The Tale of The Grey Souls: Chapter 1

Parental Discretion Advised, Explicit Content

The mixed aroma of garbage and street food carts fills the atmosphere of the crowded New York City daytime street. Business people, homeless people, street hustlers, public servants, and tourists move about and stand still on this hot summer afternoon. In the midst of all these people calmly walks a six foot man in what looks to be a brand new grey suit. The suit had to have costs no less than $1,000, his tie would add another $200, his shoes another $500. His posture is confident, he strides with fearlessness and assurance. He has a fresh haircut and a perfect 5 o’clock shadow shave. He’s African-American. He turns down a street corner and makes his way into a small, not too noticeable dive bar called “Sabrina’s.”

“Sabrina’s” is the opposite of crowded and probably only contains 15 patrons, regulars if you will. It is definitely the last place you would expect our protagonist to be, but he walks in like he belongs there and no one else in the bar bats an eye at his presence, as if he is also a regular of the place. He signals a greeting towards the bartender and quickly makes his way towards the back. He walks through the kitchen towards a door in the back, he opens it and it leads to a flight of stairs. He makes his way up those stairs to another door. He opens that door and on the opposite side is an office containing a desk and next to the desk sits a large safe. Behind the desk sits another African-American man. The man behind the desk wears a short sleeved collared shirt. As soon as he notices the man walk through the door, he stands up and greets him with a smirk,

“Tone, how we looking?” Tone replies,

“Everything is prepared to ship tonight on schedule, one change though Leroy.” Leroy looks on at Tone with suspicion,

“What’s the issue?” Tone replies,

“No issue, just a change of delivery location. We’re not gonna unload that stuff at the laundromat this time.” Leroy begins to pour them both a drink,

“Feds onto it?” Tone grabs hold of his drink and takes a sip,

“Feds ain’t on to it, but I think one of these stick-up crews might be. Been seeing a lot of the same faces and this van.” Leroy looks at Tone,

“Feds ride in vans Tone.” Tone shakes his head,

“These ain’t Feds man. Don’t get me wrong, the Feds are aware of us, but they don’t know who we are. Trust me if it was Feds, I’d call the whole thing off. Like I said, it’s a minor issue that’s easily solved with a location change.” Leroy gazes down in his drink,

“We never unloaded here before.” Tone looks at Leroy,

“Exactly, so we don’t gotta worry about getting hit here. Plus it will be a one time thing. Nobody gives a fuck about this bar and that’s the way we like it, so that’s the way we intend to keep it.” Leroy replies,

“True. What’s good with the Mexican? He happy?” Tone grins,

“How could he not be? Business is great, money’s flowing in, and it’s been quiet. Ain’t nobody fucking with us and ain’t nobody trying to fuck with us!” Leroy nods,

“True. How’s that chick you been fucking with? You still fucking with her?” Tone sips his drink,

“Yeah man, I’m still fucking with her.” Leroy smirks and sips his drink. Tone looks at him frustrated,

“She ain’t a issue man. Things are going good between me and her and I already ran a background check. She clean. She ain’t no Fed, she ain’t running around with one of these other gangs. She’s a good girl and I like her, a lot. So get used to seeing her, I’m looking to keep her around awhile.” Leroy puts his drink down,

“I ain’t saying she ain’t a good girl Tone and I ain’t saying don’t go out here and bust your nut. But the business we in and the people we fucking with, having a wife can be a liability. When it comes to women and our business, you gotta get in and get out. What if the Feds get her or worse what if one of these savages out here get her? You don’t think she’ll flip or worse they kill her to draw you out, knock you off your game. When the heat comes around the corner, you best be ready to make a move. I don’t even keep good furniture. The wife, the big house, the driveway full of cars, the kids, that’s for when you out the game, not when you knee deep in it!” Tone continues to sip his drink,

“Maybe we’re nearing that time then.” Leroy replies in shock,

“How the fuck you figure that? You meet a girl and the whole shop shuts down? You think them guys in Mexico gon be cool with that shit? You think you can just call them motherfuckers up and be like, hey guys see you later?” Tone replies softly,

