"That lifestyle really does come to an end. Either you’ll get killed or sent to prison."

I am Dre

04.26.2015

Hey, whats up? I responded to all of your letters, now I’m gonna respond to your Apr 2 letter about my personal experience in the streets and how music influenced me. I saved this one for last, but you’ll probably get them all at once cause Im attaching a voucher to all of them. They process them all at the same time. I was gonna spread them out, but I can’t anymore. I got caught. Lol. Its all good though. Nothing to it.

I’m cool with telling you my story on some of the experiences that I had when I was in the streets. I want you to understand that everything I tell you is 100% true and im not exaggerating in any way or bragging at all. This is really how I used to think and see the world at that point in my life. I also wont answer all of the questions you asked, just to be on the safe side.

In the neighborhood I grew up in, and the block that I lived on was pretty much controlled by “[name removed].” That’s the gang that I was in then, but im not now. Some of my family members were in the same gang and a lot of the [name removed] that weren’t my actual biological family, they still were like family to me. Some of them even lived with us at certain points of time. So this is what I was around everyday. Everywhere in the neighborhood they were there. This is what I seen everyday and I thought it was cool and I just wanted to be apart of it. To me it wasn’t a gang, but more like a family.

I knew everyone in the gang & they all were like family to me. They were like big brothers. I felt loved & protected. And I felt important cause they all took me in. They never let me be involved in anything that they were doing, though. They would all be out on the block selling & using drugs, but they never let me do any of that. But I was still there, and I payed attention to everything. I think I was fascinated by all of it. I wanted to do everything that they were doing and I wasn’t gonna let anyone stop me. But these guys never tried to get me to be involved in any of it. They actually pressured me bout going to school. That was always important. And they used to make me go home right when the street lights [went off].

I remember I used to be out there & sometimes I used to be hungry, and one of the guys would take me into the corner store that we were standing in front of and tell me to get anything I wanted. I would get like $20 worth of junk food & he would pay for it. That may not seem like much now, but 10-12 yrs ago, $20 was a lot for me. Especially buying snacks. But it just felt good to me cause I know that these guys were always there for me.

 I think I got fascinated with fast money around that time. Those guys used to walk around with thousands in their pockets. They always dressed nice and it just seemed like having fast money made things a lot easier. I remember most of those guys. Majority of them are in prison with heavy sentences. Some just disappeared. And some of them were still like family up to the point that I got locked up. Whats crazy though, is that some of the guys that were doing real good back then, they’re out there doing pretty bad now.

That lifestyle really does come to an end. Either you’ll get killed or sent to prison. Or in between going back n forth to prison you’ll lose everything; family, friends and money. Then you’ll be out on the block trying to do the same things the teenagers are doing. I’ve seen it all the time. But this doesn’t happen to everyone. There are very few that get rich off of selling drugs & continue to live a life of selling drugs. But you never see them. The ‘street’ life and ‘drug game’ are different lifestyles.

But there really isn’t many people that get lucky. I didn’t know much about gangs till I started hanging with the older guys in the neighborhood. Eventually I became real familiar with everything. Every few blocks you walked, there was a different gang. I remember being in the middle of fights where there was like 15 people or more on each side. This was something that happened all the time. I never got hurt because no one really took me serious cause I was so young & small.

For any kids growing up in these kinds of neighborhoods, I think its real easy for the things you see everyday and the things your surrounded by to become your life or lifestyle. Especially if your family cant afford to take you outside of the neighborhood to see new things. This is all you see & know. Theres also nothing productive for young kids to do, so they go outside & get involved & influenced in all kinds of stuff. The kids in these neighborhoods aren’t sitting in the house playing video games or on the computer because most of them can’t even afford that stuff. Know what I mean?

The first time I ever picked up a gun was when I was about 7 or 8. A family member had it hidden and I found it. I knew he had his gun & weed in the house, and I was already really curious about both, so I went searching and I found it. It was a pistol but it wasn’t loaded or nothing like that. I just picked it up and tried to see how it worked. After that, I was in love with guns. The next day it was gone though. But prior to that, I was still fascinated with guns from watching movies & playing video games. And cause of everything going on in the neighborhood. But that was my first time holding one.

