Inside Watts CA Hood – Imperial Court Projects

Mar 25, 2023 779.6K Views 1.7K Comments

Today we meet up with Watts local Bwuan who brings us into his world at Imperial Courts Projects. He teaches about the inter-workings of the hood and why he returns often now that he lives in East Hollywood.

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► Video edited by: Natalia Santenello

[engine revving]
[people praying]
[engine revving]
[engine revving]
[sound of the plane flying]
PETER: You’re Mayans
and you’re having a ceremony right now?
MAN: Yes, we pray for the world.
For peace in the world.
This is the most important for the kids,
for the childrens.
MAN: If you want something in your heart,
pray and ask for them.
PETER: Put this in the fire?
[praying in Spanish]
-Thank you.
-Muchos gracias.
PETER: Hasta luego. (See you later)
All right, guys,
what a way to start a video.
So, Los Angeles, everybody here…
You got the Hollywood Hills up there.
You have Compton over there.
Today we’re meeting a man
that grew up in the projects
and now lives in Hollywood.
And he was saying to me over the phone
how difficult it is to leave the projects.
So today we’re gonna meet up with him.
Get as close to the source as possible
and learn something along the way.
Let’s do this.
♪ hip hop ♪
BWUAN: What up big homie?
PETER: Here we are, Bwuan.
-Back at it again,
it’s nice to see y’all again.
Y’all know what’s up.
Got Pete here, man.
-So Bwuan was in a video last year
and today we’re gonna
go through your story.
-We’re gonna show where you lived.
Where you started and where you are now.
-That’s the basic rundown, right?
-I think a lot of people
had a lot of questions last time.
So we’re gonna answer
a lot of them questions this time.
-These are your buddies?
-Everybody around here is family.
PETER: Family, everyone’s a family?
-Family, ain’t no buddies, friends…
MAN: Day one, sandbox.
Who does your fashion, man?
‘Cause you’re poppin’
the yellow with the yellow
and everything seems to work.
-This how we dress. Like, we…
See, the projects, the ghetto,
like, we big on fashion.
-Your buddy’s got it going,
the hat with the boots.
-Yeah, we big on fashion,
that’s what we do.
-The white with the white,
I just look like East German tourist guy.
-Nah, you on too, that’s swag.
-Just all black?
-That’s the swag where you at.
-I need to pop, I need some pop.
BWUAN: We gonna go back around.
PETER: Take care, guys.
-This is the East Side,
so our lingo and all that
is different from the West Side
where they would say, like, South Central.
Like, they come out,
“He from the West Side.”
“That’s a West Side N*gga,
he from Compton or he from Watts.”
Like, you know.
But we from the East Side,
so they call us, like gutter.
PETER: What’s up guys, I’m rolling video
is it all right if you guys are on it or…
-Is that cool? All right.
-Yeah, these my people’s right here.
-My boy.
[hands clap]
PETER: So you guys agree.
So you can tell instantly if someone’s
from Watts, from Compton, from Long Beach?
-Yeah, everyone got their own type of swag.
Where would you say I’m from?
[all laughing]
I’m in the valley with the Karens,
living with the Karens.
Do you guys live here now?
-Oh, you don’t live here now, interesting.
-When y’all see us, majority of the people
outside over here don’t live over here.
-Yeah, this all where we started.
-People just look, they come around,
“Oh, this is the project, this ain’t much.”
“Why you wanna come stand out right here?”
“Why you wanna do this?” or
“Why you wanna do that?”.
The same reasons why you go meet up
with your family or your friends,
and y’all do what y’all do.
If it’s the golfing
or whatever the case is, whatever.
We got basketball courts here
and my people, they ballin’,
whatever sometimes too,
they pull up and ball.
It’s our family.
Everything that’s out there is here.
Like, all right, how a rich person
would come over here
and probably feel like they’re
uncomfortable or they don’t belong here.
PETER: How do you feel
when you go to the rich neighborhood?
-When I first was going around there
it was like…
I wouldn’t say it was big.
It was none of that,
I just felt like it wasn’t me.
I didn’t belong.
Like, when I talk
and when they talk, and everything else.
