T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E.

T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E.

4.6 12
by Sanyika Shakur

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The follow up to his best-selling memoir Monster, Sanyika Shakur’s T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. is a vicious, heart-wrenching and true-to-life novel about an LA gang member that masterfully captures the violence and depravity of gang life. Shakur’s protagonist is Lapeace, the leader of the Eight Tray Crips gang in South Central Los Angeles. In a


The follow up to his best-selling memoir Monster, Sanyika Shakur’s T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. is a vicious, heart-wrenching and true-to-life novel about an LA gang member that masterfully captures the violence and depravity of gang life. Shakur’s protagonist is Lapeace, the leader of the Eight Tray Crips gang in South Central Los Angeles. In a deadly gunfight with Anyhow, a Blood and Lapeace’s rival since childhood, eight innocent civilians are killed. Anyhow is captured. Lapeace becomes a fugitive and he must hide out in the home of his girlfriend, Tashima, a hip-hop mogul as a pair of crooked LA detectives, John Sweeney and Jesse Mendoza, attempt to track him down.
This novel was written from the confines of Shakur’s jail cell, and the authenticity of its street scenes—the relentlessness of violence, the do-or-die attitude of each side of the gang war, the sheer joy in the killing—is a testament to the hell that has been a majority of Shakur’s life. With T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E., Shakur delivers a powerful and gripping story about the terror of gang life and one man’s attempt to free himself.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this fiction follow-up to his well-received memoir, Monster, Shakur produces a visceral and strikingly real portrayal of gang life in Los Angeles, replete with sudden and inexplicable violence, revenge, betrayal, ostentatious living, racism, the strong arm of law enforcement, drugs, love and loyalty indistinguishably blurred. Protagonist Lapeace Shakur, a high-ranking Crip, is forced to live as a fugitive when his longtime archenemy, Anyhow, a high-ranking Blood, is arrested and tortured until he confesses about Lapeace's involvement in a fatal shooting. When the word on the street comes back that there was a videotape of the shooting, it leads to the deaths of several gang bangers and some of the cops on Lapeace's trail. Shakur is better than anyone else in the street lit game at making his characters feel like real people, even if the psychology is sometimes ham-fisted. This gang life novel is the real deal. (Aug.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Like the literary equivalent of hardcore rap, this novel depicts thug life in a manner that many will find convincing and others might find disturbing. The author, a former gang leader born Kody Scott, follows up his bestselling memoir (Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member, 1993) with a novel also written from inside a jail cell. Whether he's writing fiction or nonfiction, his intent is the same: to illuminate the harsh realities and brutalities of the ghetto streets in a manner that justifies if not glorifies the sort of violence that has so many young men anticipating a life of incarceration or early death. His hero is Lapeace, leader of the Eight Tray Crips. Lapeace's antagonist since boyhood has been Anyhow, a member of the rival Bloods. After Anyhow's arrest in a burglary attempt, a couple of cops-at least one of them more amoral than any gangbanger-attempt to extort testimony from him against Lapeace. The two had been involved in a notorious massacre in which innocent bystanders were caught in the crossfire. All this seems like ancient history to Lapeace, whose latest lover is Tashima Mustafa, head of RapLife Music, and whose artists are capitalizing on the life that Lapeace knows firsthand. Trouble starts when he learns of Anyhow's arrest and escalates when he discovers that a tape exists of the massacre that the police may have and in which he can be easily identified. Yet the plot is merely a peg for Shakur's exploration of the sort of lives commemorated in rap lyrics-what the gang members wear (brand names abound), what they listen to (lots of Tupac), how they talk to each other (lots of code and street slang)-along with the fatalism of those who feel destined tolive this life and for whom white America offers no escape. The novel is also a love story, minimizing the caricatured misogyny so prevalent in gangsta rap. Not a pretty picture, but one senses that the author knows what he writes.

