Monday, June 15, 2009

Charles Cosby

Griselda Blanco’s Man
By, Wendy Day (

Charles Cosby was more than the star of Cocaine Cowboys 2. He lived that story. He lived the good life. Griselda Blanco was a notorious Columbian Drug Lord in the 1980s, known for her ruthlessness. It’s amazing that she was not only a woman who was able to keep up with her male counterparts, but surpass them in many cases. Sitting comfortably in my living room, Charles shared the details of his life with such openness and candor that it was refreshing. As a woman who has dated incarcerated men, and as a woman with some small degree of power who has helped men build their companies and empires only to have them move on afterwards, my first question was a bit personal—“did you love her?”

And even though Charles assured me that he did love her, it wasn’t until he put her son, Michael Corleone, on the phone with me that I realized just how much he did love her. Charles still has a warmth and a deep affection for Griselda’s favorite son, even after all these years of not speaking with her. Michael, who grew close to Charles when he was dating his Mother, looks to Charles as a father figure. And although Griselda has gone back to Columbia, or Rio, or wherever she is, Michael and Charles still have a strong familial relationship. The love is apparent on both sides.

Charles Cosby’s story was honest, but that wasn’t difficult for him. It was like therapy for him to get it all off his chest. Griselda was a caring, generous, beautiful woman, and Charles fell in love with the woman behind the image. And she loved him very much and he felt the love completely.

Growing up in East Oakland, known as Anthony or Dot by his friends and family, his goal was to be a lawyer. But selling drugs at 16 years old allowed the money to quickly replace the legitimate dreams. In 1984, Charles was a mid-level drug dealer controlling a handful of crack houses. After his original distributor was murdered in 1985, it killed his business and his mentor. Charles moved 150 miles south to Fresno, CA where he soon ran out of money.

Upon returning to Oakland, he returned to the streets. In the mid-80s, drug dealers were rampant, even more so than now. There were no mandatory minimums for sentencing, snitches weren’t an issue, and one could call up the local dealer on the phone and place an order, even if you weren’t known to him. It was a different era. In February of 1985, Charles saw a television news clip of the arrest of the notorious Griselda Blanco. He was amazed at who she was, her tremendous power, and what she had built—it was everything he was trying to build for himself. She was known as the Godmother of Cocaine and the fact that she was a shot caller as a female was outstanding to him. Six years later, Charles met a Panamanian lady who had worked for Griselda in the past. After striking up a conversation, Charles convinced her to make the introduction to Griselda in prison. Charles wrote Griselda a heartfelt letter, and although he didn’t expect a response from her, he got one.

They wrote back and forth for a year, and Charles went to see her in person (1992). When she came out to visitation, she was dressed to the hilt in a bright red suit with red pumps, while every other inmate was dressed in khaki. Griselda, at 50 years old, looked more like a socialite than an inmate. Their relationship was based on letters, phone calls, and visits. Almost immediately, Griselda became his distributor. By the time Charles got home from the visit, two cardboard boxes arrived at his front door by special delivery--filled with bricks of cocaine. The focus of the relationship was business, but it became personal.

Charles went from making $40,000 to millions of dollars in 4 to 6 weeks. His life changed drastically. He was 22 or 23 years old. Griselda was a great teacher, keeping him focused and his ego in check. He spread throughout the Bay Area and northern California and became the distributor for his friends and friends of friends. He also ran errands for Griselda by being exposed to her network in NC, OH, VA, NY, Los Angeles. He met with distributors and acted as a mouth piece for her. She trusted him completely.

Charles became close to 2 of her 4 sons: Michael Corleone and Oswaldo. Charles was 10 years older than Michael and 3 years younger than Oswaldo, but they were like brothers. Griselda and Charles were together until 1996.

Charles met a woman named Amber in the visiting room of the prison. He began sleeping with her. When Griselda found out (she was still incarcerated), Charles was attacked with 12 warning shots which were intended to end his life. Oddly, it made Griselda and Charles closer, and made Charles realize how much Griselda loved him.

When Griselda had 18 months left of her incarceration, new murder charges were being filed against her and they were trying to put her on death row. Griselda was shook. She felt no Columbian had ever gotten a fair trial in the US. Her plan was to kidnap John F Kennedy, Jr. and Charles was not with the plan. Although speculation is that Charles rolled on her, he says that if his goal was to have her incarcerated, there were crimes he knew about that would have put her away for life, he didn’t have to expose a kidnapping plan.

Griselda was moved from California to Florida and Charles was subpoenaed to testify against Griselda. He wasn’t helpful to the prosecution because he felt she had done so much for him and his family. A secretary for the prosecution, on the day of his deposition, came to Charles’ hotel room and had sex with him. It came to light later on in the trial that this same secretary was having phone sex with the star witness against Griselda, thus disabling the Prosecution’s case. Griselda was offered a plea bargain and took it.

In June of 2004, Griselda was released from prison and deported immediately back to Bogata Columbia. After the statute of limitations passed, the directors of Cocaine Cowboys approached Charles to tell his story. He saw they were at the top of their game. Cocaine Cowboys 2 has been released into 52 countries and is available in WalMart, Target, etc, unlike Cocaine Cowboys which was a bit harder to find.

It took 15 months to put Cocaine Cowboys 2 together (Mark Cuban financed the movie), and it made Charles a star even though he’s remained humble. He’s not comfortable with the notoriety. At the screening of Cocaine Cowboys 2, the main question the press was asking Charles was didn’t he fear for his life that Griselda would have him assassinated. At that point, Charles introduced Michael Corleone as his special guest. If Griselda had a hit out on him, it wasn’t apparent.

