Bible days.
If you could go back and do it all over again, would you do it the same way or would there be major changes?
Major changes, all I’m going to say is things would be very different for me. I will say this, I would have started my walk with the Most High much sooner.
What makes your soul smile today, even though the weight of the world sits on your shoulders constantly?
When I do right by The Most High and when I talk to my kids and they say things I taught them from the Bible. There are not many things that will make me smile. I loved smiling and laughing as a child. The streets stripped all that joy from me.
What is the end all goal for your life and your family?
The end goal for me is to get into the Kingdom, I hope that’s the end goal for my family as well. Everything else is just to have while I pass through this pilgrimage.
Any final words you’d like to say, shout outs you want to give, words of wisdom you’d like to leave us with?
I enjoyed this and I hope anyone reading this enjoyed it. Words of wisdom, Be real to whats right not what's popular. Remember love is loyalty, whatever they are loyal to is what they love. Life is to real to be fake and to short to be unhappy. Remember life goes on, and everything fades in time, the memories of those we love and those that loved us. You only get one time to live this life. Live it for those that live in you not with you. Everything else don’t matter. Remember the apple and the seed, just like you eat the apple plant the seed and a apple tree grows. Our souls are wrapped in this flesh, and when this flesh expires you lose your soul. Now it belongs to God and he is going to put it where he feels it deserves to go.