Read an Excerpt
Money, Lust, Fame
It was a little after one on a Friday night and mics were on fire at the House of Homicide. Junius “Hurricane” Jackson was Homicide’s CEO, producer, and all-around king niggah in charge. Hurricane commanded mad respect on the streets of New York City, and even the most thugged-out criminals feared him like the badass hustler that he was.
The House of Homicide was located smack in the middle of Harlem, on a block that stayed live twenty-four hours a day. It was originally built as a neighborhood movie theater, but when Hurricane started running things, he converted it into a hot nightclub/recording studio that attracted hundreds of ballers, rappers, and hopeful wannabe artists looking to get on a stage and get paid.
Every superhead in Harlem wanted to be down on Homicide’s tip. The crack fiends, the teenage baby mamas. The video hoes who were lost and turned out.
“That Cane niggah is hard!” they’d laugh as they lined up half-naked outside the studio, posing and shivering in the cold, just dying to get a spot on his latest video shoot. “Let that rich motherfucka put the camera on me. I’ll rock my ass so hard he’ll forget his mama’s name!”
Yeah, Hurricane was a living legend in Harlem, and he had his House on lock and under total control. He was a genius when it came to recognizing raw street talent, and he dominated the music industry so viciously it made those cats over at Crunk Cuts and Ruthless Rap look weak and broke-down.
Hurricane was in deep with the Mafia too, and they gave him a lot of rope. He strong-armed a bunch of small businesses and laundered Mob money through almost all of them, especially the corner liquor store he owned and his rib joint that was right next door. He played the role of a community leader and all that too. You know, giving out free turkeys during the holidays and sponsoring bookmobiles and things like that for the kids in the hood. He had fat knots in his pockets and was even known to organize street cleanups and pay people’s bills when they got too far behind. But nothing went down in Harlem that Hurricane wasn’t involved in. No deals got made, no pussy got sold, no dice got tossed. Nobody so much as rolled a blunt unless Hurricane got his cut.
Hurricane had mad pull from coast to coast. In the time that I’d known him he’d signed some of the hottest singers and rap artists from L.A. to Miami and snatched them into his camp. A few artists he straight stole from other labels, and some he actually got honest. But no matter how they got here, the minute they put their name on the dotted line their asses belonged to the House of Homicide, and Hurricane Jackson became their don, their daddy, and their dictator.
This Friday night was starting out just like any other. I was chilling downstairs in one of the recording rooms with two hopeful artists, Jazzy and Danita. Friday nights were fresh-talent night at the House of Homicide. The House was packed, and rappers and video hoes were lined up out the door and around the corner waiting for their chance to jump in the pit and impress Hurricane.
Jazzy had been here once before, but it was Danita’s first night in the House. Since we were sitting around waiting for the pit to go live, we decided to kill some time listening to some bootleg mix tapes somebody had brought in off the streets. I’d watched both of these chicks rehearse the tracks they were gonna perform in the pit tonight, and they didn’t sound half bad. The problem was they were regular. Didn’t nothing stand out about them except they asses. I knew exactly which rooms they would end up in, and it damn sure wasn’t gonna be no mic room like they were hoping.
Jazzy was the cutest of the two and she was rocking a pair of Donna Karan shorts that were so tight the V between her legs looked like a camel toe. Danita was just as hot. She sported a fly little Rocawear miniskirt that clung to her thighs and rode up her hips every time she moved. Upstairs, the music was banging and the party was in full charge. The way Danita and Jazzy were flossing I could tell they were ready to rush up the steps, grab a baller, and get crunk in the middle of the mix.
“Damn, Candy,” Danita said, winding her hips and slurping from a cold bottle of beer. “I ain’t into no bitches, but you one lucky heffah! Booming body, pretty red hair, blue eyes, light chocolate skin . . . I see why that niggah Hurricane got you laced up so lovely. Do you, boo! If I was laying up with Hurricane I’d be iced out and cutting hits left and right too. But just wait till your niggah hears some of my rhymes. I’ma press his ass out!”
I just nodded and thought about Dominica and Vonzelle, my girls from Scandalous! We was fresh and hot like Jazzy and Danita at one time too, so I understood what kinda cloud their heads were stuck in. Born singing, I’d had visions of being a superstar for as long as I could remember. But hard knocks and cold men had taught me a little somethin’ about the music business that Jazzy and Danita must didn’t know. These chicks couldn’t see past the obvious. The bright lights, iced-out jewels, expensive cars . . . all this shit came with a price on it, a price that sexing Hurricane had taught me I couldn’t afford to pay.
