The industry has reached out to the streets for their newest artist. The streets responded with one of their best yet, his name Candyman 187.
At the age of 21, Candyman 187 has more stripes under his belt than most achieve in a life time. A product of the West and the East Coast, having spent a fair share of time in both, Candyman has a West Coast style with East Coast lyrical capabilities.
Unlike most rappers, it seems Candyman was destined for this. Hand picked by the Greatest of all time Tupac Shakur, as a member of his Havenotz (with a Z he stresses) at the tender age of 11. Candyman was put on to the game very early on.
Although his love for Tupac is very apparent, he refuses to talk too much about their meeting, as he explained to me with teary eyes, it is too painful to bring those memories up.
Now at the age of 21, Candyman has been taken under the wings and developed a real close relationship with Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Tupac’s step-father (the only man Tupac considered a father) and mentor. And Mopreme Shakur, Tupac’s step-brother, and a member of the infamous Thug Life.
“(Mu)Tulu is like a father to me, he mentors me” explains Candyman, “Mopreme is my mother*****ing nigga! That’s my heart, he is like an older brother to me.”
It is apparent that Candyman’s status as a ‘Hood Legend’ is already building. Having been shot and stabbed multiple times, coming out of a past of drug dealing, hustling, and much more, it seems God has more planned for the brother. The stories about him range from funny to crazy to very depressing. You can’t help but feel for the brother and the adversity he has outlasted.
“I’ve done it all, been through it all, that’s why niggas in ‘hoods love me, because they relate to me and my pain, they love the fact that I’m riding for them” says Candyman “they feel the hopelessness yet the fact that I still dream”
Already a household name in hoods across California, New York, and Virginia/DC, and across every Hip Hop Police and Cointelpro list, thanks to a few of his songs that were eaten up by young thugs all across.
A style/flow similar to that of Tupac’s, with his own personality mixed in, and a deep voice, which gives you more knowledge than professors at Harvard, makes it hard to ignore him when he speaks.
Highly recognized for his obsession with death, a suicidal obsession at times, and his extreme hatred of the police (this is evident in his song “***** Tha Police” where he talks about taking up arms against the police and regaining control of our communities), love for the people, and a Thug/revolutionary lifestyle. Candyman it seems is truly helping to continue the struggle Tupac started and so persistently fought for.
With his recent signing to Mob Life Records, I caught up with Candyman 187 for a long awaited interview.
As we get ready to start this interview, the eerie feelings of death, pain and hopelessness are very evident in his eyes, though he occaisionaly laughs and smiles, one look in his eyes and you can see the demons he struggles with.
Wearing a khaki (dickie) suit, with an airbrushed Tupac Shirt which has “Thug Life” written on the front and “Havenotz” written on the back, and Chuck Taylors on his feet. He reminds me of a straight old school West Coast Gangster. Rolling a blunt, with bottles of Hennessey all over the room and about 30 or more of the roughest looking brothers standing around, Candyman seems at perfect ease as he lights the blunt and a model looking sister puts some more Hennessey in his glass.
RHH: What’s happening man, how you been?
CM: Marinating my nigga, been a minute huh…
RHH: Yeah bro, since june…
CM: My nigga Pac’s (Tupac) Birthday Party! That was hellafied!
(This was also a fundraiser for Dr. Mutulu Shakur and The Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation.)
RHH: Yeah that was a beautiful event, I know a lot of New Yorkers were real happy you put that together.
CM: You said ‘I’ put it together, ‘We’ put it together. Tulu (Mutulu), Mopreme, Kamel, Nzingha, and Me. Sister Erica Ford (code foundation) and my niggaz Treach (naughty by nature), Blade, Majesty (Live Squad), J.R., Dare to Struggle, Yaasmy Fula (mother of deceased Outlawz member Yafeu ‘Yakki Kadafi’ Fula), Grassroots Artist Movement, Malcolm X Grassroots, Special Delivery of WBAI, my Mob Life Records Family, and all the home boys in New York and California and Virginia. All the thug niggas that came to show love and represent. We put that together.
