I started this day off like I do most days. Hustlenomics. Rent due… gotta hustle! Kids need daipers… gotta hustle… Need music equipment to make beats with… gotta hustle! That was my theme from 1992. Before I met 2pac and started my career as a music producer, I hustled to get what I needed. the music equipment that I made beats with, food, rent… hustle!
My name is Truman Jefferson, and when all of this started, I was a 22-year old music producer in the making living in an East Oakland apartment with my wife and two kids.
The neighborhood I stayed in was aiight. It was always shit goin’ on though. Shootin’s, dude downstairs fightin’ wit his chick ‘cause they both drunk & triflin’. Cat down the street wanna shoot up shit ‘cause he mad at the world. Typical East Oakland.
My apartment was a second-floor walk-up in a small tri-plex close to the corner of 46th Avenue and Bancroft, not too far from drama-filled E.14th St. Even with all the bullshit goin’ on, it still had a certain kind of charm. And even when sometimes the only view was of the tenants in the apartment building next door living their parallel lives with as much self-importance as I lived my own, it was still cool though. That was basically the beginning but hey, as they say, the devil’s in the details.
Well, I’ll get to it then.
It was a Saturday morning in August… summertime in East Oakland. My favorite time of year. Especially when I wake up to the sun beaming through my window on a beautiful summer morning. That’s the kind of weather that just inspires my creativity.
I had just gotten in the house not more than a few hours ago from takin’ a long ass A.C.Transit bus ride, on the #40 bus, from the spot where I hustle at near Telegraph & Durant Avenue a few blocks away from the U.C. Berkeley college campus in Berkeley, California all the way to East Oakland ‘cause my car wasn’t startin’. And I hate the fuckin’ bus! It’s always some stankin’ ass, dirty ass, grimy ass person wanna sit right next to you like it ain’t no other seats empty on the bus, when there’s hella empty seats right by.
And the weight from the two Glock 19’s I was carryin’ didn’t make matters much easier either. Why I need to pack two Glocks with a temper like mine? Bein’ robbed at gunpoint with a shotgun pointed at yo head makes you really serious about yo right to bare arms. My antennae is always up. Somebody always plottin’. On the streets you gotta stay ready. The have-nots ain’t havin’ it. Or should I say they tryin’ to have it. They just ain’t havin’ mine.
“Honey, get the baby for me,” came my wife’s voice from the front of the apartment. “While I make this bottle for her”
“Yeah baby, I’ll get her,” I said, waking up but still groggy from the night before. “She probably need a diaper change too. Did you put two diapers on her last night? ‘Cause she gone soak right through one if you don’t double up on the diapers. One ain’t enough.”
You see, I was also a full-time father. Not just one of those stand-ins. I made the baby-bottles, changed the diapers, took the kids to the park. Life was bigger than just me. Life was bigger than just my music.
“Honey, Jo Jo called you when you was asleep too.” My wife said. “But I didn’t wanna wake you up”
“Did he say what he wanted?” I asked.
“Something about your beat making equipment that you left over there last night. Something that you shouldn’t be leaving over there in the first place.” My wife said with a hint of attitude. “what if it come’s up broken? Ain’t none of them sorry ass niggas over there is gone pay for shit!”
And that’s what was so really ironic about that day because I never ever leave my music making equipment overnight anywhere without me being there! Especially not at Jo Jo’s grandma house on Congress Avenue! Jo Jo whose real name is Joseph Flowers, went by the nick name “The Gov”. And the Gov is brother to drug kingpen Ant Flowers. They had a crew that pushed like about 100 pounds of cocaine a month. And when you making cash like that, everybody eating good. Even the runners is touchin’ money. And Jo Jo’s headquarters was at grandma Winston’s house on Congress Avenue.
It wasn’t no big drug deals goin’ on over there or nothin’ like that. Mainly it was just the music studio in the basement. But it was always some shit goin’ on like dice games and shit. And high stakes dice games in the hood can get pretty deadly. Because usually everybody packin’ pistols!
I once watched The Gov get hit for like $1500 dollars in a dice game and then pull out a big ass .45 pistol, point it at the dude who won all his money, took the money back from dude, then turn around the very next minute and apologize and try to give the money back to him. And the funny thing was, dude didn’t even want his money back! That was Jo Jo, head of the record label Double Barrel Records. The Suge Knight of East Oakland. The dope game was damn near synonymous with the music game back in the 1990’s in East Oakland. And I hooked up with ‘Pac through the big homie Gov.