Product Details

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
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Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

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T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. a novel

Copyright © 2008
Sanyika Shakur
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8021-1871-4

Chapter One Inconspicuously, Anyhow opened the window and raised the venetian blinds slowly, careful not to allow the individual blades to announce his presence. He scanned the partially illuminated den with a trained eye, looking hard at corners and door frames leading to other parts of the spacious town house, which could conceal an occupant lying in wait. Seeing no hint of movement or shadow, Anyhow held fast to the lower seal and with one swift motion hefted himself up and through the window. He landed with learned precision like a stalking cat-smooth and gracious, eyes alert, ears tuned like scanners for inordinate sounds. After a moment on toes and fingertips, confident that his entrance had gone unnoticed, Anyhow lifted his short muscular frame quickly and eased to the darkest part of the room. From this point he stood as still as any inanimate object.

From his immediate left his eyes took in the room. A fifty-three-inch Mitsubishi television set stood diagonally in the corner, resembling in the dimness an Easter Island statue head. Its wide, spoon-shaped screen reflected the hall to his right from where the night light shone. He'd use it as a cautionary reflector. Atop the big screen sat two eight-by-ten photographs in chestnut-mahogany frames. Although they were not entirely visible from this distance, he could make out the fact that one was agraduation photo and the other a family photo. A raggedy car rolled by on the street in front of the house, its engine knocking badly, begging for oil and a ring job. Anyhow cursed himself for not having closed the window. They had warned him about this. Damn, he thought to himself. One photo, the graduation cap and gown one, was the most visible-visible enough, that is, to reveal the person to be an Amerikan. Something he sensed anyway by the cold temperature of the room. "They," he'd been told once, "are like polar bears." Next to the big screen on the left side stood a two-and-a-half-foot Sanyo speaker and on its top a vase with tacky ornamental designs painted on it. A door leading two steps up to what must be a kitchen, he thought, and then the window from whence he came. Under it, but slightly leftward, was a love seat made of black calfskin. On it a child's notebook was laid open with a pencil across the page. A picture of an oceanscape dominated the wall above it. To the left of the love seat stood the matching Sanyo speaker. On its top was a Holy Bible encased in glass, a long-since-dead rose stem protruded from its middle. The cold temperature of the room caused Anyhow to raise the collar of his Fila sweat jacket and clench his teeth. A longneck, mushroom-topped Tiffany lamp stood erect catty-corner to his position. Next to it was an immobile wet bar with a child's crayon drawing haphazardly taped to it. The drawing was of stick people. Behind the ebony-oak bar was a full stereo set inserted into the wall. Its reel to reel, however, stood out on a shelf made especially for it. That portion of the room was deep brown paneling, grooved expensively with wedge-end chip stone. Two Norman Rockwell drawings adorned the paneling and led to a plethora of photographs framed in different sizes, all of which covered the expanse of the entire wall. Sitting out from the wall, on an awkward-looking end table, was an antique lamp of considerable expense-a Gregorian-imported from England.

The door with the light shining through its hall broke the wall and to his immediate right stood a six-shelf bookstand densely packed with leather-bound medical texts. Where is it? Anyhow thought, feeling his blood begin to boil, which was a comforting thing against the backdrop of the icy den. They said it would be in the den. He pondered, looking slowly around the walls for something he might have missed, squenching his eyes like Steve Austin, but where in the damn ... his thoughts were cut short by a framed medical doctorate degree above his head to the right. Hmmm. He positioned himself in front of the certificate and raised his gloved hands toward it. But something furtive caught his eye to the left, and in one learned, fluid motion he reached for his Glock, drew, and fired. The room in a second's time was awash with light, gunfire, and assertive shouts. Instead of feeling secure as he had in the past when his Glock barked, Anyhow was knocked back into a ball of confusion, fear, and pain. Briefly there was light, and then came the darkness.