Like, don’t get me wrong.
I could always just switch it up and say,
“Hey, how are you doing today?”
and like, you know?
But it take a lot for me
to change my words up,
and switch my words up,
to talk like that.
I might slip up and have my little accent.
They might not understand everything.
So it would just be, if I go over there,
it’s pretty much questions.
“Oh, how y’all do this?” and
“Oh, how you do this?”,
and “How y’all do that?”.
It’s not that blend.
PETER: What would happen, guys, if I
just came in solo mission without Bwuan?
BWUAN: It depends who you coming’ across.
-If I just came in alone,
would that be cool or no?
-It depends, it depends who see you.
Yeah, how you present yourself,
who you see.
-What you askin’ for, lookin’ for.
-What that person going through.
-How you coming’?
-You feel me?
If I go to a rich neighborhood,
it might be somebody that slide past me,
pull up on me and say,
“Hey, I buy these type of cars.”
and drive you off the road.
You get what I’m saying?
So when you come over here
you might have somebody
that’s just got a messed up attitude
already and been around here.
So they observe from what’s over here.
They probably hungry,
been hungry for the next few days.
They probably ain’t got no money,
probably been figuring out how they got it.
They probably see something they like.
Somebody might be high,
got to get some more of they drugs.
Some people, say, hardcore drugs,
they do whatever they do.
They might not do nothing to you
but once you walk away
from your car or whatever…
Like, I ain’t trying to set nothing up
for nobody.
And just be like, you can just
come over here and be a good person
and you gonna be all right.
-Right, right.
-Like, you start to
determine the different people.
Like, you walk around us,
you ain’t got nothing to worry about
because we people, like,
we ain’t got nothing to take.
We don’t wanna take nothing from you.
But there’s other people that don’t
know how to…
-Okay, it depends who.
-And that’s how they make it
through every day life around here.
PETER: You always have this, huh?
The helicopters?
BWUAN: LAPD got a routine
that they take every hour.
That they ride around.
Watch right here, LA, these areas,
South Central, all the projects.
-How’s crime these days?
-Got worser.
It got worse this year.
-Yeah, it’s been worser
than this before though, it’s hot.
-Like the ’90s were worse, right?
But right now crime is heavy, like,
there’s a lot of murders and everything.
That boosted up this year.
Not too crazy like it’s been
but it’s crazy.
How many places have you lived in here?
-Go for it buddy.
-What’s up, little man?
One, two, I stayed in a lot.
We moved from right here,
this is about when I was about,
like, seven or whatever.
We moved with my auntie right here,
my mom was trying to get back on her feet
and get her own place or whatever.
This was low-income.
She couldn’t get back up on here
’cause she lost it.
She had to end up getting back
on the waiting list which is years.
-It’s tough to get into
these places right now?
-Yeah, it’s like…
The waiting list is long.
-How much do they cost for people,
do you know?
It depend on your income,
some people don’t pay low-income
just ’cause it’s the projects.
Some people pay regular rent.
Which is around LA…
-It all depends what you make?
-Yeah, it depends on what you make.
Like, if you got a good job and you’re
not on government assistance or whatever
then that’s what you got, but if you ever
was to lose your job or whatever,
you won’t have to worry about,
“Oh, how I’m gonna pay my bills,
and my home, and all that?”.
You just go report your income
as you don’t have that job now
and then your rent will go down.
-So growing up here
when you get into your teen years
is there a pull to like,
you want to get out of the projects?
Does everyone want that?
-You have some people that want it
and you have some people that just,
like, want this.
Like, we already been around here
our whole life when we grew up
and it’s like
they ain’t thinking past this.
A lot of people stop going to school
in middle school and all that.
They hustle and stick around here,
and be around here.
So it’s like this the route they chose.
[child screaming]
-Some people chose a better life
but they mom probably…
Like for example,
I wanted to play football.
I wanted to play sports and all that.
My mama couldn’t afford Pop Warner.
I wasn’t able to do that,
led to me being around here.
I’m hanging out around here and all that.
We were throwing football around here
and we could do that every day
but then it’s like after we do that
we’re still here, and we gotta go…
You know, gotta do something else.