I think the first time I shot a gun was when I had come back from the residential. I think I was 12. It was the 4th of July. Every year on the 4th of July, people bring their guns out to shoot them in the air, for fun. I don’t know why. But that’s when I shot my first gun. It was almost my last time, too. I really didn’t know what to expect because I’d only seen guns being shot or done it on video games. The gun was so powerful, it caught me off-guard and scared me. I ended up getting used to it, but for a min, I didn’t want anything to do with them. I think the reason I was always so cautious to make sure I’d never got shot was because I knew how powerful guns were, and I couldn’t imagine being shot by one.

Yup, the inspiration I get from you inspires me to be a better person. Not sayin that im a bad person, but everyone has room for improvement. I guess it’s the same with other people that I take certain characteristics from. Just seeing good in people makes me wanna be the same. But growing up, the characteristics I got from certain guys was more about how I wanted others to see me & how I wanted to carry myself. I see guys always being goofy or having bad attitudes or characteristics that I didn’t like, and I tell myself that I can’t be like that. I see guys that people didn’t care much for and I’ll try & understand why so I can be different. And I always didn’t wanna be the type of person that did the same things that everyone else was doing.

I think its important to be your own man/woman. But its cool to learn from other people. The good and the bad.

Some of the characteristics I learned from respected guys in the neighborhood were: Loyalty; Responsibility; How to dress; How to carry myself and be respected; How to treat people; Not to be a person that jokes around all the time-because people won’t take you serious when you want them to. And also to always be aware of everything & everyone that’s around you.

I learned these things from respected guys that took be under their wing and pretty much raised me. But I was always the type to think for myself. So, I took this advise in but I always made my own judgements on all of this. The values that I have also comes from being around good men/women that raised me, but also naturally through my life & just growing up.

When I said, “When I put my trust in someone, and they break that, they fuck it up for everyone,” I meant that, when I take risk & decide to trust someone and they break it, I feel stupid for putting my trust in that person to begin with. Like, I feel like I let my guard down. And I feel really betrayed cause if I put my trust in you, that means you earned it. So I feel like I had that person all wrong from the beginning and should’ve stuck to my usual ways by not really trusting anyone.

Because sometimes its really hard to find people with the same values that you can trust. But just cause I don’t trust someone, it doesn’t have to affect the relationships I have with them. We could be real cool, but that don’t mean I’ll trust you. Sometimes you could be real cool with someone and start to trust them, then they’ll do something that makes you take a step back.

I guess its like this: The trust that I have in you based on the relationship-whether its professional or something else; if you were to break that, it would be hard for me to trust other people like you. What im saying is: to me you seem like a great person & I’ve come to trust you. So, basically I think my trust for you was earned and if after everything that we’ve built so far, if you were to break my trust, it would make it real hard to trust anyone no matter how good they seem. Because if someone like you could break my trust, then anyone could. This is just an example, we’re all good. I’m just speaking in general for anyone that earns my trust. Lol, I hope im not confusing you. I’m starting to confuse myself.

Some of the songs that Lil Boosie rapped about were things that go on every day in my old neighborhood. Just the every day struggle that people overlook all the time. The poverty, violence & all the drugs. But he also raps about all the negative stuff too. Like his experiences with guns & violence and murder. But he also speaks about things that made him the way he is. His dad dying, he talks a lot about that. He always talks about his gma dying and also losing his best friend to violence. And he also raps about his life with having diabetes. There’s a lot of pain in his music, but to me that helps me really feel the music & understand the artist.

He also says that he was “born & raised in it.” “It” being everything in his neighborhoods. Many people might look at him as a thug or someone that’s promoting violence but they don’t understand everything that hes been through that made him the man he is today. If you take away music from him, then calling him a thug would be just like calling every black youth & man that live in poverty areas ‘thugs.’ In some of his songs, he also emphasized on the fact that its so hard in these neighborhoods, that the only way to make it out is to, “Rap, play ball, or hustle.” I don’t think those are the only ways out, but I do think that they’re the easiest, for the black communities, which is messed up, in my opinion. Going to school everyday and living a normal-peaceful life is almost unheard of in these neighborhoods.

