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Running From Cops…A Hip Hop Odyssey

Running From Cops…A Hip Hop Odyssey


Hallow’s Eve

RFC had a yearly tradition of causing mayhem throughout the city on Halloween night. This was the night that we could purge our aggression towards society and strike back at a system that we felt was neglecting us.

We would meet at West 3rd and 6th Avenue in the Village and end up with a mob of at least 100 to 150 soldiers ready for combat. We would simply walk through Manhattan entering clothing stores, delis and bodegas taking virtually anything we wanted: coats, sneakers, jeans and boots, 40s, deuce deuces, six-packs and whatever else we wanted. We gave those Clockwork Orange lads a run for their money. But the violence is where things got way out of hand. We would simply rob, slash or hack anyone that was unlucky enough to cross our paths.

One night I remember this dude dressed up as Batman became a victim. He was huge and appeared to be a real threat and somehow he got into it with one of my soldiers, FED-5. Now, FED and his partner RISK always loved razors, I guess they found it to be a more intimate way of channeling their violent tendencies. So this dude just happens to walk by and he must have said something slick, because before I could blink his black Batman costume was blood red with razor rips and tares all over it. It looked like that jacket Michael Jackson wore in the “Beat It” video. Of course the cops came, we scattered like roaches and eventually all ended up meeting up somewhere else, almost as if we were guided back to each other by some unseen force.

We Didn’t Always Win

At one point my brother KEL and his 5MH (Five Million Hoods) Crew had beef with some cats that called them selves RNS (Rough Neck Soldiers). At the time I had never heard of them but I would eventually find out that they didn’t fuck around. One night we rolled like 30 deep to club Velvet. It was a typical night for RFC: drinking, smoking weed, bagging girls’ numbers and robbing motherfuckers on the way to the club.

As we approached the club on 26th Street and 11th Ave, one block from the Tunnel, two kids with hoodies come out of nowhere and shot a 5MH soldier at point-blank range right in the head, in front of the cops. The message to us was: RFC has some competition. I didn’t like this, I wanted to be number one when it came to viciousness, but for that moment, they took the title. The kid who got shot lived, he was just grazed and I remember saying to him later that night, “Oh shit man, you’re lucky to be alive…”

A couple of weeks later, me and my RFC soldiers were ten deep in club Melting Pot. I was fresh-to-death that night in a yellow and blue RL 2000 Polo Hi-Tech Ski coat with the matching vest under it and some snow goggles on to match. I remember walking through the black light with my gold teeth glowing feeling like a superstar. I can still envision that feeling of power, control and looking and feeling my best. It was like I was living a Hype Williams video on acid. The moment was just perfect — or so I thought. Shortly thereafter, I spotted some RNS kids. These motherfuckers just shot my boy’s partner in the head, and now here they are standing mere feet from where my whole crew was standing.

I don’t know what the hell I was drinking, but I approached these kids and ice-grilled ‘em to instigate an altercation. Some shit talking ensued and a brawl broke out. Within seconds the bouncers had tossed us out of the club. I noticed my man REST had a slash on his hand, but I didn’t notice my injury until my homegirl Liza said, “There’s a rip in the chest of your jacket.” I stuck my finger through the hole and put my finger inside my chest. I’d been stabbed and didn’t even know it.

No big deal. I went to the hospital, got stitched up, and continued to party all night back on West 3rd. We took a loss, but it was just one battle in a seemingly never-ending war.

But what was the purpose of the war? What were we fighting for and what were we trying to win exactly? Bragging rights? Street credibility? The right to say that I had permanently injured another teenager that talked, walked and looked just like me? In a way it was all pointless, but it was our whole universe at the time.

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CA lived on East 50th in between 3rd and 2nd Ave, nine blocks from Bloomingdales. We actually had beef at first. We would cross out each other’s tags and look for one another with the intentions of inflicting damage. Finally, we crossed paths. Terrified, I said, “Lets just be friends man,” and since that day we were inseparable.

CA was born to a loving, tough-as-nails Polish and Italian mother and a Haitian father — but he was essentially raised by his mother. The kid had a genius level IQ and went to quite a few choice schools that were almost impossible to get into, one of which being York Prep. He was a really good-looking kid and always got the girl. Back then I wanted to be like him in every way.

CA wanted more though. He wanted to be a part of the subcultures that he was exposed to by watching movies like The Warriors, Wild Style and Colors, so eventually he became entranced by hip hop and obsessed with writing graffiti. His mother Kathy did her best to keep him out of trouble, but CA was a “natural born killer.” He was the first kid in the crew with a gun, the first to set it and he never ran. CA was the kid that would walk by you in the street on some, “What the fuck you lookin’ at?” And if you replied with aggression, you would end up leaving in an ambulance with a gunshot wound or a razor slash. He gave me my heart and the courage to be a fearless soldier. I love him and his mother with all my heart.

Anyway, me and CA eventually started writing graffiti every day all over NYC. We hit subway tunnels, abandoned train stations, train yards and of course the streets. Graffiti and hip hop were my escape from a life of poverty. I would go bombing with Nas’s Illmatic playing in my Walkman and visualize and identify with his street tales as if they were my own.

I began robbing public and private school kids for their Starter jackets, hats and lunch money just so I could eat. If we weren’t robbing to survive we would go crew deep to supermarkets and steal food to make meals. This was the RFC way of life in the early ‘90s. Crime, violence and graffiti was the way of life we chose. The city was ours.

During our early stages of becoming full fledge hooligans, CA and I met Busta: a 6-foot 5, extremely volatile, violent individual with a heart of gold. Busta became the unofficial leader of the pack due to his size and willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty to cause damage. He also had a sharp, organized and business—oriented mind that eventually enabled most of the crew to benefit in many ways, financially and otherwise. When no one else was there for me, he was. Every time.

Downtown Celebs

Our home base was the corner of West 3rd Street and 6th Avenue in The West Village, in front of McDonald’s. That’s where we would meet, drink, smoke, fight and rob kids for their Polo, North Faces, wallets and jewelry. We would call the pay phone that still stands on that corner to this day, to see who’s out and what club was popping for the night. I still remember the number: 212-674-9444.

My crew and I set fashion trends; North Face, Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger, that all became popular in NYC in the ‘90s because we were rockin’ it. Even Polo gear; we all know that the Lo-Lifes started it and made it popular in the ‘80s, but in the ‘90s that was mostly RFC in them Indian-Head knits, Suicide Gooses and Teddy Bear pieces. I was a star in all the local nightclubs: Palladium, Arena, Fever, Velvet, Vertigo, House Nation and Melting Pot, just to name a few.

The main RFC crew members in order of hierarchy are as follows —

Founders: Rast and CA.
Presidents/Leaders: AOS, BUSTA, MISTRO, RISK and ARK (RIP).
First Lady: Jocelyn (only female member).

We had numbers and notoriety. We had major press coverage in prominent, national magazines. There was the “Teenage Gangland” piece by Nancy-Joe Sales in New York Magazine and a photo-spread on boosting in Stress Magazine. We also got burn in a number of graf magazines.

But what did this fame do to us as individuals? If you ask me, I think it made us worse because we were being celebrated for doing wrong. We were selling drugs and hanging out with models. It was fun at the time, but at the end of the day, where did it get any of us? Those models ended up in rehab and most of us ended up in jail.

It was fun though.

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