|Jay-Z & Supreme|
Part III of a 3-Part Series
We take up again with Seth Ferranti, author of The Supreme Team: The Birth of Crack and Hip-hop, Prince's Reign of Terror and the Supreme/50-Cent Beef Exposed.
MS: Do you think Supreme and his gang believed they could outsmart the system or just accepted that death or prison was the price one paid?
|Al Pacino as Scarface|
SF: Preme was in prison, so I am sure he did not play a role in all the senseless murders and free for alls. He would have tried to be more diplomatic and stop a lot of that but with the dawning of the crack era maybe even he would have been unable to stem the tide. Crack is a vicious drug and when you mix crack, money and power it is a volatile brew and then add people’s egos to that mix and you get the picture. Some of the dudes in the streets at that time really thought they were Scarface. They were going out with guns blazing. They did not give a fuck. And a lot of these types of dudes were on the team. So who knows if Supeme would have been able to curb the murderous and destructive behavior that a lot of these dudes engaged in? Crack really changed things. So it was not just Supreme not being out there it was a combination of that, Prince's more ruthless style and the cutthroat world that emerged as crack took hold of Queens and the inner cities across the nation. I would say crack made New York the murder capital of the world and it brought the violence to the degree that it got to.
MS: A Supreme Team member said, “If not for the fed case, we would have retired. We would have flipped that illegal money, opened up stuff that could help our people in the neighborhood.” How likely was that to happen do you think? Can leopards change their spots?
SF: Without all the violence and murders I believe it could have happened. The crack era made a lot of things change. Even the big dealers like Fat Cat, who made millions before crack, would have been ok without the violence. But the power started to go to these dudes’ heads and I think the ego maniac aspect of the Scarface movie did too. They saw Scarface and they wanted to be that. They wanted to have that power and with that ego maniacness a kind of craziness came into it. And then you put crack in that mix it was like pouring napalm on an already raging fire. Things exploded and got real chaotic. So without all that they might have been able to go legit. It’s been done before; the Kennedys are a good example of that. This is America so I am sure things like that have happened all the time in our history and in the black community. Most of the dudes on the team were hustlers first and foremost all the other stuff came into play because dudes got sheisty and they had to show that they weren't going for it. If you are righteous and treating people right, in the drug world that is, and dudes get it twisted and come at you wrong, how are you supposed to act? The streets dictate that you fight fire with fire. So that is how sometimes good people do bad things and make bad decisions.
MS: To continue along the previous line, Supreme did his utmost to go legit with his movie, Crime Partners, whose production and distribution were apparently financed legally. He stated, “I just wanted to be a regular person.” Is that to say he was on the straight and narrow? That once back on the streets he had nothing to do with drug dealing?
SF: I would say that Supreme was on the straight and narrow but it goes back to the hood and in reality, as outsiders, there are a lot of things we don't understand about the hood. Ok, Preme was going legit but he still had this reputation as a big gangster and ghetto star. He still loved his hood and his people. He still represented for them. So the problem exists because you got all these suckers that are hating on Preme because of his success. They are trying him, disrespecting him, trying to get their own reputation at his expense. So what is the man supposed to do? I mean he is Supreme, he is the gangster legend. So does he revert to form or try to ignore it? That is why when a lot of people make it from the hood they move out of the hood because they are not with all the bullshit. But Preme tried to keep it real, in fact he did keep it real. Too real and now he is paying the price for what he did. But he stood on what he did, he didn't involve anyone else. He took it and kept it moving. That is why he is so revered and why his legacy should be honored. Not because he was a big drug lord or had power or this or that but because he stood on his ideals and didn't cave in the face of adversity. That is what makes him special. I can't say if he never sold drugs again. Who knows? But I do know he was making legitimate strides in a legal venture and due to his status and who he was the feds put a spotlight on him because they felt like he was the one that got away.
MS: Can you give us a short version of the beef between rapper 50 Cent and Supreme? How did it affect Supreme in the long run?
SF: 50 Cent was a nobody from the South Jamaica, the hood where Supreme is from. Supreme was riding what at the time was the winning horse, Irv Gotti and Ja Rule's Murder Inc. They were the stars, they were on top of the world. 50 Cent was trying to make a name for himself by disrespecting Irv Gotti and Ja Rule. So Preme stepped in, 50 Cent lied to Preme and kept it going and 50 Cent got blasted because of that. In the streets if a man comes to you and says check it out you need to stop doing this I am with these guys so leave them alone and you agree and then go back to doing the same thing the next eventuality due to you breaking your word is that you get fucked up, plain and simple. So 50 Cent broke his word to Preme and he got handled accordingly. Then after that 50 Cent goes on to become the biggest rapper in the world and he puts a lot of stuff in his songs and tells the feds to read my lyrics and he says a lot of stuff in interviews and then Supreme and Murder Inc. end up getting federally indicted and the indictment reads like everything 50 Cent was talking about in interviews and in his songs. So I would say the beef affected Supreme severely. But at the time he had no idea that this dude would blow up like he did. If he would have known he might have handled things differently but hindsight is 20/20.
MS: You state that “Supreme was targeted from the word go…” by overzealous prosecutors. And one of Supreme’s associates observed, “…with the feds it’s like once a drug dealer always a drug dealer.” The question still remains: Was Supreme innocent of the murders they charged him with?
|Author Seth Ferranti with wife Diane|