Charles has written a book along with his biographer—an investigative journalist. Charles spends his time traveling between Los Angeles and Belize. His focus is on speaking to the youth. He doesn’t want them to follow his path because they will end up dead or in jail. He sees the danger of peer pressure in this materialistic society, but the penitentiary comes with those trappings of success.

I didn’t ask Charles if he snitched on Griselda. He volunteered the fact that he was subpoenaed and he had to go to Florida to testify—not a snitch move. Griselda received a copy of the film before anyone else saw the movie. Her only complaint about Cocaine Cowboys 2, according to Charles, was that it showed her murdered son, Oswaldo, in his casket.

When asked if he had any regrets, Charles thoughtfully said he wished he had continued in school and gotten his law degree. The idea of a white picket fence and a country club membership are looking real good to him now. But he’s thankful that he has a story to tell that might stop one or two people from going down the same path he chose.

Charles Cosby is an amazing and interesting man. And he’s sooooo much more than just Griselda Blanco’s (former) man.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Terrance "Gangsta" Williams

Whiiii! What's poppin' fam? Yeah, I address you as fam because you're street people like I was. Anybody that's getting money or bustin' his gun is my street fam.... the real recognize real.

Picture this fam.... I was laying back in the three man cell I was assigned to, which is too small for two people.. Anyway, I had the radio on and Lil Wayne's "Milli" song came on. All I could do was smile. I remember when the lil homie was in the studio back in 97'. He had a mini afro back then and he was writing a rap to go on the "Hot Boys" album, a name that I gave my brother to name the group... The Hot Boys name came from some real street Gangster's Dooney, Sterling, Mosquito, and me. All three are dead now. "No we didn't bust raps, we bust caps!!!"

I remember when Cash Money used to rent one raggedy bus to ride out of town to do concerts. I would be right there some of the times. Two guns and my bulletproof vest. While the C.M.R. Crew were entertaining people, I was hooking up heroin deals. The game was good to me. Well at least that's what we think, just because we are getting money, women are crazy about us, we riding in nice cars, wearing expensive jewelry, stacking money, busting our guns or paying someone to do it for us... the drug life is the life we all love until the Feds catch us. I know that's how I feel after ten years and four months in prison serving a life sentence.

Don't trip homie, the people haven't caught you yet so ball til you fall. But do you ever stop and think, that you are putting your family at risk? I know I didn't. And that's what led my mother to be shot. Actually the shooters were trying to kill my lil brother because they couldn't catch me. I know you may be thinking that you are too smooth to get caught slipping. "Oh yeah," well I thought that too.

I was shot in the left foot in 1991 while on the run from juvenile because I had escaped. I was stabbed in June of 1994, my lungs collapsed a month later. I was shot and lost a piece of my bladder and had to walk around with a colostomy bag on-- aka DooDoo bag for 23 months. The last time I was shot was in 1996, one of the bullets came out the front of my chest.

I played all the slick and kind roles in the game to deceive a person. Look at the picture of me holding my daughter. At that time I was attending Delgado Community College. By then, I had been arrested for Murder six times and plead guilty to Attempted Murder in 1993.

If you look at the picture that I'm eating the cookie ice cream you'll see I didn't have a mustache and my eyebrows are gone. That's because I had to dress like a woman to get to my victim. At that time I was young, so all the games you think is new, people before me has done and so on... The main thing that I trip off is we believe the world is ours while we are balling, but when we go to jail we call any and everybody to make bond or get us a lawyer.

Then we have the nerve to get mad at our woman when she leaves us once we get time. When you were free you came home when you got ready. You slept with any woman that let you. Yes indeed... I know you maybe thinking he just saying all this because he got caught. Yeah well, I'm doing enough time for everybody! And you still have a chance to get your life together. Even the ones that are thinking about selling drugs, trust me homie... it's a waste of time.

When you feel that you have to have those nice tennis shoes: Prada, Gucci, Polo, etc... or that you have to eat... so you say. Think about the people in Africa that don't have nothing. And most of all think about me. On June 24, 1999 the Judge sentenced me to LIFE plus 240 years! On March 6, 2002, the Judge re-sentenced me again to LIFE this time running the 20 years with the life...

Say no to drugs, stop the violence and be aware of HIV and AIDS...

Be on the lookout for my upcoming novel "The Other Side of Bourban Street."

If you have any questions you can write to me:
Terrance E. Williams 25958-034
2680 Hwy. 301-South
Jesup, Georgia 31599

Friday, March 7, 2008


Written by Rahiem Shabazz
Reprinted from The Hip Hop CoSign (

Monday, 25 February 2008

A day before the 42nd anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination, I found myself mourning the death of my brother Shams’ best friend and nephew’s godfather, Larry Davis aka Adam Abdul-Hakeem. My brother and Larry had big dreams of becoming musical icons in the early 80’s. But, that dreamed was deferred, when 30 NYC police officers came to assassinate him for reneging on a drug deal. Heavily armed police raided his sister Gina’s apartment capo style, with guns blazing. In an effort to defend him and family he fired at the police, wounding six police officers. At the age of 19, he took the NYPD on one of the biggest manhunt in the history of the state. After 17-days, he surrendered to authorities, fought the capital attempted murder charges against the police and was acquitted. However, he was convicted of weapon possession and sentenced to 5 to 15 years in prison.

