Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Grain

The Grain

4.8 12
by Shawn Berry With Michael Salazar
When you think of the "hood," you think of drug dealers, murderers and violence, but do you ever consider the children who have to grow up there? What are their lives like? What do they learn? How do they feel? Where do they end up? All of those drug dealers and criminals that you think of start out as children, just like your children. They are not placed on the


When you think of the "hood," you think of drug dealers, murderers and violence, but do you ever consider the children who have to grow up there? What are their lives like? What do they learn? How do they feel? Where do they end up? All of those drug dealers and criminals that you think of start out as children, just like your children. They are not placed on the streets as adults. They have parents and families and they live their lives based on what they see. Some of those children end up as career criminals, some don't make it out alive, and some grow up to be authors.

When you think of Wu Tang, you think of the rappers. That's not the real Wu Tang. The story of the real Wu Tang and those kids who started it all is finally here. The Grain will teach you where the real Wu Tang came from and what happened to the members.

Every decision we make in life dictates our destiny, and as the author puts it, you have to understand history to not repeat it and to create a better outcome. Know your history; know your Wu Tang history.

Product Details

iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.33(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Grain

An Autobiography
By Shawn Berry Michael Salazar

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2009 Shawn Berry with Michael Salazar
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4401-9891-5

Chapter One

My street name is Bebo and I'm Grain. The Jamaican drug dealers, who we call, "Dreads," gave me that name. They used the word "bebo" almost like a whistle to shout each other out, like "What's up?" Somehow the name got stuck to me.

I come from the Stapleton Projects in Staten Island, New York.

Locals here call our projects "The Town." It is a place you don't go if you don't live there, unless you're related to someone, or welcomed in. Anyone who does get lost here gets scared and acts as if they were in a war zone, and it is, sometimes.

I'm the middle child in a three sibling family. My mother, who everybody calls Ms. Karen, has been a teacher in the hood since I can remember. My father, Roland, is the funniest dude I know. My older sister, Sherri Berry, cooks the best food in the world, and my little bro Rahsaan, we all call Mouse, because he hasn't spoken louder than that in years. These are the people who nurtured my morals and values and taught me about family love and loyalty, and I took that out into the world with me.

The Town's not a pretty place for a young nigga growing up there. But the Town was all I had, and I loved it. I grew up playing in the streets way after the children's games turned serious and deadly. This town was mine, and The Town taught this nigga about life and how to grind.

The Town taught some other dudes that came from here about love and hate, and they used that shit to take over the world.

I lived there when The Wu Tang Clan was conceived. I was there when crack cocaine took over. And I know and saw what went down with all of that shit.

Back in 1989 I stopped hustling with the Up the Block Crew. Not because I had any feelings of guilt, but because Macky, the dude who ran the crew, shit on his niggas; he never paid us right for the rock cocaine that we moved.

So, at 16 years old, I put together what cash I could get, headed Uptown to Harlem, bought my crack, which we call 'work,' and went into business for myself.

I started hustling back at my building 218, with some of the dudes from my building who I knew since we were kids.

We had had an ongoing "up the block, down the block" war the summer that had just passed. It was our own civil war. And just like a civil war nobody outside the Town could get involved, or we would deal with them first, together, and then go back to mad feuding.

The shit originally started over some bullshit that the older, OG (Original God/Gangster) niggas amped up, but later the war continued when it all turned into greedy money issues.

The Up the Block (UB) team decided to get all the crews in the whole hood down with moving the work together, and those that didn't get down with the UB got robbed for their work. I was on the front lines of those assaults on nigga's pockets, and I even went against my own 218 niggas during that time. But only because I believed that together we were untouchable.

We bought guns for our own protection and to fight against all the other Hoods that were arming up, but not to use against our own niggas from the Town. It went from fist fighting, what we called "shooting the fair ones," to settle a beef, to hella gunfights.

It got so bad that a nigga had to be strapped 24/7. Shit started getting too out of hand as far as Grain-on-Grain beefs went. So, in my eyes, the war amongst us just had to stop. So I went to holla at my niggas.