“They got you, you know what to do.” Leroy picks his drink back up and sips it,

“If only it were that easy. If it were that easy there would be less niggas in prison and more FBI agents out of the job. The only way people get out the game that quick is either dead or in jail. We a long way from retirement homeboy. Whether either of us likes it or not, we show up to the Mexicans talking about we want out and they gon kill us and chop us up right where we stand. You can fuck with that chick all you want, even marry her. But if you drop out of our little operation now, we all dead, including that girl. Them motherfuckers don’t mess around. They don’t like changes and they don’t like surprises and they’ll do whatever they gotta do to avoid them and/or send a message so the shit doesn’t happen again. I’m just giving you some advice, keeping your head in the game. The decisions you make with your dick and your heart are yours to make, but don’t use your dick to make decisions about business or they gon find us in an alley with both our dicks in our mouths.” Tone continues to sip his drink.

A Latino woman can be seen cleaning up the living room of a luxurious NYC apartment. She’s wearing a revealing t-shirt showcasing her amazing cleavage and black leggings hugging her voluptuous curves. She has long curly black hair, light brown skin, and green eyes. She quickly turns around as she hears the door open. In walks an exhausted looking Tone. The woman immediately smiles at his presence and glides over to him to greet him with a hug and a kiss,

“How was your day baby?” Tone looks into her eyes,

“Tiring, but seeing you makes it all better.” The woman makes her way to the living room couch, sits down, and signals for Tone to sit down with her. Tone does as he’s told and plops down on the couch in exhaustion. The woman rubs her hand over Tone’s caesar haircut,

“What’s wrong bae?” Tone looks her in her eyes,

“Just business shit. This shit’s getting old Lisa, I’m growing out of it. I don’t wanna do this anymore. I don’t think I need to.” Lisa gazes back,

“So quit.” Tone lifts his head back,

“It’s not that easy and Leroy ain’t making it any easier, but some of the stuff he’s saying is true. I just need time to think, come up with a plan to cut ties without creating any friction.” Lisa rubs on Tone’s head,

“You’ll think of something bae, you always do. We still going to the club tonight?” Tone stands up from the couch,

“Yeah, I’m gonna meet you there though. I gotta make a quick business run beforehand. It’s a run I can’t bring you along on.” Lisa looks on in amusement,

“You sure you ain’t going to see some other bitch?” Tone smirks,

“You know I’m only fucking with you.” Lisa smiles,

“You goddamn right. I got radar, tracking devices, and all that shit on your fine ass. You know how crazy us Spanish bitches is. Plus I ain’t scared to smell your dick neither.” Tone smirks again,

“That’s why I always keep it fresh for you baby.” The two of them kiss and embrace each other on the couch.

Tone and Leroy can be seen back in the office upstairs above the kitchen in “Sabrina’s.” On the desk sits a ton of Cocaine packaged bricks. The large safe next to the desk is open as the two of them stuff the safe with the bricks. There’s a bag full of cash at the bottom of the safe. Once they finish packing the safe, Tone closes it and locks it. He then looks at Leroy,

“Gilly’s gonna come here at 2 AM with the van to move the stash. Wait for him here and then ride with him to the next spot. From there we’ll split it up. One shipment for the truck drivers, one shipment for the club distribution, and one shipment for the street.” Leroy looks on at Tone with a sarcastic expression,

“I know the deal nigga, where you gon be at?” Tone replies,

“I’m going out with Lisa tonight.” Leroy looks on at Tone,

“Don’t forget what I told you man. Whip that pussy, don’t let it whip you!” Tone laughs,

“You watching too much Friday man.” There’s a knock on the door. Both Tone and Leroy quickly look on suspiciously. Tone looks back at Leroy with a worried expression and whispers,

“Who the fuck is that?” Leroy looks back at Tone with the same expression,

“It gotta be Gilly, he the only other person that knows we here tonight. Nigga must’ve got the time wrong.” Tone makes his way over to the door and looks through the peep hole. It’s Lisa with a subtle smirk on her face,

“Hey baby, it’s me.” Leroy gives Tone a wide-eyed enraged expression once he hears Lisa’s voice,

“You told her we was here? My nigga, what the fuck?” Tone looks back at Leroy with a confused expression,

“I don’t recall telling her where I was gonna be at. I just told her I had to make a business run tonight.” Leroy rolls his eyes,

“You probably told her when you was deep in that pussy, that shit got you losing your memory and your marbles. Fuck it nigga, open the door.” Tone opens the door. When he does, Lisa appears in the doorway and there’s a gunman behind her with a gun to the back of her head. The gunman shifts the gun to his right, over Lisa’s shoulder and fires his weapon.