When Larry opened fire on the murderous cops on that cold and chilly day back in November of 1986, he was exercising the principals of the Black Panther Party and their advocacy for the use of force against the state. This is same state that imprisoned political prisoner Mumia Abdul and Geronimo Pratt for 27 years before he was free.

I remember walking to the courthouse on 161st and Grand Concourse to support the family during of his earlier court proceedings and on the sidewall of the court were the words, “Death to Regan, Botha, Thatcher” and “Free Nelson Mandela & Larry Davis”.

The Black race apologist and front man for the police force are quick to delve into his teenage years to justify the police actions on the night of November 16, 1986. Many people are unaware of Larry’s history before his arrest. Larry and Shams started a record company to maintain as much control and ownership of their music. The two managed to release several records that sold considerably well in the New York City area. Larry and Sham literally sold records out the trunk of Larry’s car. They also traveled to different places to do shows and sold records at those shows. Sham used his connection to 98.7 KISS FM’s Kool DJ Red Alert to get airplay for their music. Eventually, their talents caught the attention of an artist manager named Bill Underwood who, at the time, was one of the few black men that held an executive position at a major record company. The company he worked for was Columbia Records.

Bill was so impressed with Larry and Sham’s skills that he offered the duo an exclusive production and recording contract with his label, Mozelle Records. He also paid for the two teenagers to go into a professional recording studio so they could develop songs for several other recording artists, including the popular R&B singer Johnny Gill, who was signed to Bill’s management company.

“When all that shit jumped off, the press said everything they could that was negative. They said he was a hit man. They said he was a vigilante. They called him the “crack city terminator”… “When was on the run, they already creatin’ a climate that would justify them just goin’ and straight killin’ him. I know him. This is a man that took me off the streets when I was homeless. He had tears in his eyes and did everything he could to help my situation”, states Shams.

I remember a conversation my brother and myself had a few years ago, I asked him, “If the November 16, 1986 event didn’t happen, where would he and Larry be in terms of the music industry today?” He candidly replied, “Larry would be Suge Knight and he would be Russell Simmons.”

Plans were and still are underway for several business ventures i.e. books, movies and merchandising of t-shirts, hoodies and the now famous Larry Davis bomber, with all proceeds to benefit The Free Larry Davis Fund and his family. While the media remained clueless with little to none reports coming out, I wondered why? My brother quickly informed me that “he never heard of a skillful general who intends to surprise a citadel announcing his plans to this enemy.”

Many people claiming to know Larry never even met the man and speak from inconsequential hearsay. The interest in his life has been fitful and will increase more due to his passing. Only those who walked or inhibit the grim streets of the South Bronx know the reality of dirty policeman that deal drugs, murder citizens and extort drug dealers. In the last few days I witness the media betrayed this man as a monster who murder people in cold blood. The only thing Larry was guilty of is refusing to be a victim of police brutality like Abner Louima or murdered like Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell.

The celebrated case made national history and showed the lawlessness of the police. With the help of famed Attorney William Kunstler (Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, Martin Luther King) and Lynne Stewart and others, Larry was able to beat the quadruple homicide charges, plus the attempted murder of the nine police officers. But, they convicted him on a murder he did not do and charged him with possession of an illegal firearm.

We do know the name of the alleged assailant is Luis Rosado, a fellow Latin King serving 25 years to life for murder, assault and other crimes. What we do not know is if he was killed over ephemeral beef of ambiguous origins? The truth must be told. But, until then my brother lost a comrade and best friend and my nephew a godfather. Instead of mourning and sitting in grief over the lost, I decided to let life’s primal energies surge out through my pen and educate some folks on the true American Gangster, R.I.P. Larry Davis.

*** For more information of Larry Davis view the award winning documentary “Routine Typical Hit”.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Calvin Klein (Brooklyn, NY)

No Reasonable Doubt
By, Wendy Day from Rap Coalition

Calvin Klein. When you leave the slick streets of Manhattan’s fashion district, and travel across the Brooklyn Bridge to the grimy streets of B’klyn, the name no longer symbolizes a fashion icon. Calvin Klein is street certified, gangster certified, and a well respected man on the streets of New York. He is the subject of the raps of many a Brooklyn rapper and wanna-be gangstas, but is probably most famous as the subject of some of Jay Z’s rhymes.

“Never felt more alive than riding shotgun in Klein’s green 5, til the cops pulled guns…” (from Allure).

One of the things about rap artists that make them so special is that they are able to retell the stories of street lords from a unique rhyming perspective. They seamlessly soak up stories of those around them and then spit them back out in rhyme form, sometimes taking credit for the exploits they’ve seen. Fantasy and story telling are what every rapper excels at. Retelling stories that fascinate the fans and listeners is their job—it’s entertainment. But to turn another man’s life and history into one’s own, especially without paying homage, is unacceptable.

In our community, we focus on “keeping it real.” Authenticity is king. So how did one of our most popular rap icons make it to the King of Rap status, while turning a blind eye to a man whose street exploits were told and retold to help get him his position on the throne? I, personally, have issue with any person who doesn’t support friends who are locked down, but it especially resonates as ugly when that incarcerated man may be the basis of many stories that inspired songs that created an empire.

Calvin Klein is a street dude. He’s the kind of street dude that the alphabet boys get a hard-on over while dedicating their lives and careers to putting away forever. In and out of prison since he was 15, Klein caught an attempted murder case in Maryland with a young Jay-Z that had him looking at a 45 year bid, if convicted. Klein sat down to serve out his plea bargain, one that he claims earned Jay his freedom (he also alleges paying $50,000 to get Jay Z dropped from the case because he knew Jay had a future as a rapper).

