F.E.D.S..: You're smiling, but the rest of us want to know how you managed to become one of Harlem's young great ones.
AZ: (after a long pause)......I never looked at myself like that.....but I guess other people did, and I wasn't trying to do that but....... it happened. I guess.
F.E.D.S..: But you are aware that you've made quite a reputation for yourself, after all we have many hustlers, but we don't have many hustlers like you.
AZ: True, I played the game, I played the game fair and I took the business seriously.
F.E.D.S..: And that business was?
AZ: Drugs.....cocaine not crack. Straight cocaine.....why did I sell cocaine? (He comments to himself).....I started selling coke like around 1980 or late 1983...like November.
F.E.D.S..: How old were you then?
AZ: About nineteen, nah, about seventeen
F.E.D.S..: Did you know Richard Porter at that time?
AZ: Yeah......we went to school together, he lived up the block from me, we like grew up together, matter fact, at first I was working in the cleaners right across the street from where he lived at, Rich used to hustle on Amsterdam Avenue and 145th Street.....and Rich wasn't selling what you would call real drugs at the time. He used to sell some shit to the white boys, I don't know where he learned it from, he ain't never tell me, but that shit used to work. He used to go to the supermarket and get a seasoning called sage and some eggs, take all the sage and put in a bowl, then crack two eggs, mix it, put it in the oven and let it cook.....then the shit would get hard, then he'd take it out and mash it down flat.......once it dried, it looked just like a drug that people smoked called hash.....it looked and smelled exactly like hash...hashish. White boys used to come from Jersey and Rich used to sell them pieces for like twenty, fifty dollars, he used to stay fresh like that, sheepskins... leather bombers.
F.E.D.S.: What were your conditions at home?
AZ: Home, ....my moms was on welfare, you know, sisters not going to school....welfare threating to cut us off and I was one that never liked to see my moms cry...that's why I started workin' in the cleaners and every dime I would make....if I made a quarter, she would get thirteen cents of it,...know what I'm sayin', and it's how it was, and working in that cleaners it didn't earn me but so much money even though I was like runnin' the place....runnin it. I was just getting a hundred dollars a week and I was able to give my moms seventy five of that. The cleaners owner was a number banker, I used to travel back and forth on a bike, he bought me on the simple fact.....so I could travel with this money....it made me feel like I was a hustler, anyway.
F.E.D.S.: So, why don't you tell me when you took that step up?
AZ: When me and Jimmy,...the cleaners owner, we had an argument 'cause I wanted more money, he went into a thing about how he wasn't makin' no money in the cleaners.. whatever...whatever...he was frontin', cause his main business was the numbers, the cleaners was a front.
F.E.D.S.: In other words, he had you doing his dirty work and not wanting to pay you for it?
AZ: Nope, he ain't wanna pay me....in deed....after that we had the fall out. I was messing with Rich sister around that time.
F.E.D.S.: Patricia Porter?
AZ: Yeah, yeah....but hold up, before I quit, I used to...on Sunday's I would open up the cleaners, say I had twenty five dollars, my man Slim would buy shit from the liquor store like Wild Irish Rose and this and that, so on Sunday's I would double the price of the liquor for the alcohol and sell it out of the cleaners for double the price since the liquor store was closed, and that's when I started getting into the hustle game.....it was short money though.
F.E.D.S.: Could this be around the time when you became affiliated with Alpo?
AZ: Na...Alpo came later on, after Rich got locked up...what happened was Alpo knew Rich. Rich was in a shoot out with this kid who robbed L.A.'s mothers' house...Rich was his man...they say the same kid who robbed L.A.'s house was the same kid who killed him...you know....Rich was in a shoot out with the kid ...and wound up getting busted in the shoot out and was charged with attempted murder on the police. The other kid got away, so they had to blame Rich for something, he got caught with a gun that had been fired, so Rich copped out to the pistol charge instead of attempted murder on the police and wound up getting six months in prison....around that time I was at a game on 139th street....I had just got in my car and pulled off and I seen this motorcycle tailgating me and shit, so I pulled over in front of my store I had on 145th Street, my man Lou seen the motorcycle tailing me and gave me that signal like "who that?" I'm like...'I don't know'...Lou had the joint on him...So, Alpo approached the car....Lou was right there, Alpo took off his helmet to shake my hand and shit, Lou was like that's that kid Alpo....so Alpo and I start kickin' it.
F.E.D.S.: So at that point, what kind of person did Alpo strike you to be?