Where is everyone today?
Um, probably asleep.
Today’s Saturday morning.
-Sleep, out the way, and in between.
Like if you swing your camera around,
you know.
-Little action.
♪ jazz coming from house ♪
BWUAN: It sound good, yeah.
PETER: Who is that?
BWUAN: That’s Sow,
that’s one of our elders over here.
But you know they probably
cleaning up cooking.
Got to do that jazz, got blues going.
That’s how it is.
-So this person knows this person,
knows this person?
Everyone knows everyone pretty much?
-I wouldn’t say that, it’s like, um…
It’s not everyone knows everyone.
It’s everyone that grew up around here
and been in the projects all they life.
Like you get what I’m saying?
-Family members and all that.
It’s plenty of generations,
like, it spreads.
I don’t know if it’s the love,
the attention, the comedy.
It’s all types of stuff around here.
So when people come around they get stuck.
Like they get stuck,
you got people come from the suburbs.
Like, I got friends,
and know females or whatever and all that.
They actually come from the suburbs
and all that,
and they came out here
to go to UCLA, or whatever, or USC.
Go to college basically
but ended up hanging around somebody
that was in the projects or whatever
and came to the projects and just
really fell in love with over here.
Like, you know?
And, like, in the wrong type of way.
Where it’s like someone like me,
I want to get up out of here
but like I said, I still come around.
-When did you want to get out of here?
-I always wanted to.
-Like as a kid?
-Yeah, I always…
Watch your step,
that might be a bit slippery.
I always wanted to travel.
-Just travel the world.
So it wasn’t like get up outta here,
just leave, don’t look back.
Nah, it was just like
I always wanted to travel.
This is right here, like a lot of people
don’t really get away from here.
You can leave and come back.
Hey, hey, waddup wit y’all, baby?
Getting this vlog done,
y’all cool with the camera being on y’all?
MEN: Yeah, yeah.
We can swing this way.
-These your buddies?
-Yeah, these my homies.
PETER: How you guys doing?
MAN: Good, what’s your name, bro?
PETER: Peter.
-So then look, he got this bike.
-Nice bike.
So like I said,
understand why we come around.
PETER: Whose bike is this?
MAN: It’s mine, Rare Breed.
BWUAN: They got their clubs.
MAN: Rare Breed,
you gotta get that Rare Breed though.
PETER: You’ve been
polishing this thing obviously.
-You gotta get Rare Breed though, see?
PETER: Rare Breed, what’s that?
Is that your club?
-Right there, that’s the eagle, yep.
We got 42 states.
PETER: How are things here lately,
you guys?
How’s the hood?
-Everything’s straight, man.
-Calm. Peace and calm.
-So you feel the connection,
you feel the family here?
-Oh yeah, that’s all it is,
everybody’s family.
BWUAN: He was like,
“Everybody know everybody?”.
I said, “No, it’s deeper than that,
we ain’t just friends or homies.”
“We all family.”
-From Pampers.
-You grew up with this guy?
-Yeah, right up under me.
BWUAN: Yeah, they watched me grow up.
-I’m 47, so he up under me.
BWUAN: Yeah.
-I watched him ride around
on bikes and all that.
PETER: You’re 47?
-What are you drinking, man?
-Oh, this soda right here.
-That shouldn’t make you look young,
but it’s working.
Keep at it, man.
-I ain’t started with the liquor yet.
It ain’t after two yet. [chuckles]
-Look at this…
Look at these motherf*ckers.
[engine revving and tires squealing]
[engine revving]
[engine revving and tires squealing]
[man yelling]
[engine revving and tires squealing]
PETER: You guys think
you can do that in the minivan?
-Oil up the tires?
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BWUAN: Hey, go crazy, man.
[engine revving and tires squealing]
BWUAN: He got it though.
I thought he was gonna hit the curb.
He got it, yeah.
He right here.
[man yelling] Wait, wait, wait!
[engine revving and tires squealing]
BWUAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[excited chattering]
So yeah, man.
So this one of the units,
that happen frequently…
[voice drowned out by engines]
That mother****er tight.
This is the unit right here we moved from.
That’s the one we lost.