Basically, I told them, "Yo. I believed in Macky. And I trusted his word. But he fucked me like he fucked y'all. So I apologize, and if it means anything to you, I know where he lives. And where the good 'work' is at, and can be got."

Then my homeboy Doug, whose real name was Dennis, but we called him Doug because he was nice with the beat box like Dougie Fresh, who would eventually be known as Wu Tang's Ghostface Killa, said, "A'ight. We can make that move."

That was our way of saying the beef was dead.

Besides, selling crack was so lucrative that everyone else was on the hustle tip.

For months everyone clocked, and we held down the building so that nobody from other buildings could come and hustle at the 218.

During that time vibes were all good with the crack that we moved. We did so well that eventually Ghost, and my man Tek, put our money together, and we started grinding hard together.

At that time we were fucking grinding hard under the GP (Gladiator Posse) flag.

We were still in high school and rolled large. I could turn fifty dollars into a thousand by the end of the day. We had the best of the best clothes, bling, and ladies.

It might be hard to believe, but back then the Stapleton Projects were just like one big family. If someone had a problem with somebody from the "Town," or didn't live there, then the outsider had a beef with the whole fucking neighborhood.

People respected other's property, helped each other out, and stuck together, no-matter-what. But crack changed all that. It totally fucked everything up! There wasn't a family I knew who wasn't affected, including my own.

But that didn't stop me from moving that rock. Like I said, there was just too much money to be made. Why should I opt out, and lose my chance at making my own cash, right?

And above it all, real Hip Hop was rocking 24/7. You could hear it everywhere. It brought niggas together. It was our own groove that we could grind to. It was our language, our beats, completely our own shit; this was our generation and no one else's. Erik B, Rakim, KRS1, BDK, and others just like them, spit the words that we lived.

So there we were on the block, Tek, Ghost, me, and the rest of the 218 squad doing our thing, working the work, poppin' and having fun. Hell, my dudes had some live lyrics too!

I lived just to rep my niggas and our GP team!

And here was the original Grain lineup, Doug, who you know as Ghost, my boy Pop, also known as the Brown Hornet, TT aka RNS, Donell also known as DownLowReka, Andre aka Juice, June aka June Luva, and Dez, known as Strictly.

They were all M.C.'s except for RNS because he was the producer of the team.

I played my part behind the scenes, doing my thing, helping where I could, and holding down drama in the hood the best that I could.

I didn't want to be an mc or a producer, I was always interested more in the "business side" of things. I would rob niggas and pass the money off to fund the movement. My ideas, energy, and leadership were respected amongst my niggas; we always moved as a democracy.

Now where I lived in the "Town" we always seemed to have a constant rivalry with the Park Hill Projects, which we called the "Hill," and was within easy walking distance from our projects, just over the hill where the Bertha Dreyfus Intermediate School (I.S. 49) is located.

The cliques and crews all went to the same schools, shopped at the same stores, and even went to the same parties.

Just like sports teams, or social clubs, we always had to see which crew could make more noise or wild out heavier. And this always led to a beef of some sort that just kept escalating.

It was crazy! We fought hard, but we knew each other's families, and more. But it was what it was.

The drama rose to the point where the Town and the Hill geared up for a fully armed, all-out war. And it was all over shit that nobody could even figure out, but we didn't care because the drama and shit became just too much fun for us.

And things didn't look great for GP and the Town, because a few of our side got knocked by the cops. Then Pop went to college to play football. And another of our crew with a lot of guns went into the Marines.

So the Town was kind of empty of soldiers except for me, Ghost, Tek, and the rest of the 218 squad.

Throughout this time, wutang, the vibe, was slowly evolving into a lifestyle. If you don't know anything about Wu Tang, or even if you do, or think that you do, here's how wutang really evolved.

The DBC started doing mad shit together. We hustled crack like pros. We smoked dust and would wild out. We all fucked chicks together, bust guns, and sold hella drugs together. And when we got bored, we read banana books written by people like Dr. Malachi York, and watched mad movies, and we would build with the Older Gods in the neighborhood on various subjects, like religion, politics, life, reality, and of course, loyalty.

