The day after Thanksgiving my phone rang. Upon picking up, I was greeted with a familiar intro. This was a call from some form of correctional institute and was quickly asked if I wished to accept. Because I knew exactly who it was, I did. Without even saying hello, my first words to my partner were, “N*gga, you’re f*cking joking, right?” All he could muster was a crestfallen laugh and proceed to launch into his own side of the story.
With the case being still open, names will be withheld as well as the exact nature of the alleged crime. Just know, if the roof collapses and the next few weeks fail to transpire the way he was confidently explaining over the phone, chances are I may never see my friend as a free man again.
The one attribute common about violence in the street – regardless of city – is many instances of it frequently result from a dangerous elixir of pride, history and precedence. The pride is a repercussion from no one (especially dudes deeply embedded in the street culture) wanting to be portrayed as anything less than the image they create. History and precedence co-mingle off the strength those with direct ties to whatever occurs understand that it could, and frequently will, happen again.
My boy told me the charges he was being linked to had nothing to do with him and that it was all a case of being a previously convicted felon and local law enforcement cracking down on anyone they deemed a threat. Since being released from prison after serving a lengthy bid a few years ago, he’s done his best to turn over a new stone. He settled down with a young lady who accepted him for him, and not his past. He became a father. And he even re-committed himself to his education.
Still, it was the company around him which, at least at this point, appears to have gotten him in hot water the feds may not be willing to release him from. Loosely speaking, his predicament mirrors similar qualities to those hovering over the situation with Chief Keef and the recently-passed Lil’ Jojo. For the record, I’m about 99.9% sure Keef didn’t put the bullet in Jojo which took his life. I doubt he was even in Chicago when the shit hit the fan. That said, it’s the association and his pre-determined image cultivating the notion Keef orchestrated the plan. The difference being, unlike Keef, my boy isn’t a rapper and doesn’t have a conglomerate parallel to Interscope behind him.
Jojo’s mother and brother – Robin Russell and John Coleman – were guests on BET’s Don’t Sleep speaking about the murder, its impact and moving forward. The most powerful moment comes when Russell implicates Keef with ordering the hit on her son. To be fair, Jojo wasn’t necessarily an angel in the situation either, going so far as filming himself taunting alleged rivals mere hours before his own life was taken. Yet, lost in the social media hoopla or whatever rumors emerge, there’s real pain involved. Real tears are shed. And what looks fun to ridicule online – deserved and undeserved – is the tip of an iceberg of a graphic code of conduct becoming more dangerous with each kid dedicating their life to the same block which could one day have their body outlined in chalk.
People die everyday in the street. People are implicated everyday for those murders, too, and in some cases they’re wrongly identified. Just ask Troy Davis’ family. Like I explained to my boy, image is everything. How a person presents themselves and the crowd one keeps around them on a certain platform is normally how the masses judge them across the entire board. Right or wrong.
Such is the reason my partner’s sitting in some cramped cell right now waiting to post bond. Hell, hoping to post bond. It’s also the reason Keef will never escape Jojo’s death regardless of whatever success he achieves. We all write our own novels. How the world perceives the narrative, however, is the furthest thing from our control.
Seen: Hip-Hop Wired