This the one I grew up in,
it’s a three bedroom.
I stayed up in there ’til I was about,
like, seven, eight.
Oh, they got a whole
Jesus Christ shrine going on here.
PETER: It’s okay if I come in here?
WOMAN: Come in.
-Oh cool, thank you.
Wow, very nice.
What does the money wheel mean?
-You praise God, he brings money.
So if you’re praying to him and, you know,
with a a lot of trust and all that,
He will actually…
He makes miracles happen.
BWUAN: So, you know,
this is they own place.
Prayer ground.
-Hey, Miguel, how you doing?
PETER: So religion plays
a big part in your life?
-No, honestly no.
-Religion isn’t… Well, we’re Catholics
but we’re not really about, like,
going to church every day.
-But we have our, you could say Santos
that we look up to.
That we pray to every day.
He’s made a lot of miracles happen,
like things that we don’t want to happen,
makes it go right, you know?
Things that go wrong,
he makes them go all right.
Better than they’re supposed to.
Like you’re low on money,
you gotta be like,
“You know what, send me at least work.”
you know?
You’re not gonna get money like that
but at least with some work
you’re gonna get some money.
-You know?
PETER: Thank you,
that’s okay to record that? That’s okay?
-Yeah, of course.
BWUAN: Appreciate it.
-Hasta luego.
-What’s you doing, baby?
You wanna be on the blog?
-You okay being on camera?
-He ain’t trippin’.
He ain’t worried about nothing.
-What’s your name?
-Man, I wish we had a dirt bike
or something, him, he ride 250s, all that.
-Echu, Peter.
-You might have seen him
come through on a four-wheeler
or something three times his size.
-You compete?
-We ride dirt bikes over here.
So, you know? Yeah.
-Take care.
-Like that’s something
that we do over here.
This another one,
I wish that my boy was here.
I coulda called him
and they woulda been cool with it.
-Oh, cute little puppy.
-Yeah, so you see I think
they got their garden.
She got a garden going on right there.
You would be surprised how
we get around and, like, our momentum.
So when I was coming up a lot,
I didn’t eat.
-You didn’t eat?
-I didn’t eat.
I probably eat a meal a day,
and then I probably had sometimes
like when I know I’m probably, like,
eating little snacks and stuff,
and I ain’t had a meal in like two days.
-But if your parents,
your mom’s not making money
then she’ll get food stamps though, right?
-Nah, when I was younger
and I was staying with my mom,
I was eating but, see,
you gotta understand,
I had moved from my mom when I was 15.
-And then we stayed in the one bedroom.
Me, my mom, my three brothers.
And then she had just had my baby brother
around the time when we first moved there.
The house under us in the one bedroom,
we stayed at the top bedroom,
the house under us caught on fire.
-So basically they pretty much told us
that the house was unstable
and we couldn’t stay there
’cause the floor might collapse,
and we had to move.
Like, a long story short,
we went our way
and my brother and them went they way.
Like my ma, she had to
get up in a shelter for a minute
to get her stuff back together.
I just pretty much told her,
’cause I was gonna go with her…
Like, you know?
I’m like, “I will just go to the projects.”
Then I caught a case.
-Caught a case?
-What does that mean?
-I caught a case, like…
Well I didn’t caught a case,
the case caught me.
I was on my way from school one day
and then, like,
you see these cameras up here?
They all got the cameras and all that.
Like, so we walking from school
and then I just noticed, like,
we looked up, like,
the camera was following us.
So, like, the camera following us
and all that.
I do whatever I do, I sit down and then
next thing you know the police come get me.
“Oh, we want to
take you in for questioning.”
and all that.
So then they take me in for questioning,
and then it’s like…
They had me, they take me outside first
and we just sittin’.
They asked me about a robbery,
a chain snatching, and like,
I didn’t snatch no…
I didn’t snatch no chain around that age.
I was doing… I was hustling.
Like I was hustling, like I sold
a little weed or something,
like, to be honest.
Sold a little weed, sold a little dope.
So it’s like they throwing
a robbery charge on me
and it’s like
I’m not taking nothing from nobody
and I chose to hustle
’cause I felt like me hustling
is me not doing harm.