I’d met some pretty mean niggahs during my travels, but Hurricane Jackson was the first one to show me what real pain was all about. Hurricane held a lease on my life. He’d paid the Mob cash money for my ass, and his word and his protection were the only things keeping me alive.
I got my first taste of Hurricane’s cruelty while I was laid up naked in his bed, and the minute I saw what he was working with I knew my shit was fried. The niggah was a bonecrusher. He had a body like Mr. Universe. Mike Tyson didn’t have shit on him. Swole chest, twelve-pack stomach. Muscles everywhere. But it was mainly for show. Sex with Hurricane was all about Hurricane, and he got his pleasure by seeing other people in pain. No tonguing me down or licking my neck. That was the last thing on his mind. He didn’t even stroke the poon-poon or worry whether or not it was wet. Nope, fucking Hurricane was unlike anything I’d ever known, and I would find out the hard way that his foreplay was even more destructive than his name.
Don’t get me wrong. Ain’t nobody out here perfect, but there are some brothers who been blessed with gifts that can make a sistah climb the walls. Hurricane, too, had been blessed in a lot of ways. He was powerful, he was rich, he was fine, and everybody knew he had crazy musical talent. But none of that shit made up for what Hurricane was lacking, and a deficiency like the one he had, especially in a such a big, strong, buff-ass man, was enough to turn even the most mellow niggah into a raging maniac. Yeah, Hurricane Jackson had a whole lot of things the average brothah could only dream of, but what he was missing was the one thing all his money and his power couldn’t buy him.
The first time Hurricane took me home to the banging mansion he kept on Long Island, nothing in my life had ever impressed me more. About a thousand niggahs lived up in there with him, but I didn’t care.
He was rich.
His place was a palace compared to the holes I’d lived in. The windows were paneless and made of flat dark glass, the ceilings were twenty feet high, and the floors were smoked Italian marble bordered with gold trim. Everything about his crib screamed quality and cash, and as much grief and drama as I had just been through, I figured I was due to lay back and enjoy a few luxuries in my life.
Hurricane took me inside and made sure I met the other wifeys who stayed there, and then later on that night he let me bathe in his $30,000 onyx tub. I damn near melted when I saw his huge custom-built, oversize Hypnos bed. It was sitting up on a raised platform that was down in a sunken area in the middle of the room. The top of the bed had a canopy of black and white silk curtains that were tied back with tiny silver chains. Six carpeted steps led down into the sleeping area, and six more made of smoked black glass led back up to the bed on all four sides. I felt like a queen as he kissed my neck, then held my hand and escorted me all the way up to the top.
“Sweet Candy,” Hurricane whispered as he pulled back the thick towel and stared at my naked body. “Soft brown skin and”—he tangled his fingers in my hair—“sexy blue eyes. I’ve run through some jawns up in here, but you’s a keeper.”
My nature was always running hot and I couldn’t wait to feel him inside of me. My nipples were aching to be kissed, and thick juices were percolating between my legs. I laid there like a fool, grinning and posing all up in those sheets, ready to go all out for the man who was gonna make me a big star.
But I figured out what kind of party it was the minute he pulled down his pants and started grinding me so hard I swore the bed would break down. You ever heard of beating a pussy until you knocked it out? Well that’s what Hurricane did to mine. He raised himself up on his hands and knees, slammed his hips down hard enough to crack my pubic bone, then grinded like he was on a mission to kill somebody.
“Slow down, baby,” I begged, trying to catch up with his warp-speed rhythm. I wasn’t a virgin, but my young ass didn’t know shit about shit neither. Yeah, I’d played a little touchy-feely a couple of times, and true, I was a professional masturbator, but nothing I’d experienced had been anything like the express train that was roaring on top of me right now. I wanted to get with him, but all that pounding was drying up my juices, so I grabbed his thick arms, squeezing his muscles, then slid my hands down his back and held tight to his trim waist.
“Wait,” I whispered, spreading my legs wider as I tried my best to feel him. “Is it in yet, baby? Is it in?”
“What you say?”
Working my hips to get in his groove, I rounded under him and rubbed his ass, letting my hands work the thick muscles of his back. “Put it in now,” I demanded, arching my back and brushing my nipples against his hard chest, eager to get my pussy stretched out and filled up until it burst. “Go ’head and slide all a’ that good dick up inside me baby!”
Hurricane moved fast. He slid his palms under my hips and grabbed one ass cheek in each hand. Then he squeezed my mounds like they were two lemons, balling his hands into tight fists and digging his fingers so deep into my booty muscles he almost paralyzed me.
“I said, what the fuck did you say?”
Sweat broke out all over me and I arched my back and clenched my ass tight, panting against the pain.
“Candy!” he growled in my ear. “What the fuck did you just say?”