We made our own discoveries, like the five percent mathematical principals, originated by Clarence 13X. Then dudes would incorporate some of those lessons into their lyrics just like Rakim did.

Then we'd talk about what we knew in our own, new language.

We might've not known shit about the outside world, just our world that we rolled in. With the bank flowing in, our world was all we cared about. And that left us with our own style, and ideas of the world. We lived in our own zone with our own rules and ways to live. The outside world couldn't give two-fucks about us, so it was two-guns up to the outside world!

Eventually we got rid of what we didn't like, and that left us with what we did like, weed, pussy, books, and movies.

Of the countless kung fu flicks we watched, the one movie that left a lasting impression on the GP was "Shaolin vs. Wu Tang." If you see it then you'll cop a deeper understanding to this entire story.

It wasn't just about fighting. It was a heavy kung fu flick with a message. It hit me harder than learning the five percent principals; it was all right there. It paralleled how the GP lived. It was the same Town and Hill beef, with their own Chinese generals running the show. But this movie had some answers for us.

The story was about two fighting schools, Shaolin and Wu Tang, who the emperor was trying to keep from combining because they might overthrow him. So the emperor devised a plan to make them go to war and destroy each other. It was some ill shit to see how it played out.

So then the GP, being down with the Wu Tang style of work, started calling the minor things we had "wutang," and then we added "Wu Tang" to our GP name. We were now the Gladiator Posse/ Wu Tang from Stapleton. We liked the way it sounded. It had a natural beat that we could use; Wuuu Tang, Wuuuuu TANG! See?

We called the 40's Old English Malt liquor "wutang juice." Then we started adding "wutang" words in our rap lyrics, such as "may Buddha's name be praised," to our shit.

We started to vibe heavy on wutang. It really meant something to us; and it was ours. It was a Stapleton original, and can't a nigga walking or layin' say any different.

I didn't know what philosophy was back then, but that's exactly what we were working on.

Dupree, Ghost's cousin, and Hez, two of the dancingest niggas on the planet, even came up with a wutang dance. But that shit was ill, because they used to smoke a ton of angel dust. They had to be high to come up with some of the crazy ass moves that they did!

Through our wutang vibe, we still warred with the Hill.

If we caught any of them Hill niggas slippin,' we were on them. Sometimes we searched them out just to start the drama because we were bored. The Hill niggas thought that we were all crazy because when we got wetted, we'd wild the fuck out! Usually with this nigga out in front.

But individually, there were personal relationships between the Stapleton and the Hill niggas that went too far back to get on some bullshit with them, even with a war going on.

Nothing can last forever.

I got knocked on a weapons possession charge in 1989 and sent to Riker's Island.

That jail is shit, and it always will be. Thousands of people are incarcerated there. It has a mean-assed reputation.

It was my second trip in that direction. The first time I was bailed out before I had even reached it. This time I wasn't so lucky.

The in-process was dehumanizing. It's one thing to hear about it, another to see it happen on television, and entirely another to be there, live, and in person.

I finally got a bed at three in the morning. I was nervous. I couldn't see shit. Who the fuck was in that cell? Thugs and killers thrived in this place.

I found an empty rack. I lay out, but couldn't sleep. I had been down with a lot of bullshit back in the streets. Now I was here and not down with shit. It was the price I paid for wilding out.

I stared at the ceiling until the sun came up.

At about four in the morning the place went crazy when someone yelled out for chow.

Motha fuckas everywhere jumped up and raced for the cell door as if their lives depended on it. It looked like a fire was happening. I was stunned. Their noise and panic took me by surprise.

I learned real quick what had happened.

There was a one minute warning for chow and if you weren't in line for breakfast by then, then the dorm doors slammed shut. Anyone left inside that wanted to eat, got no food.

They do that because there aren't that many guards up at that time. The less inmates eating, the less they had to watch. I missed a lot of breakfasts in the time that I was there.

Things smoothed out quick when I hooked up with my cousin Poopy, who was in for gun possession too, and drug distribution. With someone watching my back, things got better.