RHH: I apologize, no disrespect intended.
CM: You good nigga, stop bugging. (Laughs)
(Easier said than done, as there are 2 guns on the table we are sitting on, and many more present in the room)
RHH: So what’s the deal with you and Mob Life Records? How did you come about them?
CM: Well basically I met up with all of them through Tulu (Mutulu), while we were trying to get the Tupac Birthday Bash together. They started coming to my events and showing me hella love. I knew the owner, me and him became real cool. Feel me? They just started becoming a nigga family. And after they signed my nigga Mopreme, they came at me like ‘whats popping?’ I was like I’m down nigga. So we got it cracking.
RHH: So are you recording an album for them now?
CM: Not yet, I got hella tracks I’m doing, you know a nigga gotta eat. But right now they got a few projects they’re finishing up, then my nigga Mopreme and then me.
(By now the blunt has been finished, and a New Port ciggarette has been lit in its place, I soon realize Candyman has a very unhealthy chain smoking habit.)
RHH: The streets have been waiting for you to drop for a while, its almost like you tease them with a drop every little while.
CM: (Laughs) I love the streets nigga. That’s my mother*****ing Road Dogs right there. Its the same principle as a good story teller. You give them a little bit at a time. Keep them hungry for more.
RHH: Its amazing to see a brother like you, you are a product of the streets yet you are a revolutionary. How does that feel, I mean you’ve heard the story, in the ‘hood you get more respect for going to jail then college.
CM: Revolution and the streets go hand in hand. Every Thug Life member and Havenotz member is a revolutionary, because we are all so deeply rooted in the streets. Pac picked niggas off the streets, because he knew how that goes. Real recognize real.
Its a hard position to be in, a revolutionary thug. Because I gotta walk a real thin line. Its like I can’t get too political or the streets will forget me (at this point on of the brothers in the back yells “the streets will never forget you nigga! We love you too much!”, other scream in unision). And I can’t get too street, or too gangster otherwise the Political niggas forget me. So I just stay me, real, that’s all I know.
As far as the hood giving more respect for going to jail then college, that’s some ignorant ass bull*****. It aint even true. Real niggaz respect any hustle. *****, education is key dog, that’s how you get that power. They can take everything from you, but not your education. Remeber teach their kids! The kids partner! How you finna do that if you have no *****ing education! Ignorance is bliss my nigga. Remember that.
RHH: It seems that you have learned a lot from Tupac and others.
CM: Tupac put me on to this game. For that I love that nigga and ride for him ’til I die. Mopreme still keeps me game tight. That’s my mother*****ing road dog. I love that nigga. Mutulu has put me under his wing and taught me things about the game that only an O.G like him would know. I’ve learned and continue to learn from these niggas. That’s my mother*****ing family.
(By now a half a bottle of hennessey has been finished, somebody is being sent to get more newports because Candyman is out, and another blunt has been lit. It makes you wonder how healthy of a lifestyle he lives.)
RHH: So you were very young when you met Tupac right? How’d that happen?
CM: (inhales a deep amount of smoke from the blunt) First off, please don’t compare me to Tupac. He was a legend. What he did can never be done. It is a honor to be able to be a part of what he started and did. But I will never be Tupac, no one could ever be Tupac. He was the greatest. You can only wish to accomplish half of what he did.
But yeah, I met him as a kid. I was doing some dumb ***** because I didn’t have no choice, nigga got to do what he got to do, feel me? For whatever reason he took a liking to me. (By now Candyman’s eyes become teary and his voice starts choking up). Pac had faith in me when no one else did. He gave me a reason to live. Made me a part of the Havenotz. For that I love that nigga ’til the day I die. (A few tears fall from his eyes, I began to realize just how much he loves this man). I miss my nigga, I wish he was here right now, ***** would be so much better. All these phoney mother*****ers wouldn’t be eating either.
(I can see how hard it is for him to talk about Tupac, so I decide to let that be for a future meeting)
RHH: How do you feel about all these people who claim to love Tupac?