Those of us who have lived in NY are well aware of Calvin Klein and his contributions to the streets in Brooklyn. One couldn’t think of Marcy Projects without thinking of Klein and his partner Danny (RIP), since they controlled all of Marcy Housing at one time. So this story is not surprising, nor is it news to us. As Klein was incarcerated (14 years), however, we all just knew he’d come out of jail to take his rightful place somewhere within Jay Z’s empire. At the very least, he was guaranteed a check. It was a given! Sadly, this never came to pass. Klein has been very vocal about his experiences with Jay-Z, and claims to be yet another person in the long list of folks that Jay-Z has not done right by.

I caught up with Calvin Klein while he was on tour with one of Akon’s artists, so I could ask him about what went down and how it has affected him. Akon, who hails from New Jersey, was man enough to offer Klein a position within his empire. He stepped up when Jay-Z failed to do so, although he never ran with Calvin Klein, never caught a charge with Calvin Klein, never had Calvin Klein buy his way out of a jam, nor were any of his songs based on the life stories and exploits of Calvin Klein. (Apparently doing the right thing just runs in Akon’s DNA).

Wendy Day: Before we get into the whole Jay-Z situation, I’d like to talk about what kind of man you are. There are a lot of people in my life (and in the music business) who have similar backgrounds and life experiences as you, but you seem to be very enlightened, very evolved, extremely together in how you think. You are a good muthaphukka—very real, with a lot of heart. People love you! It’s hard to find anyone with a bad word about Calvin Klein. How is it that you are such a strong human being and a true leader?

Calvin Klein: My dream was and is to have everyone around me have what I have. That’s what leadership is. I didn’t wanna have a lot of things by myself that they didn’t have as well.

Wendy: That’s the way it’s supposed to be, but that’s very rare. A lot of people in the music business who claim to be “from the streets” seem to only care about themselves and the “almighty dollar” and fuck everybody else. You said it best in your interview at You said, “You can’t have an army that’s fighting a war for you and not feed them. If you have a bunch of people on the battlefield that haven’t eaten, that means they are fighting starving, and won't put up a good fight. I m not saying don’t like Jay the artist, I'm just questioning the person.”

Klein: When you get a lot of money though, it shouldn’t be a problem to share it with others and pretty much touch the lives of others as well. You know, they are the ones who help make it for you too. You know how most people say that their boss treats them like shit? They say that if they ever become a boss, they’ll know how to treat their employees better. But when that time comes, they wind up treating their employees worse than their boss treated them. They dish out the abuse given to them and they don’t even realize that they became worse than the person who did the worst thing to them.

Wendy: You said it best in your interview at You said, “You can’t have an army that’s fighting a war for you and not feed them. If you have a bunch of people on the battlefield that haven’t eaten, that means they are fighting starving, and won't put up a good fight. I m not saying don’t like Jay the artist, I'm just questioning the person.”

Also, some people don’t accept the fact that others played a part in their success. They are in denial. They don’t realize that other people helped them get where they are. They make themselves think that they were the only one. You gotta look at their upbringing too. If they were brought up poor and broke, then they feel they got what they are supposed to have, as if they got that on their own, and nobody helped them get what they have. They believe others have to go and do what they did to get their own. They don’t believe in team work anymore.

Once a person gets to a certain level in their life, they change. In some ways you have to change, you know. Look at MC Hammer. I compliment MC Hammer 100% because he was for the cause. But at the end of the day, I kinda somewhat felt disappointed by the fact that he couldn’t keep what he had. You could help the hood; you could help the people--you know he was someone that helped a lot of people that came from jail. But at the end of the day, you still have to maintain your business. I never spend something once if I can’t afford to spend it twice.

Wendy: That’s excellent advice. You know Hammer’s actually a great example. He’s somebody that could teach the up and coming kids “ok, don’t do this, don’t do that”. He learned that lesson to teach others. I see in him an even more valuable lesson, where he has learned to go within himself. He no longer needs to have the 30 bedroom house with the gold front doors. He lives in Oakland, in a normal size house with his wife and kids and he’s happy. He’s happy with himself, he’s happy with his family, and he’s happy with his lifestyle. He has built an existence where happiness is more important to him than the materialistic shit.

Klein: You know why? Because he been through everything already. He’s been through a great majority of things there are to go through in life. Even for myself, I felt I wasn’t happy, you know, I had plenty of money. But I wasn’t happy. I mean money didn’t make me happy and wise because the people around me-- I didn’t understand why they were around. You know, what reason were they around? Like, what was their purpose; what was the real reason they were around me? Because they were into the movement, or because of the money?! Anybody can get money with you. It’s a big deal for me on who I bring into my inner circle. I don’t just let anybody in. I’m very selective on who I let come to my home, and I’m very selective on who I bring around my family. I’m very selective on everything really.

Wendy: I agree. You should be. You’re only as strong as your weakest link. You can only be as good as the people you have in your circle.

Klein: Uh Huh! Yes. There aren’t many real people these days, like, you got guys like Jimmy Henchmen, you have guys like Clark Kent, you know what I mean, they are a rare breed. You don’t even have guys any more that you could go to and have conversation with that have some sort of substance to it. I feel myself talking to myself half the time (laughing). You know, I’ll jump on the highway and have a conversation with myself. I won’t even be going anywhere, you know, I’ll get on the highway and drive and when I’m finished talking to myself, I’ll turn back around (still laughing). You know I’m like, wow (laughs) I needed that you know. Then when I get home I tell myself, thank you.