I honest-to-God didn’t know what the hell I’d said. Whatever it was, I damn sure wasn’t about to say it again. He rolled off of me and reached across the huge bed, searching for something under his pillow.
“I’ma put something in your ass,” he said in a low voice. “Put something in there that’ll shut you right the fuck up.”
I almost screamed again when I saw what he had in his hand.
That crazy motherfucker was holding a gun.
And not one of those regular old Saturday night specials either. I’d seen this kind of gun before, it was Seagram’s favorite piece. A .44 caliber Magnum with a hair trigger. The kind of shit you roll with when you wanna blow a niggah’s brains out through the back of his head.
Hurricane cursed and slapped the barrel across my mouth, busting open my bottom lip. I swallowed blood and panicked when I saw the crazy look in his eyes. My teeth were clenched but he forced me to open them shits, shoving that barrel halfway down my throat, then taking it out and cracking it first against my collarbone and then dead on the tip of my elbow. I yelped and rolled over, balling up in a knot and cradling the black pain that ran from my shoulder all the way down to my fingertips. Suddenly he was on top of me again, and the cold metal was being pushed between my legs. All I could think was that the gun had a hair trigger and was gonna go off and blow me up from the inside out. I screamed and fought, but come on people. You know who had the wins. And then my pussy was being filled up for real. With something so hard and icy it got my whole body to shivering with pain. But as chilly and cold as that revolver was, just take my word for it and believe me when I tell you. It wasn’t half as cold as Hurricane’s heart.
Jazzy and Danita both did the damn thang in the pit and came out sweating me with a thousand questions, screaming, ’cause Jay-Z and Kanye were both in the house, and feenin’ like industry freaks to find out what Hurricane thought about their performance. I tried to tell them to play it chill, that Hurricane knew hot talent when he saw it, and if he thought the opportunity to turn a dime was right there under his roof wasn’t no way in hell he was gonna let it slide.
I know I made Hurricane sound like a nine-headed monster, but actually, he wasn’t much different than a lot of other entertainment hustlers out there like Suge Knight, Irv Gotti, and even P.Diddy with his crazy self. Cane kept a posse of street-hard soldiers around him ten to twenty deep, and most of them were either bangers or stone criminals who didn’t have no artistic talent but were down for whatever. They would take a niggah out real quick and then show you where the bodies were buried.
From what I’d heard, Hurricane had pulled a little bid upstate for killing a drug dealer. It was up there that he made all the connections that helped him launch his record label and finance the hooked-up studio that we were chilling in right now. The real deal was that Hurricane had done something a whole lot of other hustlers wished they could do. He’d gotten in good with the right people and started sticking his fingers in all kinds of pies. Them Italians was the ones who had fronted him the seed money to build his empire, and in return he set his boy Tonk up as Harlem’s number one drug distributor and used his Mob connections to make all his buys. Hurricane kept the Mob money fresh and clean by washing it through his label, cook- ing the books on his artists, and producing underground porno videos and selling them by the thousands as adult entertainment.
Of course I didn’t hip Jazzy or Danita to none of this. The fact that I knew about it myself was bad enough, and if Knowledge hadn’t been Hurricane’s right-hand man and the genius behind his financial empire, a whole lot of things would have caught me blind.
“Do you work anywhere?” I asked Danita as she finger-combed the weave that was hanging down to her ass and long enough for her to sit on. “I mean, you got a job to fall back on if this don’t come through, right?”
“Nah.” She shook her head. “All I’m working on is my singing career. I got a baby girl and my mama works. I can’t find no job that’ll pay for day care, so I stay with my daughter during the day and my mama keeps her at night.”
I didn’t have no babies, but I knew all about working on a career because I’d worked a man’s job just so I’d have enough ends to chase one.
I’d signed on as a money mule for the Gabriano family when I was just seventeen, and while the stakes were high, the payoff was lovely. Just like the two girls standing in front of me, I’d been as dumb as they come. Fresh off the corner, I didn’t know a damn thing about interstate trafficking. But I was tired of fighting off horny foster fathers and getting my ass felt by a bunch of play-play brothers. Daddy had been dead for years, and Mama was living in a homeless shelter at the time so she wasn’t no help. The only other family I had was my baby sister, Caramel, and she was in foster care too, somewhere out in Queens. I was at one of those frustrated points in my life where anything could have happened. I could have swung to the left or jetted straight to the right. Nicky Gabriano had come along like a life preserver, and getting in with his crew was a stroke of pure luck. The good thing was, I had enough smarts to know it.
The first time I heard the name Homicide Hitz, my girl Dominica Santiaga was screaming it in my ear.