* * *

WESTSIDE NIGHT BANDIT CAPTURED! the headlines screamed the following morning. The paper slid across the Formica table, knocking two packs of Sweet 'n Low into the lap of Detective Sweeney. He ignored them and stared unblinking at the newspaper. He read, moving his lips without sound.

John Sweeney was a bald Irishman who'd grown up in the San Fernando Valley and lived in a state of constant fear all of his life. First he feared his domineering father, who'd taken great pains to let him never forget he was of "Fighting Irish" descent. He'd often demonstrate this fighting spirit by routinely finding something to jump on John about. Of course back in the 1970s this was not, as it is today, considered child abuse. Joseph Sweeney was also an alcoholic who'd find fault with John for the most trivial things and then use that as an excuse for history lessons through brutality. John feared and resented his father. His mother had learned her history lesson early and had long since graduated in divorce court. Because she was deathly afraid of Joseph, she didn't pursue a custody battle and John was left to his dad. As an overweight, pimple-faced boy, John caught the eye and brutish attention of the local stoners; thus, they were his second lesson in fear education. And in the late seventies, his school district began to bus in New Afrikans from South Central L.A. With a short right hook, which knocked out his two front teeth, John Sweeney met his first Crip and there started his third fear. When Career Day was held at his school, El Camino Real High, he sat at two booths and planned his future. One was the USMC booth and the other was an LAPD recruitment booth. After fearfully completing his senior year-taking all the bumps and bruises his dad, the locals, and the Crips (who were in no short supply being bused from South Central) could give him-John Sweeney joined the marines. After four years he was honorably discharged and went directly into the LAPD, assigned to the 77th division in South Central L.A. Within the 77th Division he was designated to the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums unit, better known by its acronym, CRASH-the gang detail-and Sweeney was in nirvana. Ten years with CRASH, two fatal shootings, and countless arrests later, John Sweeney made detective, assigned to the homicide unit.

John Sweeney learned every dirty trick in the book. All the years of being bullied, beaten, and ridiculed were repaid in spades over the years of his tour of duty in L.A. ghettos and ganglands. He wasn't, by any stretch of the imagination, a good cop. He was, however, a great prison warden. He was the senior dick and thus the primary in all cases given to this team. He'd been a gold shield for four years now. "Oh, shit," Sweeney chuckled between sips of his steaming coffee, "Alvin Harper is the Westside Night Bandit."

"Yeah, it says as much right there," said Jesse Mendoza, Sweeney's partner. As if Sweeney were stupid.

"No, I know that, but what I'm saying is-"

"Yeah, yeah. Don't tell me," interrupted Mendoza. "He's another shithead gang banger you knew from CRASH, right?"

"Yep, but more than that he's a suspect in some one-eighty-sevens I've not been able to make any headway on. Maybe with these twenty-two burgs over his head and him hinging on three strikes he may want to cut a deal."

"Oh, yeah, a deal," retorted Mendoza cynically. "As if we haven't bargained the city's safety away by allowing dead bang slime to walk scott fuckin' free." At that, he tipped and drained his Styrofoam cup, crushing it noisily in his hand.

"We've no more bargained this city's safety away than the government is controlled by the president. Now, what do you say we get down to County General and see ol' Anyhow before he gets sent to Central and put in the Blood Module. After he's there, his homies will fuse him with subcultural strength and he'll probably never tell." Sweeney finished off his coffee laced with Sweet 'n Low, stood, struggled into his knit blazer, and rubbed tiredly on his shaved head.

"Well, I think it'll be a dry run," responded Mendoza, giving his tailored suit the once-over.