But yeah, some of the things that I can relate to in Lil Boosie’s music would be just the everyday struggle in the neighborhood that he grew up in & the violence. Its just like if I were to make music about my life story, instead of writing it, and if I were to give it to the other guys that lived in similar places. They would feel connected to my music. Does all of this make sense and answer your question? If not, let me know. I’ll clarify more if I could.

I think Derrick Rose and Lil Boosie are similar in the sense that they both grew up in really bad neighborhoods. They both felt the same pain that comes with living in poverty, but D-Rose had someone to watch over him & make sure that he didn’t have to be apart of all the negative stuff that surrounded him. Lil Booise didn’t have that. He only had the streets. And he went through & seen a lot of stuff at a real young age. Lil Boosie was actually real good at basketball. I think he won a lot of trophies in high school and would’ve went on to play college ball, but he slapped a teacher, I think. So he got kicked out of school. But I think they different because Lil Boosie was exposed & pretty much thrown into the streets by certain circumstances that kids & youth face everyday and all of his experiences made him who he is today.

But one thing people don’t realize is that when you are born & raised into a certain way of life & you don’t have an education or any help or resources, the streets are all you have. You either be a product of the environment (another statistic) or you find a way to get out - which can be really hard for most people.

But I also think Drose was sheltered from all of this. I think his brothers did what they had to in the streets to ensure that he never would have to do the same things, and this made his dreams become a reality. He was actually able to chase his dreams. A lot kids have dreams, but they can’t go after them.

The neighborhood I grew up in was really segregated. So there was really only black people. But there wasn’t many people that had green eyes. So a lot of guys were jealous that I had green eyes because I got a lot of attention because of it. Mainly from the girls.

I was the most dangerous or one of the most dangerous because I was willing to hurt anyone that I felt threatened me or my family. If someone disrespected me or my family, I would try & hurt them by trying to shoot them. If they lived I didn’t care. But I knew how dangerous people could be, so I wanted to make sure that everyone understood that me and my family were to be respected in every way, and if someone tried to disrespect or physically hurt my family, I would come for them.

I’ve never been set up before. But it could’ve easily happened if I never got locked up. It was hard to set me up though cause I always expected something to happen, so I was always cautious and I always had a gun. I also never trusted anyone. But this stuff happens all the time I know people that done it and at one point I felt that if I ever felt like I needed to, I would do it myself. Its not the way I am now, but this is the way a lot of people do think today and its something you need to be aware of if your living that kinda life style. I don’t think about, any of these things anymore. I sit back and think & I don’t understand why I used to wanna live this life style. All of this shit stresses you out a lot.

Things that I’ve seen and experienced just growing up & living in my neighborhood were normal to me, so there isn’t really any specific moments. But just everything as a whole will probably be with me forever. The poverty; the struggle; the gangs & violence; the way I lived when I was living in the street life style and also how I’ve seen history repeat itself with everyone in the neighborhood.

Growing up I used to see the guys in the neighborhood doing what they do. And as I got older, I’ve seen the younger kids grow up & replace these guys that were there before them. And there would be those same old guys that were on the block when I was a kid, are broke and trying to fit in with the younger kids that replaced them. Its crazy. I seen that when I was out & promised myself I wouldn’t end up like that. I told myself that if I was rich by the time I graduated high school, I was gonna quit selling drugs & leave the streets alone and go to college.

All of my life experiences will always be in my memory because I’ll never forget where I came from. I’m gonna work hard to get where I wanna be in life if I get out and I know I wont forget everything that I experienced to get there.

I’m glad it don’t seem like I’m bragging, because I’m not. And yeah, im just being honest & telling how it is. Not ashamed or proud at all. So im glad it don’t seem that way.

Lol. The more questions, the better right? Go ahead, ask away.

I’m gonna tell you a lil bit more bout my experience in the streets so you & the viewers has as much clarity as possible.

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