When I come from a life when I know
I could go out here and make all this money
by taking something from somebody.
This probably be what my people’s doing,
or this probably be
what I’m around or whatever.
-So is that attractive to go that route?
To take money from people and…
Is it hard not to do it?
Let me ask you that.
Right now, you and me.
-I’m wherever I am,
I just come back around.
Like, you know, and like…
I got $100,000.
-You had $100,000?
-I got $100,000.
So you tell me.
-How’d you get it?
Like, I got $100,000, like, you know?
-So it’s like…
-So what happened to it?
-Money… A lot of people think
money can change they problems.
Money can’t change your problems.
I’m not speaking on nobody around here,
or nobody else that ever
came across some money but you…
People say,
“Oh, just give me a million dollars.”
But you give them a million dollars,
they end up in more debt.
Because you don’t know
how to make a million dollars.
So how could you
maintain a million dollars?
So when you get the million dollars,
you get to going…
Buying this, buying that,
you don’t know nothing about budget,
financial literacy.
Like, you know, none of that stuff.
So it’s, like, you buying this,
you buying that,
you buying this, you buying that.
Before you looked up, you partying.
You’re giving
all your peoples money, like, you know?
It’s like money grow on trees now
and then by the time you look up,
so you pulling out your last dollars.
-When you have money here
people want a part of it, right?
-And then you gotta understand
it’s the projects.
Like, I used to have a mentality,
I don’t have this mentality no more.
It should be like, “I’mma ball.”
-You’re gonna what?
-I’m gonna ball.
-I’mma ball, I’mma stunt,
I’mma come through big rims.
Like, the paint.
‘Cause when I was coming up and stuff
they used to ride 28’s and all that.
Regals and all this type of stuff,
Grand Prix, all types of sh*t,
and, like, throw crazy rims on ’em
and crazy paint jobs on ’em.
So I was like, you know,
I’mma come through stuntin’.
Like we always said,
we were comfortable with our cars.
We always just wanted our jewelry,
our gold, our clothes and all that,
buy your mama a house, like, you know,
everything we always said
we were gonna do and everything.
-You don’t want that anymore?
-Yes, I still want it, like, okay,
my mom passed.
So I technically can’t
buy her a house and all that
but me saying, like,
“Okay, I want the big car and all this.”
Nah, like, aw man.
I don’t need nothing
but probably like two cars.
So if I got my lady at the house
and she needs to get around,
and I’m driving the car,
f*ck I need 10, 20 cars for, you know?
You gotta understand this,
when you jump up in a car,
that’s your property
but when you driving and all that,
this car is in mo’ danger than you is.
-Like, you get what I’m saying?
It could be somebody not paying attention,
come and smack yo’ car.
So I don’t care too much
to have 20, 30 cars and all that.
Just give me my one car.
Get my Ghost when I get a Ghost.
Rolls Royce, that’s all I really want.
-You just want a Rolls Royce?
-Yeah, that’s the car
that I be like, “Ooh, aah.”
Kids playing with the lights at the top.
So that’s what I see myself in,
I don’t need.
What I need?
‘Cause that’s just another form of greed
and that’s all we used to, like…
I noticed the greed.
So when you see somebody come across
all that money,
they not conscience of the level of greed
that they adapted to.
-You said you’ve learned
some financial literacy.
How’d you do that?
-All right, it was this one book called,
Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
-And he can just broke it down, like,
assets and liabilities to me.
And I was, like, I felt so stupid.
I felt so stupid. [chuckles]
‘Cause it’s like, “How I don’t know this?”.
Like, you get what I’m saying?
And like you said,
okay, you still don’t want them things?
Liability, what do I need 20 cars for?
All right, it might…
A lot of stuff gonna lose the value.
Okay, if I get 20 cars,
then I’m looking like
I’m not even really driving these
and all that.
If it ever get bad, I’m selling these.
So it’s more business-wise
but as far as me having
20 cars to drive and own
I’m not into that.
So it’d just be more liability.
So now I’m more interested in things
that generate money.
-And can generate the money to sell.
-Like what?
-For example,
I’m starting up my clothing line.