CM: That’s good. I’m glad my nigga got so much love. Its only real. What he did for this game, nobody could. ***** half the love I get is thanks to him. Niggas just need to be real. They need to realize that we are Makaveli (Tupac’s alias was Makaveli the Don, named after Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli) trained soldiers. All of us, Thug Life, Outlawz, Havenotz. We was there for Pac when it wasn’t cool to be down with him. When the world turned on him, we were there and we turned on the world. Feel me. We loved Pac because he loved us. Not because the nigga was Tupac the multiplatinum rapper. We riders for life.
RHH: What are the Havenotz?
CM: The Havenotz are the second generation of Thug Life. We are the niggas who Tupac talked about. Pac decided there needed to be a clique to continue the Thug Life legacy. Thug Life stands for The Hate U Give Little Infants *****s Everybody, we are those infants that got that hate. We are the hopeless niggas. We didn’t have life handed to us on a silver platter. We had to and still have to earn everything we got. We riders partner. That’s why we so cool with Thug Life, because we are their seeds.
RHH: So how many Havenotz are there?
CM: *****, hella Havenotz. We got so many street niggas that I can’t even began to name them. They know who they are. Thug Life is a part of us. Me, Mopreme, Mutulu, we all Havenotz. My nigga Treach down with this *****. I mean we got so many riders and soldiers. We not just a music crew. We a mother*****ing clique. Its street niggas, hood niggas, artists, rappers, actors. West Coast, East Coast, Down South, Up North, ***** World Wide. We got it all. I’m trying to do this like some Black Wall Street *****. ‘Cept this time its all Thug niggas, real niggas. No matter your color, religion or sex. If you a real nigga then you a Havenot rider.
RHH: I’ve heard your music. You seem to contradict yourself at times. I mean here you talk about death, its almost as if its an obsession. You dealing with hatred and violence in your music, yet you talk about a better future, about giving hope, about this utopia. What’s that all about?
CM: First off, utopia is perfection, there is no such thing. The world can’t be perfect. But we can get close. We need to make that change inside first. Better yourself and then better others. I don’t think ill ever live to see that change but I do feel like I will help turn the wheels towards it. Tupac started it, I’m finna ride for it.
As far as me contradicting my self, its like this playa. I’m a nigga. Niggas contradict themsleves. ***** we as human beings contradict ourselves. I don’t make music, I put out my feelings. There aint a nigga alive that just thinks positive at all times. One day I feel like talking bout tricks, and *****es, and cowards, and blasting these mother*****ing phonies. The next I may feel like showing love to my sisters, giving props to the real niggas, respecting my people. That’s real. These rappers out here talking all that ra ra about they just gangster, they be shooting niggas and they pushing major weight. Come on partner, if that’s true why the ***** you rapping? An average rapper makes about 20 g’s a year. That’s what you make working at a *****ing McDonalds! So if you pushing major weight and you out here killing niggas on the daily and *****. Aint no reason for you to be rapping. ***** out of here. I’m a real nigga I talk how I feel. How many niggas you know that talk about getting sexually abused as a kid? I did, because it happened to me. That don’t make me no less of a man than the next nigga. ***** it make me realer partner. That’s why mother*****ers feel me, because I don’t give a *****, I speak the real. If I feel like saying ***** Bush, which I do, so ***** You Bush!. You feel me. I’m the type of nigga you either love or you love to hate, but you can’t say I’m wrong. Niggas got to start being real to each other. Respecting our sisters. Because there are real sisters. Game tight nigga.
RHH: What about this obsession with your death?
CM: Its more of a coming to grips with reality. Niggas don’t wanna see me make it, they finna kill me. I mean why be afraid to die? Its promised, it starts the day your born. I may be a little exceptional because I want death. I wake up every morning hoping to die. Death is tranquility and freedom to a nigga like me. Cointelpro, Feds, Pigs, Haters, these square ass tricks are not finna let me live. So I want to make sure that when I go, I go immortal. Niggas remember my name for the coming centuries. I’m *****ed up, I know this, but I’m also not happy, I want to leave. Therefore there is no fear of death in me. I invite it. Infact I think death is scared of taking a nigga like me (laughs).