AZ: After talking to Rich, he said Alpo was cool... look out for him, so I gave him a lil' something....Alpo was that person that had to be seen, you know, I wasn't the type to wanna hang out, get dressed, party....never did....I walk around with my hair nappy....I ain't give a fuck, maybe with twenty thousand in my pocket, and a nice car....I ain't care about all that other shit....Alpo was that type,....I guess he wanted to be that big nigga so bad, that he used to come around like everyday...'yo. What's up A'....'wanna ride with me'....or....'A, could I hold that car'..... he was the type of person that would push his way in the house.. understand.
F.E.D.S.: Are you saying that you put Alpo on, because most people from that circle did assume that he was that 'big nigga'?
AZ: .....You could say that. I put him on...yo, I remember one time I was going to buy my girl a Volvo station wagon, Alpo was with me. When we went into the dealership they had this new car that had just came out called the Impulse and he was like 'yo, this shit is fat, damn!', so I said, you want that?, He was like, 'if I had this shit I don't know what I'd do',.....I went in the trunk and I asked the man how much it cost, he said like seventeen thousand, I said yall could get it ready within the next couple of hours and I bought it for him? out called the Impulse and he was like 'yo, this shit is fat, damn!', so I said, you want that?, He was like, 'if I had this shit I don't know what I'd do',.....I went in the trunk and I asked the man how much it cost, he said like seventeen thousand, I said yall could get it ready within the next couple of hours and I bought it for him?
F.E.D.S.: You have seventeen thousand dollars in the trunk of your car?
AZ: I had about fifty thousand in the trunk of my car......so I bought him the car and after that it seemed like he would do anything I'd tell him to do.....I wasn't using it like that....I was just doing it to make him happy or you know.....to show him that it's all good right here.
F.E.D.S.: In earlier conversations you've said that Alpo was annoying and that he did a lot of things that contributed to the down fall of Richard and yourself, as well as everything that you established in the streets.
AZ: Yeah, he became very annoying...he became like he didn't give a fuck....meaning like, if you a hustler and you know you doing wrong and you know it's against the law to sell drugs.....you're not gonna be out there broadcasting that you this nigga and that nigga.....but that's how Alpo was....I remember one time we was comin' from a hotel or something, with some girls and the Rooftop skating rink was on 155th Street and 8th Avenue and he was like 'yo, take me to the garage', 'cause we was in my car, 'yo, hurry up, A'.....so he could get his car and make it.
F.E.D.S.: Where did Rich fit back into all of this, when he came back on the scene?
AZ: Well, Rich was there, but that shit never bothered him, Rich used to be to his self.....Rich was the type that would come out early and go in early like around 10:00.....he wasn't hangin' out and partyin', none of that shit, he had like one girl and shit.
F.E.D.S.: Any particular reason why he didn't participate in the usual, as opposed to you and Alpo"?
AZ: That's the way.....I think.....he liked to handle his business....I guess.....He was real neat, never wore the same outfit twice, kept a haircut, kept his jewelry sparklin'...no gaudy shit, but it was expensive, he would wear a ring with like one stone worth like seven or eight thousand, you know.....rolex....he carried his self real respectable and shit, he wasn't into all that crazy shit, but Alpo would try to bring shit around....Rich probably went in the Rooftop once and he went with Alpo....like 'come on, come on', Alpo was like a freak for that shit, 'you let's go to queens, let's go to Forty projects, let's go over to the Baisley projects, I'm tellin' you, let niggas know!'......but me and Rich was crazy laid back.......I remember Rich hung out late with me....we used to build sometimes,the S&S Club was rockin' that night on 145th was in Rich car, Rich had a 16 valve Mercedes Benz.....gold, with gold pipin'...we was cruisin', and it seemed like everybody in front of the S&S, like over a hundre d people......just seemed to stop and look at us....me and Rich looked at each other.......Rich put the car in first gear and started moving away real slow, he said, 'yo, you felt that, I said, word....I said, yo, I'm scared, he was like, me too, yo mutha fuckas lookin' at us like we stars or somethin'......and that's when I first realized.....like they said people was looking at us......AZ; Alpo and Rich.
F.E.D.S.: I'm trying to imagine how the two of you must've felt that night, it must've been spooky, but then soon after that something even more terrifying happened, on the twentieth day of August, 1987 when you and some of your loved ones were shot down and left for dead in a Bronx apartment.
AZ: (after a long pause)........August twentieth, 1987......the situation was like this, the person that set me up was my sister's former boyfriend, when I was young and working for the cleaners he was hustlin' for some older guy and he wound up robbing the guy, he took like a kilo or somethin' from the guy so he was runnin' around with guns on him.......he was like the first person I ever seen smoke crack, I seen him cookin' the coke up and then smokin' it.......he used to keep money, he used to hit me off with shorts when he was messin' with my sister, twenty, fifty dollars, here and there.......so he got busted for some shit, and went to prison.