Right now I do all the work,
manager, I’m making the product.
I have my own screen printing machine,
cricket maker.
-Your clothing line,
you’re a super talented artist.
You don’t have the one…
-This is one of my hoodies right here.
I made this one with my vinyl
and everything.
So it says,
“Early Birds Gri$$ett.
Nothing comes to a sleeper. Cancel Sleep”
[Peter chuckles]
-There’s all this canceling going on,
you’re saying cancel sleep.
-“Rise and shine, rise and grind.”
-So what you’re not showing is
you’re a very talented artist.
-So the thing is, I’m a self-taught artist
and everything too.
That was the first thing
that I did before music.
-I learned how to draw tracing my cousin’s
Dragon Ball Z sketches and everything.
So that’s why I think
that made me a big fan of Anime too.
But the fact that when
I first learned how to draw, my cousin,
he told me, “Don’t trace my drawing
’cause if you trace the back of it…”
“…they gonna think I traced it
’cause the lines…”
“…you’ll see through
the back of the page.”
-And he was doing
some really artist stuff or whatever.
So I traced it anyways.
He came back,
he looked at the back of it, he was hot.
But I was happy ’cause, like,
the tracing was perfect.
Like, it was spot on, I’m like war.
This one I stayed in, this unit.
-You’ve been in every one
of these buildings, Bwuan?
-Hell yeah,
and I trip off that to this day, man.
Like, I trip off this to this day.
Like from there, to there,
to here, here, there.
-How many places have you lived in?
‘Cause I told you we was homeless
for a minute
when I was young, before we moved
to the one bedroom
and then I ended up homeless again after
the one bedroom.
I didn’t have my own room until I was
old enough to get a place with my mom
and that’s when I was 19.
Was your dad ever around?
-Yeah, my dad came around,
like, around when we stayed right here.
My mom came to me one day, she like,
“Your daddy want to meet you.”
I never forget it,
I was like nine years old.
We go from right here
and we walk up to the shopping center.
We called it the shopping center here.
No, we went to the train station.
So we walked to through the rows of cars,
I’ll never forget it, she like,
“There go your daddy right there.”
I just remember, like,
this big ol’ dude, swol.
And he had on an Adidas sweatsuit,
white and black.
Then I just wanted to go meet him
and everything.
I was just so excited and all that,
like, you know?
So that was when
I really first met my dad and everything.
Then me and my dad’s relationship is,
like, complicated but, like, I know my dad.
Like, you know, I met him
and just as I got older and everything too,
we was able to rekindle that
or whatever, like, you know?
-Do you talk to him now?
-Not at the moment.
Last time I seen my dad
was when my mom passed.
‘Cause it’s a crazy story,
like, my dad wasn’t around for a minute.
Him and my mom wasn’t really
together or nothing like that.
So he ended up being around
for the last days when my mom passed
and he was actually there
when she passed away.
-And, like, that was 2018.
That was the last time I seen my dad,
was that day when my mom passed.
-Sorry, man.
-After that I just ain’t never seen him,
I’m good, like, you know?
But, like, after that night,
never, like, seen him.
But, like, me, I…
See, you gotta realize, like, I was 15
when I moved out with my moms and all that.
Like, you know?
And I stayed with
a lot of different people and all that.
Lot of people…
People still got they own life to attend to
and all that,
and it’s like I still gotta swing.
-Do you have kids?
-I got four kids.
-Four kids?
-Yeah, I got three girls and one boy.
-They all around here or…
-Nah, two of my daughter stay in Vegas
and my son, and my oldest.
My youngest which is my oldest daughter
and my son, they out here, LA.
Growing up here, you didn’t even go
around Compton, you stayed right here?
-If I had a homeboy over there
I had to go pull up and deal with
but my thing was this, as I got older
I never liked to hang
in nobody’s neighborhood.
-‘Cause back in the day
there was more of a stronger
Bloods, Crips thing going on, right?
Or is that still serious now?
-Yeah, no, it depends on the individual
in the hoods and everything.
Like you could have
some Crips beef with some Crips.
You have some Bloods beef with some Bloods.
But a Crip will get along with some Bloods.
-Like, you get what I’m saying?