Wendy: Exactly, it’s the way you bust a mental nut (laughs).

Klein: The sad part for many, like a lot of people, they know my leadership. They know my capabilities and they know that once I came home a lot of things would open up. Because you have guys like, you have Jay Z, Puffy, you have a list of guys, I’ll just say the guys from New York that sit on a billion dollars. It’s like four people. Let’s use four people, as an example, and not to take anything from them, but most of them didn’t come from the street.

So now when the street is in a crisis or the streets are in some sort of a dilemma, they don’t understand. Their thinking is: “Why do you want me to help you? I don’t come from where you come from”. They aren’t there to help anyone. Puffy doesn’t know how to help anybody. Jay Z doesn’t know how to help anybody. Then, its like at the same time, they take on the lives of the people that they looked up to. Maybe Puffy took up the life to live like the Rich Porters and maybe the Nikki Barneses, you know what I’m saying? And the Frank Lucases and everybody else.

And you goin’ down the line and that’s just some borough-- Puffy acts like the legends of his borough. Jay Z in some ways tried to act like the legends of his borough. So when Jay Z talks about people, who does Jay Z have to talk about, other than that, who lived that lifestyle on that level-- other than myself, other than Danny (not clear on last name) other than maybe one or two other people?

Wendy: But Klein, they didn’t get the full picture. It’s as if they took just the pieces that they wanted. They’re not fully educated because they didn’t actually live that lifestyle. So they got a lot of the materialistic lessons but they didn’t get a lot of the life lessons. It’s just funny that you picked those two people as examples. They’re great businessmen. They’re great empire builders. They may even be great CEOs of companies. And when you look at Puff, he’s a great music man. But are they successful human beings? Are they truly great leaders as people?

Klein: All that comes from like guys like myself, because we missed the opportunity because of being away. You have a lot of guys that are original. You have a lot of guys that are somewhat kinda smart. If we stood the test of time, and we were able to be free at the time when the transition changed—because at the end of the Eighties, change came. Like any era, time has to turn, for better or worse. The opportunity for Blacks to either not sell drugs or to not bounce a basketball, turned into the music industry. And when it turned into the music industry, it went into the nineties. Now you got the Calvin Kleins that are in jail for 25 years, that’s locked up and got sentenced to 25 years. You have the Dannys that got killed in the Eighties. You’ve got a lot of guys that were real, who got killed in the Eighties and/or went to jail in the Nineties. So the Nineties were open with no leadership.

For all the thorough females and for all the Gangsta girls, the ratio of guys was like 2 guys to 10 girls. There was nobody left out here. Even having the opportunity to start from the beginning, when Puffy didn’t have anything, and Jay Z didn’t have anything, they were given a chance. They got to try something new. They got to emulate the new Puffy, or the new Jay Z, or the guy that’s working a 9 to 5 job. Most of the girls out there didn’t have that--they had the gangsta dude, they had a gangsta nigga. They had a hustla.

Then all of a sudden, it’s OK that this dude is talking like this, because he reminds her of her man. He talks about bustin’ guns and all that. But her man who used to do all that didn’t have that sort of savvy, he didn’t have that sort of aura. He didn’t have that sort of style, that glitz, and that glamour, or all of that stuff that’s built around that: the fa├žade, the Hollywood look, you know what I’m saying. All that. All that came into play where now all of the sudden you see Jay in videos throwin’ money out of cars. And JD throwin’ money out of cars and all this. And now its like they accept this. You feel me?

Wendy: Yeah! Because they can be flashy because they won’t go to jail. Somebody on the streets can’t be that flashy cuz they’re going down.

Klein: Yeah.

Wendy: So they have the ability to floss and be so flamboyant….

Klein: Uh huh. Exactly!

Wendy: …just from the nature of what they do. But I never understood why folks like Puffy and Jay that had access to the Jimmy Henchmens didn’t learn from him. I mean Jimmy was locked down, it was a period of about four years, you know towards the end of the nineties. But they didn’t seem to learn. Its like, and I have to be careful what I’m saying because I’m recording right now, but it’s like Puff can turn to someone like a Jimmy and say “I’m in trouble, save my life. Here’s two million dollars” or whatever amount he deems sufficient. But he couldn’t say, “thank you for the life lesson or teach me a life lesson, or here’s what’s going on, how do I make sure that this never happens again?”

Klein: I mean I understand what you saying, but for Puffy to do that, for Jay to do that, they do that all day. They do anything and will say anything to get out of harm’s way situation--anybody in their right mind would do that. So I’m not even gonna say just them. But at the end of the day, here’s 2 million dollars, here’s a 100 thousand dollars, here’s a 100 dollars. In that sense it really doesn’t matter, but at the end of the day its like now, as soon as you get away from that situation, don’t start talking tough away from harm’s way. I mean if anything, just leave well enough alone and let it go and be good with it.

Wendy: And learn from it. Don’t go and repeat it 20 minutes later in another area.

Klein: There’s nothing wrong with someone not being a man. If you not a man, you not a man. So you just a shell of a man. But you’re not a man for real. You know, and that’s the difference between a lot of the rappers. Jay Z is like a prime example. Why have money if you don’t know what to do with it?

Wendy: Right.

