When I was coming up, a lot of people were getting addicted to crack. In Staten Island in the 80s, dealing was something that was going on in the neighbourhood and it was just a way to make some kind of money, to feed yourself and help your family.
I came from the bottom so those early days were just about trying to survive. Anybody could have been in my situation and would have been in the same state of mind. There are certain places where you don’t get opportunities, just because of where you’re from. They know your neighbourhood is a drug zone, or whatever you want to call it, and that makes it hard to get a job. That took me from wanting to do something positive to, like, damn, I tried this sh*t. I kept trying to go that way, I kept getting denied. When you’re bullied by politics, and you’re not allowed to be great, it’s only a matter of time before you lose patience. Selling drugs just happens, as a kid growing up in that situation.
The other way to escape the poverty was music. Music was a lifestyle for us, all part of growing up – carrying a radio, wanting to get fresh, going to other boroughs to go to clubs and house parties.
But you couldn’t just go down the end of the block and get a record deal. When we started to realise we were good at music, we didn’t know how to get into that world. There wasn’t any social media, so you had to figure it out – and you had to know somebody.
Luckily I got to know the RZA and it really happened overnight. I give all the credit to RZA because right from the door he loved to produce, loved to rap, loved to freestyle all these different things. And this made us want to do it – because he was dope and it was something fun to be involved with. I remember hanging out with RZA and him telling me I had a voice. He really steered me towards doing all of this primetime.