RHH: That’s deep. So I heard you want to try to bring back the codes of Thug Life?
CM: Yeah loc (?), me, Mopreme, all the real niggas we finna bring it back. Niggas done forgot that there were rules to this *****. That there is codes to this *****. Tupac along with Tulu and my home girl, queen Erica Ford came up with a list of codes of conducts for Thugs to follow world wide. Niggas forgot that. Niggas think Thug Life is a *****ing fashion. This ***** is real home boy. We ride or die partner. Niggas don’t even know what thugs are. They think we bad, we rob, we steal. Naw fool. A thug is anybody who go against the odds. We wasn’t meant to survive, but we did. Now we here, doing the damn thing! And they can’t stand it! (Laughing) This Thug Life nigga we can’t be stopped.
RHH: So these rules or codes as you say can when will we be able to see them?
CM: They already been out. But we finna bring them out again. Seperate the real from the phonies, enemies from the homies. Feel me. We gone have dudes giving them out on street corners, in my album, talk about them, feel me. Niggas need to unite. Stop killing each other. Pigs is the mother*****ing enemy. If you got to kill, kill those mother*****ers. There aint finna be no peace until we get some, remember,Pac even told niggas this. If niggas is real then lets ride. Everytime they shoot one of us. We take 50 of them. These niggas will get the point real quick. We not *****ing around! Ride or mother*****ing Die Nigga!
RHH: So how do you feel about the Hip Hop World as of now?
CM: ***** the world. Whether hip hop or the other world. Hella phoney ass perpertrating ass niggas. Nothing but love for my real niggas though. The real mother*****ers know where I’m coming from.
RHH: So the Tupac Birthday Bash was a beautiful event. Do you part take in other events like this?
CM: Ofcourse! Man we all about the community. That’s what this Thug Life Havenotz thing about. That event was lovely. We did the damn thing. Erica Ford also put together a gang convention in New York. I was there for that. Had to represent. You know how much gang violence there is, we tryin to put an end to that. Shout outs to the real banging ass niggas out there. Also this thanksgiving we trying to put together a dinner for the homeless. The organization I’m with, Grass Roots Artist Movement, is also bringing affordable if not free health care to the community. We put together a free check up day for niggas and *****. Feel me anything to do with the community and streets, I’m down for it, I ride for it. That’s what this Thug Life is about. Niggas got it twisted.
RHH: That’s amazing my brother, you realy doing your thing. I know you have to move on, so are there any last words you wanna say?
CM: Yeah to my niggas. Nothing but love my niggas. Ride with your heart on your sleeve and death by your side riders. Lets do this Thug Style. Bring the real niggas back. This ***** is all about the kids, the youth. Be real partner. Check out Dr. Mutulu Shakur’s website. WWW.MUTULUSHAKUR.COM. Show him love. That’s a real nigga. Put yourself up on this *****. Cointelpro, feds, pigs, all these cowards don’t wanna see us make it. Its on us to unite and survive. Follow the code my niggas.
Much luv to my mother*****ing road dogs and niggas Mopreme Shakur, buy that album, he one of the realest mother*****ers in the game. Thug life OG. Love my nigga.