To Be Continued…

 

HOVA!

“If everybody in your clique is rich, your clique is rugged, no one will fall because everyone will be each other’s crutches.” Lyrics rapped over a record called “Feelin’ It” by a man named Shawn Carter, aka, Jay-Z. A couple of weeks ago, in 2016, he came out with a new record with Future and DJ Khaled called “I Got The Keys.” When I first heard the record, I was worried. As a super Jay-Z fan, I thought one of my favorite rappers of all time was falling off. But even if he was, I wasn’t worried I would have to bash him, but worried I would have to defend him against a bunch of younger internet trolls, like I sometimes have to with DMX and Eminem (two of the best rappers ever by the way), but that’s for another article. But then I heard a bunch of people praise the song, way more than I did. Then I listened a few more times and started to like it. I don’t like it as much as his cut on Pusha T’s “Drug Dealer’s Anonymous” but I like it. Then I finally saw the video and it’s pretty good. Scratch that, combined with the video, it’s dope. Then I realized it’s been 20 years since the release of “Reasonable Doubt.” When it comes to songwriters/rappers we are literally looking at the Michael Jackson or Prince of hip-hop.

“Reasonable Doubt”, was released June 25, 1996. After the street single, “I Can’t Get With That”, Original Flavor’s “Can I Get Open”, and Jaz-O’s “Hawaiian Sophie” which came out in 1989. This guy has been putting out rap records for 27 years and he has been consistently good. At worst he has put out some exceptional records, but nothing really terrible, in my opinion. I mean, we could block out the R. Kelly and Linkin Park years, but should we? I mean when “Fiesta” comes on in a bar, I’m jamming. When “Numb/Encore” comes on Pandora, I don’t hit skip. But back to “Reasonable Doubt.” Jesus Christ, what a classic, 20 years since it’s release, I can throw that album on and listen to it from beginning to end and not skip a song. I feel the need to watch documentaries and interviews with all the masterminds behind this album to see what their mindset and game plan was, not because I want to do research, but because I’m obsessed, because I’m a fan. “Pain in Da Ass’s” intro, “Dead Presidents”, “D’Evils”, “Bring It On.” I know who Emory Jones is. I can make the connection and break down the relationship between “Dead Presidents” and “Seen It All.” The reason for all this being that Jay-Z is an incredible storyteller.

The first hip-hop record I heard and fell in love with was “Money, Power, Respect” by The Lox, featuring Lil Kim and DMX. My mother had it on a cassette tape she used to play in the car. My favorite verse was DMX’s verse. I was no older than 10 at the time. It wasn’t too long before I got my hands on DMX’s album, “It’s Dark And Hell is Hot.” I was obsessed, I listened to it everyday. When I was with my mother I listened to it on the walkman and when I went to visit my father I played it on his stereo, because he didn’t care about explicit lyrics being bumped at high volume throughout his place. But I think he did notice, that some of the lyrics were extra harsh and probably didn’t want me obsessing over just that album at such a young age. So one day, he brought me “Reasonable Doubt.” I remember him telling me that this was a little smoother, but I know he thought it was a less explicit album, not realizing the super dark tones in Jay-Z’s metaphors and similes. When I heard that album, I immediately became a fan. I bought every Jay-Z CD after that. In 27 years, I haven’t missed a beat. He is to me, what I think Michael Jackson and Prince are to older people. He’s more explicit, sometimes rude, ghetto, hood, but I don’t care, he’s one of the iconic musical figures that raised my culture and he did a very good job. I’ve been to three Jay-Z concerts and honestly after those, I don’t even really go to concerts. Once I go to a DMX and Eminem concert, I’ll be through, maybe a Notorious BIG hologram concert will draw me back on the live show scene. But anyways, I’m a big fan, so big, that it also makes me a huge critic. When I say huge critic, I mean like, me seeing him put out an “ok” song is like a head coach watching his star player have a bad game. I think it hurts me more. So originally I was gonna write an article about how the great J Hova was finally falling off, but as I thought about it, he’s not.