Klein: I mean, why put yourself in a position to have so much money, and not know what to do with it? What are you here for? What sort of blessings are you really trying to get? Like me, I know how to hustle. Some people don’t know how to hustle. So when I came home, it wasn’t a surprise to me that Jay didn’t do anything because I was prepared for that if it didn’t happen. See that’s the good thing about it: me and Clark (DJ Clark Kent) talked for the last four years of my bid and Clark was telling me don’t expect anything from him. If he do something, then he gonna do it. But don’t expect anything from him.

So, when I came home, the first phone call I got was from Kevin Chiles (publisher of Don Diva Magazine) while I was in the halfway house. To my surprise, my second phone call came from Jay immediately. So I’m like, wow, ok, what’s up. He was more than open arms, wanting to talk with me, asking me what I wanted to do and telling me, “Oh, I got you!!” He was impressed at how my name was all over the streets. The buzz about me being home was crazy! He was telling me how I was the biggest thing in life right then. He was saying that everybody and their mama was talking about me being home.

All I've ever been was a man, so it’s not surprising to me that I’m getting the blessings and the love that I’m receiving from the streets. It’s always a deep breathe of fresh air when somebody real come home. Like come on, how many stories are we really gonna keep talking about--movies like New Jack City, now Frank Lucas, and all these stories being told by niggas that’s being rats or niggas that’s snitchin’. At the end of the day, I can place everything that’s done if it’s straight realness, and if its gangsta.

But then at the end of the day, I don’t care if you tell on police, it’s not loyal to me to tell on nobody. On nobody period. I could care less, I don’t care if you the DA, if you the DEA, if you the police. Whatever you are. If you a nigga on the streets and I don’t like you and you my enemy, that’s not a choice to make if you a straight up man. Some people think that if he ain’t family, or if he ain’t peoples, or if he ain’t this, and he ain’t that, it’s OK to talk. It ain’t never OK. I’m not gonna say I’m the only one that stands on grounds with that one, because I know a few other people that feel the same way. At the end of the day, come on man.

Wendy: I’m right with you on that. It doesn’t matter if they’re family, it doesn’t matter if you don’t fuckin’ know ‘em.

Klein: If you’re not a snitch, you are not a snitch. That’s just the way it is. You know I got locked up and I copped out to 25 years. I didn’t have anything to do with the case. Only thing they had me on was a phone conversation. The most you could get on a phone conversation was four years. And I had to cop out to 25, why? Because I wouldn’t tell on anybody.

Wendy: Right! And you shouldn’t have. You knew when you entered that life that this is what could happen. That’s the price you pay in that world—the risk you take.

Klein: My choice was death or jail, you know what i’m sayin? You know, that’s what it was!

I have so many positive things that’s going on for me now. I got have a book coming out sometime next year. The book is actually called--and this the first time I’m actually saying this though, but I plan on calling the book, Beyond A Reasonable Doubt.

Wendy: OK. Do you want that out there?

Klein: Yeah you can put that out there. I’m kinda mad though cuz Damon Dash already used it for the title of the CD that he got online for Jay. It didn’t get leaked out to him or nothing like that, it’s just ironic that he came out with the same title. Regardless whether Dame used the name or not though, it will still be a good look to use that name.

Wendy: They’re two different things. One’s a book, and one’s a record. You have two different, but similar, issues.

Klein: The reason why I chose that name is because I feel that the story was misinterpreted the way Jay told it. I think the story wasn’t told the way it was supposed to be told. As a character, on his part anyway, the story was told very well. It made sense, but when it started getting personal with him telling the story as if he was using “I” rather than using a particular person as in me, or even “we,” or “us,” it got misconstrued in a lot of ways.

Wendy: Right. Because it was told through his eyes instead of the real person’s eyes who lived it—yours.

Klein: Exactly. You know, exactly.

Wendy: And how cool it is that the actual eyes are still there to tell the story.

Klein: Yeah, it’s cool to tell the story if you tell it the way it’s supposed to be told. But don’t tell the story and make it seem as if you were the man in the hood, and you had the hood on smash--like you had it on lock down, you had niggas shootin’ up for you, and you was bustin’ your gun putting work in. Or like you had the strongest drug on the block and all that other stuff. I liked the Jay Z that was the—what did he call himself before Jay Z? Um, not The Slim-- it was something he used to call himself. Wow, I forgot what he called himself when he first started coming up-- when he was trying to be on some pimp shit.

Wendy: (laughs)

Klein: (laughs) You know what I’m sayin’, I liked that person-- that rapper. This is a type of dude you know, but when a person gets to a certain level you can’t stop them. He’s unstoppable now. He has 3 million fans, so at the end of the day, it’s like 3 million fans are gonna go to bat for you. When it’s time to go to bat, they are gonna go to bat for you.

I mean, I couldn’t even explain to his fans what sort of lifestyle he had. Because they don’t wanna hear that. That’s their hero so for anyone to attack their hero, they don’t wanna hear that. My story ain’t for Jay Z fans who want to believe the fantasy. My story is for what’s real and what’s left out there. That’s more than three million fans.

You know they are going to read my book. I guarantee it. Everyone of Jay Z’s fans is going to read my book cuz I guarantee Jay Z will read my book. Promise you that.

Wendy: So Klein, what happened between that phone call when you came home when he was like, “what do you wanna do i’m here for you,” and now? Why did he not step up?

Klein: You know I went to Def Jam and had a meeting with Jay. Me and him, we talked—well, actually, we didn’t exactly have a meeting. I went up there and imposed myself on him. I take “the meeting” part back.