F.E.D.S.: What led him to want to kill you?
AZ: I guess the word in prison was AZ, Alpo and Rich.....so when he came home, he came to see me, he was like what's up I heard you runnin' things or whatever.....I gave him a Saab convertible, brand new, if the year was '87, the car was '89 '90 'cause that's how we was movin'........if you had your joint more than six months, ya shit was old, that's how we was playin'.....I gave him that.....and I gave him a block (cocaine)......so he was rollin' when he came out of prison, I felt he used to look out for me, even though he wasn't messin' with my sister no more...but still, on August twentieth, 1987, at my aunt's apartment in the Bronx, where I used to like stash my drugs at.......I knocked on the door and he opens the door with a uzi and two other guns.
F.E.D.S.: How did he get into your aunt's apartment?
AZ: ...He had to have pushed her in when she came from work...I don't know.....how did he know where she lived at?.......I don't know 'til this day....but to me, if a bank get robbed and someone gets away with the robbery, it's a inside job, bottom line.....when he opened the door he grabbed me, I had my man with me, Charlie, and this girl Lynette, they grabbed us and took me to the living room, they took Lynette and my man Charlie to the bedroom where they had my aunt and she had two friends with her...so, they had five people back there, they took the safe out the closet and told me to open it, meanwhile, they had everybody in the bedroom handcuffed, laying face down....one of them hit me in the head with the pistol and was like open up the safe nigga......I was bleedin' and shit, trying to open up the safe, when you dealing with a safe you have to be accurate, if you go pass the number you have to start all over again and under those conditions of being hit with a pistol.....looking up and seeing it was Kev, a nigga I just looked out for, I was puzzled, so I was like yo Kev, and his man hit me again with a pistol and said, "don't say his name mutha fucka"......then it came to a point where I just couldn't open the safe....I got nervous to a point where I knew I wa s gonna get murdered, so my plans was to try to get out of the apartment some kind of way, one nigga had everybody at gunpoint in the back, the other guy was pacing with the gun, Kev was standing over me with the uzi so I said listen, ain't no money in the safe but I got like $200,000 at my house, just don't hurt nobody and yall can take me to go get the money....it was madd hot outside that day, I had on a white t-shirt, grey sweat pants and some white reeboks, my t-shirt was madd bloody.....Kev was like, o.k....you comin' with me but you can't leave with that bloody shirt on, so his man came out the room and was like, get up, he took me to the bathroom to wash my face, he had on two t-shirts so he gave me one to put on.......then Kev whispered something in the guy's ear while he had the uzi pointed at me in the bathroom....the guy went in the living room and turned the radio up real loud......nigga went in the bedroom and all I heard was gunshots and I knew they was murdering everybody....my actions was li ke I grabbed him trying to get outta there.....shit happened so fast, kid came out the back and put the gun to my forehead and pulled the trigger.....I seen him pull the trigger.....I felt the steel.......
F.E.D.S.: Did Kev shoot you in your head, too?
AZ: Na, it was this kid named Ronald....but in reality all three of them shot me....I had three different bullets in me a 9mm, 38 cal. and a 32, shot in the head twice, once in the neck, once int the shoulder and three in the leg,.....just for being AZ, and it's sad that people wanna take that route.
F.E.D.S.: Truly sad. How much did they walk with? I ask this question only to put a light on the decay of the value of human life.
AZ: I had five thousand dollars in my pocket, that I won from a basketball game and a diamond cross that costs about seven g's,....that's all they got.
F.E.D.S.: How many people died in that horrible blood bath?
AZ: ........my aunt Joan died, my man Charlie died, a friend of my aunts', Myra Enoch, Lynette got shot in the head, she lived....and my aunts' friend Michael Lamar survived gunshot wounds.
F.E.D.S.: As a result of that lifestyle, you not only lost friends and relatives, but you lost your best man.
AZ: ...yeah, that was my man.....God Bless Charlie...I love you, baby...when I got shot I felt guilty, I felt like all all those people lost their lives 'cause they was comin' to rob me.... that's when I started realizing, the drug game ain't what niggas think it is....it's not........after getting shot I went into the music game, forming a group named Mobstyle. In the music game, I came across a lot of snakes very fast. One guy was a promotion man introduced to me by J. Robinson named Bernard Thomas. Bernard asked a lot of questions about my past so I quickly left Bernard alone. Bernard years later was the inside informant placed by the F.B.I....to bring down Kevin Childs. He also brought down Dave Tavdash (The one who discovered R. Kelly) on cocaine kingpin charge.
--Story by Shelly & Agent 21912