Over 20 years, Jay-Z has put out 15 platinum albums. 15! That’s insane. Every single album had a hit single, whether you liked it or not. He’s a Grammy Award winner. He’s a self-made billionaire that came up from the projects and escaped a very deep drug dealer’s lifestyle that most former drug dealers can’t even speak about because they are no longer with us. He’s married to Beyonce. He sits courtside at any NBA game he wants. He watches Cowboy games on the sidelines with Jerry Jones. If he even does a feature on someone else’s song, the world stops. Not to mention, this is a guy who no one in the entire music industry believed in at first. No one would sign him. Not a soul. They said he rapped too fast. He had to create his own label, with the help of Damon Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke of course. With all that being said, you don’t have to like the guy, but you got to respect it. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to mention Jay-Z and falling off in the same sentence, he’s too smooth. So, instead of ending this article saying Jay-Z is on a decline, I’m just gonna list my top 5 Jay-Z albums of all-time which I’m positive will stir up a whole different debate. Number 5, Vol.3…Life and Times of Shawn Carter. Number 4, Vol.2…Hard Knock Life. Number 3, The Black Album. Number 2, The Blueprint. And Number 1, Reasonable Doubt. Happy 20th Anniversary.

#BLACKLIVESMATTER, PERIOD!

“Not only are we going to stand up, we are going to right the wrongs of our people in this generation. Our generation has the memories of the unpunished murders of Schwainey, Goodley and of Medgar Evers. There are going to be no more unpunished murders! No more.” Stokeley Carmichael said this to a large group of people on a live television broadcast in 1967. 1967, that’s 49 years ago. The thing that sticks out most to me is that he mentions how his generation is plagued by the memories of unpunished murders. Three key words; generation, unpunished, and murders. Now, almost 50 years and 3 generations later, we’re still dealing with the same issue in this country. An issue of the current generation being plagued by unpunished murders. Notice how it’s murders, plural. Not just one assassination, but multiple people being killed at a rapid rate. And all these murders center on race and are repeatedly happening to the same race of people. And to top it all off, the killers are the same people who swore an oath to protect and serve these people. To keep us safe, yet right now, America feels unsafe more than it has ever been.

To protect and serve, that’s what you see across a police car everywhere you go in the United States. It’s the reassurance that they are here to keep you safe. So, in turn, when the average American sees the police, they feel safer, as they should. This is not the case for African-Americans in 2016 and it is definitely not the case for young African-American males, being one myself. When we, African-American males, see the police, we immediately think Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, all the way up to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. I could fill this whole article with names, but that point has already been proven and if you are unaware of that point and/or don’t believe it to be true you’re either ignorant or in-denial. But, back to the point of the immediate thought of these victims that circulates in an African-American male’s mind as soon as they catch sight of the police. You have to understand, this immediate thought is not a vengeful one, but a defensive one. A defense mechanism if you will. A defense mechanism that has now been embedded into the minds of African-American males, especially younger ones. And this mechanism is not a violent one, that would cause someone to react in rage. It’s actually quite the opposite of that. We react in fear. We are scared of the police. If I’m walking down an unpopulated side of the street and two police officers are walking down the same side, I’ll probably cross to the other side, not in a theatrical way to make a scene, but politely, where they don’t even realize what happened. But in that scenario, what just happened was me crossing the street out of fear that an “incident” or a “mistake” might occur. Yet, these are the same people who are supposed to stop those “incidents” and “mistakes.” And I’m not saying all police officers are bad, but there have been so many of these “incidents” and “mistakes” taking place and then not being justly solved, it makes it hard to trust anyone in the uniform, hence, #BlackLivesMatter.

