It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
I was a young man living on Manhattan’s upper West Side. It was a boring neighborhood. A young black man being raised in a middle income Jewish area. Surrounded by synagogues and kosher meat markets I longed for the fast life. Not so much as in fast money, but I did not want to hang out with Abraham and Levi. There were “cultural differences”.
So I ventured out my neighborhood into lower Manhattan. My cousins whom I was very close with lived there. Wagner Projects. Yeah.. this was the life, on 123th Street and Second Ave. There was life here… hip hop had just started. There were DJ’s and those who thought they could DJ all around. It was nothing for a block party to break out for no reason at all. We would steal the power from the city. Plug in to the light poles and it was on. Girls would come out and be on one side of the street, guys on the other. We would meet up in the middle and dance. Doing the “Spank” and the “Freak”. Well known MC’s (from that area) would be on the mic’s. Cold Crush Brothers, Kevi Kev, The Master Don Committee. It was the best of times.
Here in these towering projects is where I met one of my best friends. We called him Roc. Roc was very cool. He was also and DJ of the projects. Although he got kicked out of his high school, he was still a good hearted person. He was a victim of his environment. His downfall was that he loved to rob people. He was what we used to call a “stick up kid”. But it was understood that he would not do that kind of stuff while we were hanging. We did our devilishment, but it was not illegal. We hung out and chilled most hard together.
There was another dude that I did not really know at the time. Young kid. I think his name (or nickname) was “Gin” but we called him Bass. He was some type of bass head. Looked really bad. But he would have a few dollars all the time. I was rumored that his father was a “number runner”. For those of you that do not know what that was… a number runner was someone that walked the streets and businesses. People would tell them what 3 digit number they wanted to play that day and for how much. The runner would take their numbers and money. If the number came out.. the runner would return with their winnings. The better runners could just about remember who told them what without writing it down. They would make good money doing this, very good money. So this is why Base had a few dollars in his pocket most of the time.
One day while Roc and I was hanging we saw Bass over by the fence line chilling. He was high and talking ish to people that passed. People really didn’t mess with him because of his father. My boy Roc was feeling some kind of way about this. He really didn’t like Bass and he wanted to harass him. I did not agree with this. I knew that Bass dad would be all over our asses. And me trying to make it back up town was like the movie the “Warriors” trying to make it back to Coney Island. I had too long of a trek for some bull. But it did not matter to Roc. He thought Bass had a lot of money and wanted to rob him. I told him no. Because he was actually a very good DJ and had potential. Probably could have made it out the projects. But of course at the time we weren’t thinking about the future. But he still want to be a stick up kid. He was like:
Roc: Man look at him. We need to get that money kid.
Me: Nah man.. we don’t need that kind of heat.
Roc: “F” that… lets rob him… Let Rob Bass!
Me: Easy Roc….. Easy Roc.
He did not rob him… and they actually became the best of friends.
It takes two…