Before I go into a specific incident that scarred me for life, I feel it is necessary to explain how karma played a huge part in this life-changing event.
My brother and I would bicker back and forth over bullshit; fighting like cats and dogs in the graffiti covered bedroom we shared in the Bronx. One day we were fighting and he bruised my ego pretty badly. At that time I had various guns in the house and that day I pulled one out, right in front of my mother, and placed it directly on his chest and pulled the trigger. I am brought to tears when I write about this…Luckily, there were no bullets in the chamber. But as he left the apartment, I shot at him out the window. I nearly killed my own brother. I am so ashamed of this fact. There is no excuse or explanation that can do this injustice justice.
About a week later, me and some of the crew were in the Village. I was 14 at the time and draped in some crazy ill Tommy Hilfiger print button-up. I had just come from hittin’ up a local liquor store and I was walking down West 3rd Street with a huge bottle of Absolut Vodka down my pants. I was lagging behind everyone because I was limping due to the bottle. As we reach McDougal Street I notice like 15 dudes from WON Team (a bunch of crazy, mostly Spanish and black kids from the LES). Now my crew didn’t even notice that this was the main crew we had beef with at the time and they didn’t know that my guys were RFC, so they walked right past each other — until they saw me. Everybody recognized me wherever I went because I had long dreadlocks. This was not always a good thing. I remember looking into the eyes of one of the WON Team kids that I knew from when I was like, ten years old. That’s when he pointed me out to another kid who started viciously slashing my face.
My face changed forever. I was deeply traumatized by this because I was always praised for my looks as a “pretty boy.” I even turned down many modeling opportunities because back then I felt that male models were “pussies.” I regret those decisions now. The whole crew went insane after I was cut. My man even slashed one of the WON Team’s girlfriends in the face because of what happened to me. Now, as I reflect back on how deeply and psychologically affected I was by my face being slashed, I can only imagine how this innocent girl must feel living with such a severe facial scar. Even to this day, as a professional, I wonder if people look at me and say, “Look at him, he’s probably been to jail,” or, “I wonder what he did to deserve that?” The truth is, I didn’t deserve this. Nor did that innocent young girl, but it happened. And now we must live forever with these reminders of a dark past that stares back at us in the mirror.
After I got cut, I became even more of a “menace to society,” cutting, stabbing and shooting everything. I just didn’t care anymore. My drug use increased, I was smoking PCP every day and I carried a gun and a razor wherever I went.
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.
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).
Generals/Soldiers: FA (RIP), CASH, DEAL, SABE, SESA, RAY 1, DOUG, ARES, PRT, ASH, PRESS, FOES, BUDA, SEDI (RIP), FED-5, GUESS, ARGUE (RIP), ESO, KEM, DOMS, BETO, EJ, DOA, VAST, KEL and all of 5MH, ESKAY 5×7, REST and SHAZ.
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.