"Yeah, your optimism is too bright, Jess." Sweeney left a dollar tip and pushed out into the early L.A. sunlight. Mendoza followed, mumbling something about the dollar being too much of a tip. They stood next to the navy blue Chevy Lumina and removed their coats, which they'd just put on not fifty yards prior. Both wore white starched button-down collared shirts. Mendoza's was long sleeved and Sweeney's was short, exposing his Steve Garvey-like arms and USMC tattoo. Although their vehicle was supposed to be unmarked, it stood out like a woman in a men's communal shower. If the fact that it had no hubcaps over its black rims, dressed in traditional black wall police tires was not enough, then certainly the license plate prefixed with "e" was a dead giveaway. The mounted antenna was an altogether different thing. Unmarked indeed. Mendoza maneuvered the turbo-charged Chevy out onto Manchester Avenue and caught the moderate flow of commuter traffic. Instinctively his left hand began to tug lightly at the left side of his Pancho Villa mustache, a habit since high school when he'd first shown signs of facial hair. It earned him the nickname Lefty. He never used it because nicknames, he felt, were precursors to being gang affiliated, nor would anyone openly refer to him as such. So, à la Benjamin Siegel, no one faced him with "Lefty." But that's what his peers knew him as.

Jesse Mendoza was a thirty-nine-year-old Chicano with deep-seeded machismo beliefs. Born and raised in the Estrada Courts housing project in East L.A., he managed through some tightwire maneuvering to escape the drag-iron recruitment net of the local gangs. In his project were the VNE, or Varrio Nuevo Estrada. Most of his childhood friends had cliqued, grown up hard in the varrio, and eventually died young or went to prison. He used his education as a means, indeed as a weapon, to fight his way out of the poverty-stricken labyrinth of Estrada Courts. Joining the LAPD was but one of four ways to actually escape the varrio. The other options, of course, generally available to most youth in the ghettos, were entertainer, athlete, or U.S. Armed Forces recruit. By joining the LAPD he did, in fact, join the U.S. Armed Forces. Five-foot-ten and thin as a rail, with sunken facial features, he looked like a mustached Detective Munch on the popular television show Homicide. He'd worn glasses up until his tour of duty began, then he was turned on to Lenscrafters and was fitted with Bausch and Lomb contact lenses. Married and the father of twin girls, he loathed being called Mexican. "Mexicans," he'd quickly say, correcting anyone who had the unfortunate luck of being so ignorant, "were born and lived in Mexico. I am a Chicano, born in Aztlán, in what you call the United States but is really Aztec land, the Chicano Nation."

Jesse Mendoza was, perhaps more than anything, a stubborn cynic. This he'd taken above and beyond the trained cynicism doled out at the academy and mixed it with a touch of machismo, pessimism, and prejudice to come up with a less than sociable personality that no one other than police officers could tolerate. Mendoza was, above all, a straight arrow. He pushed the line of law and order as it was written. He was no vigilante. He hated racism and still, while upholding the written laws of the land, knew that poor people were at a vast disadvantage in most situations in the face of the state.

The police radio squawked some coded feedback, which Sweeney instinctively turned down. The Lumina bore forward toward the on-ramp of the Harbor Freeway. Mendoza deliberately blocked off a blue custom dully truck, lowered on some gold Dayton wire rims, and shot onto the freeway accelerating constantly until he'd reached in excess of seventy mph and caught the flow of traffic as if they'd been in it since Long Beach. Both officers hated County General Hospital. The often nonlucid staff made every trip there a tedious one. The highway patrol vehicle flew past on the inner lane next to the divider. The Crown Victoria floated easily at ninety-seven mph. The only difference between the marked and unmarked CHP vehicles were row lights on top and color-reàl stealth.

"Good morning L.A.," Mendoza said sarcastically, tugging on his mustache.

Lapeace was disturbed from a pleasant dream by the dancing pager vibrating noisily on the nightstand. It had been vibing for some time but in his dream it had been his twelve-inch tubs subbing the bass line of Tupac's newest single "Hit 'Em Up." Panty-clad women danced around his 3600 Chevy Suburban as he puffed on a blunt the size of a small child. The atmosphere was too cool, but the subbing had persisted long after the song had gone off and he frowned (even in his sleep) because that meant he was getting feedback through his lines, which was a sign of sloppy instalation. In his dream, he lifted up on a cloud of indo smoke and rode it like a Jet-Ski toward the back of the block-long truck to check his amp modulation. The feedback continued until finally his REM was broken and he realized that the sound was not in his head but coming from his pager.