“Did you hear what the fuck I just said, Candy?” she shrieked through the telephone, calling me at my crib in L.A. “I got a call from some chick who works at Homicide Hitz! She said they checked out our demo, and they wanna see what else we got! Girl we about to get a contract and make Destiny’s Child sit their skinny asses down!”
Dominica was a fast-talking Hispanic girl I’d met in foster care. She’d ended up in the system ’cause she snuck out her window one night to go sing in a talent show and got back just in time to catch her house burning down and her whole family going up in the flames.
“Calm down, Dominica!” I said. “And stop talking so damn fast. Who checked out our demo, and how the hell did they get it?”
She sucked her teeth and I could tell she had her hand on her hip. “Hurricane Jackson, stupid. I ran into one of his boys at a show and slipped it to him.”
“Yeah, Hurricane. You know the fine-ass Hurricane who owns the House of Homicide in Harlem? The baddest record label in the nation? You ever heard of Big Joe or that new kid Dolla Bill? Hennessy? Too Tall? What about Dead Moon, that hot group from Brooklyn that came out this year on his new Homicide Hitz label?”
Dominica was steady talking, but I was so shocked I couldn’t answer her. Hell yeah I knew who Hurricane Jackson was. Didn’t everybody? He had shit on lock all over New York and way out here in L.A. too. I just never thought we’d get close enough to make a bleep on his radar screen, let alone get him to check out our demo.
We had started singing together in foster care—me, Dominica, and our girl Vonzelle. Dominica was real pretty with big titties and a high ass, and she was also loud and ghetto. Vonzelle was just as bad, but she was sneaky and ten times prettier. She was originally from the Bronx but ended up in foster care after her mother OD’d and her and her baby brother sat locked in a room with the dead body for two days watching it rot and swell. All of us had been through some shit and none of us had had it easy, but Vonnie was the worst in our bunch. She was slick and conniving, and I swear sometimes I’d look in her eyes and see some wild shit lurking there that scared me ’bout to death.
We’d hooked up together and formed a group we called Scandalous! and when I left New York and moved out to L.A. my girls thought I was gonna flake out and leave them hanging, but I didn’t. I made sure that every trip I took to the East Coast we got in some studio time, and we’d just finished recording our demo a couple of weeks earlier.
“So what now?” I cut in as Dominica flapped her tongue in about three different languages. “What does he want us to do now?”
She laughed. “He wants us to get our asses down to the House of Homicide for an audition, Candy! Next Friday at ten. The chick on the phone said he was thinking about offering us a little something in writing.” Excited, Dominica screeched loud enough to bust my damn eardrum. I wanted to curse her out, but instead I laughed right along with her ’cause I was just as happy as she was. “I gotta call Vonzelle and tell her this shit,” she said. “In the meantime get your chocolaty-red ass back to New York real quick so we can get in there and tear Hurricane’s muthafuckin’ House of Homicide down!”
When I look back on how things went down tears come to my eyes just from thinking about my girl Dominica. She didn’t deserve the terrible shit she ended up getting, and my heart twisted up when I remembered our last ride.
I followed Jazzy and Danita upstairs shaking my head. For a hot second I started to sit those two young chicks down and put them up on what was real. Hell, there wasn’t no damn recording contract in their future. The most either one of them could hope for was a photo shoot for the porn calendar Hurricane put out every year or maybe a spot in one of them triple-X videos he shot and circulated underground. At best one of them might get picked as an extra ho when Hurricane produced his next video for a hot artist, but a recording contract? They had a better chance of being hit by a speeding train or getting dicked down by a vicious dog.
Something in me really wanted to tell Jazzy and Danita to jet. To warn them that the House of Homicide was really a house of horrors, with young girls like them being nothing but expendable victims. I wanted to tell both of them to head straight toward the door and put as much ground between them and Hurricane Jackson as they could. But? And? Then what? Nobody had bothered to school my ass on the way in, and even if they tried, I’d had industry fever. I was hell-bent on becoming a big-time recording star, and all the schooling in the world wouldn’t have mattered.
It had taken me way too long to figure out that it ain’t about how high you climb in the music business. It’s what you give up in the process. It only takes a split second for things to go bad in this industry, and Hurricane played the game so well his empire was stacked strong and tall. A lot of people ask me how I got here, and others wanna know why I stay. So I’ll just give it to you raw and dirty, the same way it was given to me. How ’bout I put you up on square one so you can see for yourself how it all began. Take a look at what went down before Hurricane grabbed hold of my world and spun it around like a tornado, totally out of control. Check out this snapshot of what my life was like before the passion and the pain. Before the money and the madness.
From the Trade Paperback edition.