Things got even better when I went to court and the weapons charge got tossed out. I then was able to get Released on Own Recognizance (ROR'd) on the drug charge that I had already made bail on before. I was about to taste freedom.

But then something happened that forever changed my life, and those around me.

While I was held on Riker's Island, a nigga I was cool with, named Each, went to my sister and gave her enough money to bail me out. But I came home first before she could use it. Now here's the twist; Each was from our rivals, the Park Hill Crew. She told me what had happened. I took Each's bail money from her, and then considered what might have happened, and some of the possibilities as to why it happened.

Each and me had always been cool. He was a little older, and as far as I knew, he was the only American dude, who had any status with the Dreads, who'd taken over the Hill narcotics supply.

Each used to let me into all his parties for free. That's why I figured we were cool, regardless of the ongoing war with his hood. But it threw me for a hard loop that he would actually put up bail money for a "supposed" enemy from a rival hood. Usually anybody who had nothing to do with the war minded their own business but this move Each made put him smack in the middle of the shit.

How's a nigga to play it?

I could just keep the money, and let him think that he bailed me out. Or I could test the waters and see if he was really just setting me up for the niggas in his hood.

Rather than play games and out strategize myself, I grabbed my gun, and then went to the Hill looking for Each.

I was going to hit the fucking issue head on and resolve the drama right there and then. But I did have a plan.

I saw Each on Targee Street. He stood in front of the barber shop that the Dreads owned. He didn't see me because he was putting the moves on some fine assed chick.

I played it cool, but tight. I approached him from his blind side.

"Yo. Each. Can I talk to you?"

He looked really surprised, and quickly turned his attention to me. I could see from the way he acted that he was looking for me to make some kind of move on him, being that I was looking a little stressed. I had the drop on him. He might even be unarmed.

"'sup G?" he asked. He was breathing fast.

I could see that I had caught him off-guard, so I had the advantage. It was my game.

"Yo, Each, man, I hope that you didn't put up that bail money just to line me up for your people to make a move on me. 'Cuz if you did we can get busy right now." I flashed my heater to let him know I was holding.

But my act didn't work.

Each looked, and then he laughed.

He cooled out and said. "Yo, fool. How long have I looked out for your ass? And in how many places? In school, in my hood, on the court, name it. And I always let you into my parties for fuckin' free too, nigga!"

Now he started giving me shit. His chin jerked toward my gun. "So, how you comin' at me like that?"

I had him. It was time to play my hand. "Yo. I got out on ROR. So, if you were sincere about bailing me out, then here's your money back." I dug into my coat, pulled out his wad, and handed it back to him.

He looked stunned. I scored my point. It was time to close the deal.

"Now, can you go back and get more of that 'work' you was getting when you rolled with the Dreads?"