My nigga Treach, what’s poppin souljah. Mutulu Shakur, you like a father, love you pops. The beautiful Nzingah Shakur, that’s a queen. My sister Erica Ford, my nigga Profit doing the damn thing in Virginia. Jona in Lake Town. Digital Underground, Money B and Shock G, what’s popping my niggas, Blade, what up homey. Majesty, keep riding family. Mob Life Family, 730, SG, Hella Tight, Elijah. Thug Life Family, Big Syke, Macadoshis. Havenotz Family. 50 Niggaz Family. Kamel, J.R., MG, Ife, Wbai family, Burner, My mother*****ing home girl, my heart Troublesum, Division X, North Star, Majesty and Overthrow Family, Baron and Red Clay, Slik Da Relic, Neh and L James, Francis, Dead prez, Immortal Technique, Hassan Salaam, G.A.M.E. Family, Undersiege Family, Daddy, Boogie and Bump, The Lox, Styles, Jada, Sheek, Terror Squad Family, Outlaw Family, Shakur Family, Fatal and family, Yaasmyn Fula, Hitemup.com family, Stephen Dunn and Chris, Napolean and family, Jerzey Mob, Pee Wee Kirkland, E-40, Mac Mall, B. Legit, The Clique, Snoop Dogg, The Luniz, Newkleus aka Kold Hearted, Dj Fatal, 100.3 the beat family, Hot97 family, MTV Family, BET Family, New Child, My little brothers and sister, Sunniya, Akbar, and Haider. Mark Shrems and Driven Entertainment. All the west and east coast riders. All my banging ass niggas, Thug niggas, riders, and all my other homies holding it down. These niggas with me now, my street niggas, I love you all. You made me, I’ll never forget that. Just don’t lose the faith. If I forgot you, my fault you know I love you.
Thug In Peace to all the fallen soldiers. Tupac Amaru Shakur aka Makaveli the Don, I love you my nigga. We know you here riding with us in the spirit. Still representing big homey. Ride for you until the end. Yakki Kadafi, I know you holding it down soldier. B.I.G, Big Pun, Aaliyah, Freaky Tah, Left Eye, Big L, Eazy E, Souljah Slim, Fred Hampton, all the fallen homies, we miss you and we continue to celebrate your lives and legacies. May Allah watch over you.
To all the comrades in lock down, keep your head up. Mutulu Shakur, Sekou Odinga, Mumia, Herman Bell, Geronimo, Shyne, and everyone else. Keep riding, stay strong. See you when we free you.
And my love to the queen Assatta Shakur and my Homey Ali Bey and the rest of the Panther family, Young Lord Family, Panama, everybody, much love.
Last but not least, you my nigga. Real Hip Hop, holding it down, keep it popping. Appreciate the love my nigga.
Oh and ***** THE POLICE!
One Thug One Nation!…
RHH: Thank You Candyman. Its been a honor.
As I walk away from our interview, thinking about our conversation. I try to understand how it must feel to be in his shoes. The responsibilities of having to carry on such a legacy. I feel his pain and misery and I realize there’s nothing I can do to help him but support him. Because beneath those tattoos, jewelry, and clothes lies a young 21 year old child, who has given his life for the struggle. Who has sacrificed his self, everything and continues to do so for us. And we thought Angels didn’t exist.
Now I realize just how deep this brother is. Tupac, Mutulu, Mopreme and life seems to have taught him so much. The knowledge, the pain, the hate, the love, the mistakes, the loss, the Thug, the aura of this brother is amazing. And just like everybody else who Tupac touched or was close, you can see his soul in Candyman.
As I look around me and see all the young thugs, gangsters, little kids, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, suit and tie workers, the 9 to 5 workers, drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, addicts, teachers, the homeless, and all other people regardless of race, color or creed. I see why they loved and felt Tupac so much. And I see how they love and feel Candyman so much. Because both these brothers have always been ‘real’. And in each and every person you see a part of them.
It makes me want to cry, be happy, and thankful to have him with us. And as the lyrics to his song keep repeating themselves in my head. And I pray, “Lord please don’t take this brother away from us yet, let him live to achieve the greatness he is destined for.
“I’ve been wanting to die, itching to get killed, since my younger days.
No one lives forever any ways.
Death is tranquility, only way to set a nigga free.
So please understand my lifestyle, a born martyr for the streets.
Have mercy God! My niggaz forgive me…”
Links and information derived from:
Also personal conversations with Candyman 187, Mopreme Shakur and others at the Tupac Shakur Birthday Bash. A conversation with Candyman 187 in Brownsville, Ny. And an interview with Candyman 187 in Harlem.