Slowly he opened his eyes and peered suspiciously around the room. Where the fuck am I? he thought to himself, seeing no familiar furnishings. The pager danced again, breaking his thought. He grabbed it like a screaming child with his hand over its mouth in an attempt to shut it up and pushed the received button. 29 910 459-83. He stared at the cryptic message and fell back onto his pillow as if a great load had been lifted from his chest. He closed his eyes and clenched the silent Intel pager in his massive hand and tried with no success to recapture the sight of the panty-clad women. "Shit," he muttered under his breath and looked for the first time at the woman lying sound asleep beside him. Her hourglass shape caused the deep blue triple-goose comforter to rise and lower like the mountainous contour of the Rockies. Her Brandy-like braids, strewn in thirty different directions over the fluffy pillow, were pulled back from her face exposing her beautifully sculpted features. She was evidently young, as her face glowed radiantly with young skin. What's her name? Lapeace thought to himself. Tamika? Talibah? Tayari? What? He'd done this countless times. Met a woman at a club, macked up on her, and left the club with her for a steamy sexual roll, only to forget her name the next day-or even the same night. He always said he'd do better, but things only got worse. Now here he was again with an unknown body. And where was he this time? he wondered. And my truck-this thought caused him to leap up from the bed and head for the window. Nearly tripping over a clump of clothes on the floor, his foot got momentarily caught up in a Karl Kani belt. He shook it loose, reached the windowpane and the string on the miniblinds. Through a dirty pane of glass and a barrage of bars he could make out the top of Lucky-his green Lexus 3600 Suburban XLT. Across the top of Lucky, which was parked in the driveway, Lapeace could see two Mexican men painting the trim on the adjacent house. They spoke in rapid Spanish between gulps of Corona and strokes of the paintbrush. Before lowering the blinds he tried to look up the drive to see just where he was, but the bedroom was too far back and his view was obscured by the house next door. He thought about venturing out of the room but decided against it because if she was as young as she looked she might just be living with her parents.

"Good morning, Lapeace," said a crisp, young singsong voice. Startled by the break in silence, he let go of the drawstring and the blinds crashed onto the window seal noisily.

"Damn, don't do that" he said, trying to remember her name. "You ain't right."


Excerpted from T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. by SANYIKA SHAKUR
Copyright © 2008 by Sanyika Shakur. 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

Sanyika Shakur, aka Kody Scott, was born in 1963 and grew up in South Central Los Angeles. He is the author of Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member.

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T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read the work of Sanyika Shakur in the past. This man has a debt and talent for putting you in the streets as if you are walking beside the Antagonists and Protagonists in any of his stories. You are a fly on the wall for every bit of the action.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Young quick and inteligent, 12 years of age can lift up to 50-75 lbs will face anyone anywhere anytime
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Short quick .brown haired blue eyed emotionless freak. But good looking at th same time. Fifteen years old.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tall muscular brown hair slight lighter eyes male weilds any weapon faces anyone
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the hunger games. Dont have to be here. No volintering. You just say ur name age and looks
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is good R.I.P tookie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Robert Martin More than 1 year ago
I read the first book five years ago,with this one the enlightenment goes on. Telling us ,we are not mad,some are grasping a deep history,and trying to let bros. Know this is how the man wants to keep are people ?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shemale, 16 blonde hair blue eyes, good at monopoly, bad at rememeing things, can eat 57 donuts in one minute.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Young aboe bodied. Small fast. Holds his bow and arrow. Shoots and picks up the arrow. On it is a small fly. I never wanted to join. I hate these games.