Excerpted from The Grain by Shawn Berry Michael Salazar Copyright © 2009 by Shawn Berry with Michael Salazar. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Shawn Berry hails from the Stapleton Projects on Staten Island in New York. Before his twentieth birthday, he had already lived through more than most people could ever imagine. He has moved on from Stapleton, but he will never forget the events that brought him this far in his life.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Grain 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
EmpressTP More than 1 year ago
This is the type of storyline/autobiography that had my adrenanline pumping each time I turned the page! The first word that comes to my mind as I read The Grain: Captivating! I felt as though I was watching an action packed film that kept me at the edge of my seat. The writer is detailed and extremely graphic when it came to telling his story! Excellent, excellent read!!
MsButtafly More than 1 year ago
Shawn Berry gives it to you raw and straight out the hood of Stapleton projects. This book helps you to see friendships and alliances for what they are. Sometimes you need to sit back and review your life and surroundings in order to know who you are and where you want to be. Good job Shawn for capturing the essence of our hood and our time of the beginning of the Wu Tang and how we got put on the map. I couldn't put it down until I was finished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the grain was enjoyable & alluring with so many books out there this book in a shortcutted manner for a new author i believe served its purpose because once a person reads it the hunger for more continues. i appreciated that the author said at the end he wanted to see if he could do it, well sir i believe he's off to a great start good luck on your endeavors sir and keep it coming i hope the next one you really bring a bigger dose for the hungry readers such as myself. blessings!
Orionpax More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book and I have to say it blew me away, I would reccomend this book to anyone who likes to read about truth. A real life story that happends almost everyday in the world, I would hope that the author be given the respect by all the insiders/outsiders for laying the ground work for an empire that fed so many people and I for one didn't like where hip hop was going until I heard 36 chambers, The buzz of Wu Tang was everywhere and I remember in 1992 Staten Island was reeling in all sorts of respect , It took an entire borough to an all new level of consciousness. I feel the author is a sort of a modern day Jesus....He should be honored for his part in it...This story made me smile to see that one man can go through what was an absolute hell,and came out of hell with his full integrity. The underdog is always my favorite to win at the game of life. I agree with others this book should made into movie. Quote: Jesus of Nazareth Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? You see it all the time people always destroy their integrity by the temptation of Greed, Greed is always the killer of all good things.
Hanniballecktah More than 1 year ago
Wow!! I didn't realize how deep the things are in the world of the Wu Tang...I always wondered how a group of very talented artists went from being globally recognized to falling off the face of the earth (atleast musically) To see how some of it's members truly remained the same and how some other members let the ego get in the way of it's mass potential...I always wanted to know how it all turned out, how it could of been....I truly felt the author in his plights to succeed.I feel this book is the only real form of justice in this world we live today. I also relized that things in the hip hop community aren't always what they seem... This book should be made into a movie, I would choose Jim Jarmusch to be the director. Praise due to the author !!!
Debbie_Miceli More than 1 year ago
"The Grain" takes you down a road that will hopefully help you see people for who they are. "They start out as children, just like your children . . . . " So true, and as adults, I believe we are so scarred and jaded that we sometimes forget that. I read the "The Grain" in one afternoon and it has left me needing to know what happened next. I feel as though I have been on an unforgettable, emotional journey with the author, who wasn't afraid to tell the truth about his past. A journey that taught me the truth about Wu Tang and life. A life that before this, I had only seen on the news, but never really witnessed or understood. I rate this alongside one of my very favorite books, "The Outsiders," which I read so many years ago, but will never forget. Thank you Mr. Berry for sharing your story. I look forward to seeing a lot more from you in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would like to tip my hat to Shawn Berry. This book did exactly what a story is suppose to do, and thats capture your undivided attention and make you feel as though you were there from beginning to end. I enjoyed reading "The Grain", and the way Shawn expressed his words whereas you felt what he was saying. This book is a book that I would and have recommended many to read. Congratulations & much success, looking forward to reading your next book.
Princess_1 More than 1 year ago
When I picked up this book, I only had the knowledge of whom I thought the author was, what I did not know was who the author was or where he had been and wanted to go. What Shawn put on the pages of this book is answers to some of Staten Island's many questions. The book takes you on a journey through a time when so much was going on in NYC and yes on Staten Island too. Shawn does not just tell a story he is the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Major Props to Shawn Berry and Michael Salazar. What a book! It has WOW! on every page. It's a fast, fast read. So that's wutang? "The Grain" is about the rap world but it's a look past the drugs, guns, bling and glitz. It's an expose into the real lifestyle that we never see. Berry has something to say for countless thousands of other men like him we discard or warehouse in cages. The Grain is a modern work in the vein of "The Autobiography of Malcom X," and Eldridge Cleaver's "Soul on Ice." My only question is, "when's the movie comming out?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NAM2010 More than 1 year ago
BKLYNFNST More than 1 year ago
When most people think of Staten Island you automatically think "Wu-tang" which was a group who basically put Staten Island on the map little did we know the real story to the start of this influential group in Hip Hop, Shawn Berry vividly captured the essence of the beginning of this Wu-tang saga and in turn gives an account of all that he endured in his life. Mr. Berry created an idea to be shared with his friends which he considers family someone in the "family" takes this idea shares it with other outsiders who are not "family" who in turn makes a profit off of the ideas and the name and shuns the creator? As a man how can you not be broken to see your creation loved by millions and not be in on it or acknowledged? Very good book, Shawn Berry is an extremely strong guy.