Wendy: (laughs) So you had a meeting, but he had a shake down.

Klein: (laughing) A shake down. Yeah, I went up there and had a shake down with Jay. But still to this day I would really, really like to know what happened. To be honest with you, we had the conversation, and we talked a couple of times after that, but then I started getting phone calls from Ty Ty, his little sidekick, instead of Jay Z himself. And I do have a better relationship with Ty Ty.

Jay recently said in an interview with XXL Magazine (when he got to the part where he’s talking about me), that he only knows me through a friend of a friend. That part I still don’t understand: where he knows me from a friend of a friend. But even if he did know me through a friend of a friend, and I don’t want to keep using this as a contradiction to what he says, but you know when we was in Maryland--it takes on situation that can change a person’s life for the better or for the worse. At the end of the day, you made a statement because that’s how you felt. Jay said he “never felt more alive then riding shot gun in Klien’s green Five, til the cops pulled guns.” Now, at that point, that was the greatest feeling in your life. You admired me, you idolized me. Everything else, where you could just look at me from a distance and admire and take away from me, you did that. You can’t say that you know me from a friend of a friend and get away with that one. That one don’t even sound right. But you know he’s Presidential. He’s one of the greatest rap presidents in the rap industry that I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

Wendy: Huh? Why?

Klein: He’s very presidential. When he does his interviews now, even the one he did with Angie Martinez on HOT 97, he stayed away from talking about me. Which is cool. I’m a man with great pride-- extreme pride. And Jay knows that. We can’t get on the same court. I’m fighting to win with heart. He’s fighting to win with money. I guess I’m fighting with money, too, but his $300 million doesn’t compare to the amount that I have or compare to my heart.

Wendy: You’re fighting is what’s right.

Klein: Well, not even what’s right, cuz what’s right don’t even matter to most people anymore these days. A lot of people try to position themselves to get close to Jay for some sort of gain that they can receive from him. I’m a hustler, so I can gain from others. I can gain from Jay’s partner. I can get with anybody else with that type of money. Jay is not the only one with that type of money. I have investors right now that make moves for me, and that’s what he had: people who believed in him and were willing to make moves for him to get him to where he’s at right now. So now, I look at it like this: judge me in 10 years.

Wendy: The difference is that I don’t think your going to shit on your investors.

Klein: I don’t know how too. I don’t know how to shit on anybody I get money with. I don’t know how to do that, that’s not in me. I’m not built like that. As far as me to even think I could shit on my investors, that’s just not me. That’s not my style, not my character. That’s none of me. That’s why I attract so many people and that’s why people open up their doors to me. It’s foolish for Jay to have turned his back. I don’t know what his reasons are. Only one who knows that is really him. But like I said, I would really like to know myself because all of a sudden I’m talking to this guy and he’s talking about what he’s gonna do and that he’s gonna do this and he’s gonna do that. I think the streets put a lot of pressure on him. People might have been saying “Klein is pressing Jay or Jay only doing it just because he don’t want Klein to put his foot on his neck.” Jay probably just kept hearing a lot of negative shit and maybe it was a little bit too much for him to deal with, so he kinda backed up and told Ty Ty to deal with me as best as he could. Honestly I think that’s what it was. But then again, men don’t get nothing done when one person that’s supposed to be a man don’t come to the table. War is always gonna be until men talk to stop the war.

Wendy: I don’t know if this helps you or not, but I have a friend who had an artist that Jay supposedly wanted to sign. He ended up not signing that artist because he didn’t want other people to think my friend, who has a reputation as a gangster, strong armed him into giving that artist the deal. So what Jay did to you may not have been personal at all.

Klein: Yeah but that’s the same thing I just said about myself. Jay don’t want nobody-- like you got Jaz-O, you got other guys that’s close to Jay-- that should be close to Jay, but Jay don’t want them close to him because they have too much. .Jay took too much of them into him. When you look at Jazz you like, damn, Jay act so much like this dude. If Jay stands next to me, you’ll even say Jay kinda looks like me, we favor each other a lil bit. You might even stand him next somebody else and say damn there’s so many similarities. Jay doesn’t even know who he is. He lost his identity of being who he is. He was a good dude. You’d be surprised, Jay was once a good dude.

I’m still shocked, still to this day. That would be the only thing that would bother me if I wasn’t sitting so good in my life. My life is good, I can’t complain. My bed is very big. So I’m good.

Wendy: You sound happy. Every time I talk to you, you sound happy.

Klein: Yeah, I’m blessed. For the most part, I’m breathin’ free air. I mean the air actually costs though, but I’m actually out here breathin’ air.

Wendy: I so get that (laughs). And how come you’re not institutionalized? You’ve done long bids.

Klein: You know why I’m not institutionalized? Because I didn’t allow myself to be in jail when was there. When I was in jail I refused to let the system make me hate my friends and I had refused to let the system make me hate other things around me. So I didn’t hate it the way a lot of other people probably did. I accepted where I was at. I knew that I did wrong in my life and I have a strong belief in God. I’m a very strong believer but sometimes I didn’t follow it, but I’m still a believer.

And at the end of the day I accepted that although I didn’t cause the crime to a certain extent to get where I was at, I accepted it and told God “Listen, if this is the punishment for what I’ve done in my life, thank you.” I was happy because I was like, “this is all you given me? Thank you.” I had deserved so much more. Even in the worst time of my life and what people would assume would be the worst time of my life, you still blessed me with such little time. Because at the worst, I was probably never supposed to be seen in the streets again. So now I’m here for a reason, there’s a purpose. I’m not out here to get in the way. I’m not lost in the new era because I studied while I was there. I stayed in tune with who Jay had become. I stayed in tune with who I saw Puffy become, and on down the line.