When I drive a car, I keep my wallet, which contains my license in the cup holder right next to the stick shift in plain sight. There’s no way you can miss my wallet whether you’re sitting inside or standing outside of my car. Maybe if you’re a small child in the backseat, it might get past you. I don’t do this because I have OCD. I do this, in the chance that I’m pulled over and have to show identification. I do this out of fear that if I don’t do this, there’s a chance I can die. I can guarantee that if you went out in any state in America, right now, you’ll find more than a handful of African-American males who do the same thing or something similar. To a Caucasian male, this probably sounds absurd, from keeping the wallet in plain sight to having the thought that a police officer will kill them for reaching for it, or kill them at all. Let’s touch on that fact really quick. Every morning I wake up, I think about the things I’m going to do that day, the clothes I’m going to wear, and how I’m going to avoid getting killed by a police officer. That’s a daily thought I have to have, because if I don’t, I’m not making a healthy decision. That’s why #BlackLivesMatter.

Then comes the question. Well, why do you think the police are going to stop you? What are you doing to make them want to stop you? What are you planning to do to make you suspicious? Trust me, if I or any other African-American male had the answer, we would study that thing and spread it like it was contagious. But one thing I cannot stop doing is being a Black man in America. Not just because I love who I am and I am proud of who I am, but because it’s physically impossible. And based on my experiences, a lot of the times I’ve been stopped, it’s because I’m Black. I’ve been stopped because I fit descriptions, I’ve been stopped to see if I would volunteer to be in a lineup because of my skin color, one time I was stopped in the day time, because the small light above my license plate was off and when the officer came to the window the very first words out of his mouth were, “Where’s the guns and the weed?” He asked that twice and then when he realized there were no illegal substances in the car, he said he stopped me because the light above my license plate was off. I’ve been the passenger in my college roommate’s car, who is White, on campus where he was stopped and the police officer came to my window, reached into the car, grabbed the door handle ordered me to hand over the drugs and when I told him there weren’t any drugs in the car, he pulled me out, handcuffed me and proceeded to search the car and got increasingly mad at me, the passenger, when he couldn’t find anything. And when he came up with nothing, he let us go. The craziest part of that story was my roommate was more upset than me and he didn’t hesitate or deny that incident happened because I was Black. Those are just some of the reasons why I think the police might stop me at any given moment. I know adult White people who have told me that they have never been stopped, period. Again, that’s why #BlackLivesMatter.

Throughout this article, I have been reiterating #BlackLivesMatter. In the previous paragraphs I was giving examples to why, but the thing that motivated me to write this article was not the why. The notion that made me feel it was necessary to write this article was #AllLivesMatter in response to #BlackLivesMatter. At this point, if you are saying #AllLivesMatter in response to #BlackLivesMatter, it’s slap in the face to African-Americans. It’s slap in the face to the victims and their families. It’s also saying that you don’t care. All these “incidents” involve unarmed and/or non-threatening African-American victims who were slain by police officers. It’s a very specific and recurring issue. So to peacefully protest against that issue, #BlackLivesMatter was created. It is a movement to speak out against these injustices, find justice for these issues in a peaceful manner, and prevent them from happening in the future in a peaceful manner. Saying #AllLivesMatter in response to #BlackLivesMatter is like running through the Gay Pride parade in NYC screaming Heterosexual sex feels good too. It’s selfish. We have one peaceful movement against this countrywide issue and there’s groups of people who don’t want us to even have that, not to mention, we would be totally happy if we didn’t have to create the movement in the first place. African-Americans would love for Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and all the other victims from a list that can fill a three page article on it’s own to be able to enjoy their families rather than having to peacefully protest to the rest of the nation #BlackLivesMatter in the wake of their deaths. Saying #AllLivesMatter in response to #BlackLivesMatter stagnates the entire movement. #AllLivesMatter is stating the obvious, of course life is better than death, just the same as you need oxygen to breathe. #BlackLivesMatter means African-American’s lives matter too and based on recurring current events, there are more than a few people who need to be reminded of that. So, #BlackLivesMatter, period. Protest peacefully. Use your voices, not violence. Use the ammunition of thoughts produced by the mind, not the ammunition produced by a handgun. Violence only begets more violence. Stay safe.