In order for me to be great, I had to watch those whom I thought were great within the industry that I thought I was gonna come out and get into. I watched Puffy, I watched Jay, I watched Master P, I watched Cash Money and them. I watched all the dudes that was coming up when they was doing they thing. I watched every one of them. I read about every one of them, I pulled their files. So I knew where they were from. At the end of the day, I knew what it was gonna take for me to come home.

Just like Michael Jordan, he came back at 45. He ain’t come back shootin’ the way he shot before. But he got comfortable in his game when he knew he couldn’t dunk no more. He had to take a different approach to the game and that’s exactly what I did.

I took a different approach. I didn’t come to New York for almost a year. New York is a jungle. The streets is a jungle, I didn’t start moving around in the streets for almost a year.

Wendy: Wow.

Klein: Come on, 13 years difference? I’m a different person.

Wendy: So are the streets.

Klein: And the streets are different. I came home with the mindset that I don’t owe the streets anything and the streets don’t owe me anything. I’m not in the way of the streets and I don’t want the streets to get in my way. Because the moment I make the exception in getting in the way of the streets, then that’s when I would resort mentally to being who I used to be. I mean, you couldn’t put the real Calvin Klein in the industry, they ain’t ready for that. So unfortunately, I had to water myself down to be accepted. If anything, at worst case scenario, I think I might have made a mistake doing that. You know, I just need to be who I am and whoever embraces that, embraces that and if not, then fuck ‘em.

I got so much going on. I got the book deal going on, I got a movie situation going on you know I got a new company right now, I got a hotel booking agency that’s crazy… all I deal with is like exclusive artists and elite people in the industry. It’s not even just the music industry. I deal with 5 star people. My service deal was nothing but like 5 star people doing like 100 rooms a month type shit. I’ve got a hell of a company that I just recently started and it’s doing extremely well.

Wendy: Are you gonna start a label?

Klein: I don’t know, I mean, I would have to find an artist that’s really to my complete satisfaction. If I got interest, then I would consider it. I was considering it when I came home but I got more into it because of other people’s interest in wanting to get involved with it a li’l bit quicker than I cared to. What I really had hoped was to at least get up under Jay for about 6 months and really learn what the industry was about and just pretty much learn from him. I didn’t want nothing from him, I just wanted to learn from him. That’s probably one of the only things that I will say I was disappointed about. That I just didn’t get to learn from him. Ya know, be close enough to learn from him, that’s it. He didn’t owe me nothing. He didn’t owe me nothing when I left. He didn’t owe me nothing when I came back.

Wendy: There are actually better people you could learn from. Jay’s on another level right now. You would’ve gotten to see a lot of the politics that are in the industry but you also would’ve gotten to see a lot of the grime and stuff that wouldn’t affect your day to day, so it would be a waste for you. There are just better people for you to affiliate with if your trying to learn. I think Akon is a better move. He’s closer to the street as opposed to running a major label.

Klein: Yeah I do that with Kon all the time. I do it with Jimmy (Henchmen) and I do it with Clark (Kent). When I get stuck or something like that and I need somebody to talk to, Akon’s a phone call away, Clark Kent’s a phone call away, Jimmy Henchmen is a phone call away. I can wake these dudes up in the middle of the night or in the wee hours of the morning and call ‘em and talk to ‘em and get their advice that’s necessary or needed in order for me to move forward.

I capitalize all the time. Every time they talk I capitalize, even if I just get in a regular conversation with them in the daytime.

Wendy: And that’s just a better vantage point. Jay Z is not on a level where it can benefit you. You’re just going to see a lot of shit that isn’t going to help you, unless your goal is to run a Def Jam or a Universal, or something like that—a publicly traded company.

Klein: Mmmm hmmmm. Yeah, true.

Wendy: You are so eloquent and you have so much to say. You have the ability to take complex thoughts and break them down clearly for others to understand. This is a gift!

Klein: Thanks. My goal is to just not become the old Calvin Klein. I don’t ever want to slip back into who I used to be. That’s probably the only thing in life I fear!!

In fairness, I did NOT get Jay Z’s input, opinion, or side of the story in writing this story. After hearing similar stories over the years from Jaz-O, Dehaven, Karim Biggs, and Damon Dash, I lost the stomach to speak with NY’s king of rap. This magazine, I’m sure, would be happy to publish any comments Mr Carter deems worthy to make. I would also be happy to then interview Damon, Biggs, Jaz, and Dehaven afterwards.

Klein will never go down in history as “the guy that Jay Z jerked.” He has built a strong empire for himself in the travel industry, and now that he is putting shit out there, like-minded folks are attracting to him and bringing into fruition even more positive things for Klein. Jay Z is merely just one small chapter that appears very early in the book that Calvin Klein calls the story of his life.

Huge thanks goes out to my awesome assistant, Ace, for transcribing hours of taped conversations with Calvin Klein. Without her, this interview would not be what you see here! For the entire article, see my website: or or

Klein, I’m nor sure which one of these sites I will set up to post this….most likely Real Street Legends. Not sure I see an upside for you for folks continuing to label you a Gangsta (or a nightmare, for that matter). I see how it stops some of Jimmy’s money to continue being called a gangster, and I don’t want that to happen to you.