-I’ve seen that, yeah.
-Not necessarily Blood, Crips.
So what’s going on now to this day is
everybody want to be Bloods
and everybody want to be
Crips around the world.
So they feel like in order to be a Crip
they gotta dis a Blood
or in order to be a Blood
they gotta disrespect Crips or whatever
and, like, where the roots at and all that,
that’s been stopped going on.
How ’bout with the youth?
Is it the same with the youth?
-It’s all the same ’cause you gon’ have
individuals that’s gonna remind you.
“Oh, this person remind me of [inaudible]”
or it might remind me of him.
It’s all a cycle.
-So, like, even with the youngers,
this cycle now, it’s more like
ain’t nobody fighting.
-They’re not fighting?
-Nobody fighting.
-What do you mean?
-They’ll get killed.
Back in the days, you still had
somebody get killed at the bowling alley.
It happened but it wouldn’t happen
how it happen today.
More likely you run into it with
the neighborhood you don’t get along with
and your neighborhood,
and y’all at the bowling alley.
Coming back talking ’bout,
“Man, I’ll knock him out.”
and then I swung, the other person, man,
somebody hit me in the back of my head.
That’s the story
but now when you come back it’s like,
“Oh, we seen them.” [mumbles]
They just start shootin’.
-Okay, so you don’t…
Like, if you start fighting now,
there’s a good chance
there are guns coming out
and there’s shootings going on?
-You don’t know
if that’s what the other person on.
-So that means less fights?
-You think… Like, yeah.
-Do you guys have black mat here?
-What’s that?
Black mat, they have
in another project I’ve been to.
They have, like, a mat
and they fight it out.
If there’s any beef they just
fight it out on black mat.
-We ain’t got that type of structure.
My project, it’s more off of, like,
Respect, it ain’t really like no leader
but it would be a mutual respect
to the point that that won’t happen
but it still could go that far.
-Yeah, how does it work
with leadership here, the hierarchy?
There’s none of it?
-Too many chiefs, not enough…
Now what they say?
Too many chiefs, not enough soldiers?
-How you doing, sir? Hello.
[greetings and chatter]
MAN: The cover, baby.
PETER: Yeah, he is.
MAN: The new beginning.
PETER: Have you seen his art?
-It’s pretty cool.
Take care of me, I’m his homeboy.
-Uh-huh, that’s my OG right there.
We got… Everything he do…
PETER: Do you remember
when he was a kid coming up around here?
-What? This old.
-Little guy in diapers.
-This old, this old.
I just look like this, man.
I’m way older than that dude.
You hear me?
-Yeah, you guys age pretty good.
I met a 47 year old
that looked like he was 20 over there.
BWUAN: This another rapper right here.
PETER: No way. How you doing?
-Cool K, brother.
-Cool K, nice to meet you.
-Yeah, nice to meet you, brother.
PETER: See you, guys.
MAN: What y’all doing?
‘Cause you got
the two you need right there.
PETER: Okay, these are the guys?
-I’d love to sit down with you
and chop it up
’cause I’m a different generation.
-Yeah, he older than me so…
PETER: You’re like my age, right?
How old are you?
-I done seen…
You know what I mean,
I’m old enough to have kids.
I done seen my big homies…
‘Cause I was off the porch,
just a little dude.
I done seen my big homies,
guys my age, and my little brother.
So I’m in the middle.
PETER: You’re rapping though?
-Yeah, I rap.
I do music, I’m a creator, video director,
I do everything to help my hood.
-Do you live here now?
-Yeah, I’m here.
I’m always here.
-But do you live here or you live off?
-I’m always here.
Once home is home, brother.
-See that’s what I was telling you,
even if he have a time
where he don’t technically stay over here,
we still here.
-We still here.
-We come around.
-Okay, okay, yeah.
-People who stay and come around here…
…don’t live here.
You get what I say?
-Like he grew up here though.
-That’s what I’m learning
-You want to spend all your time here
with your buddies and…
-Family, it’s family.
-It ain’t about the time,
a community is a community, bro.
Like, we’re a tribe.
So it’s no way you can
leave your tribe like that, bro.
It ain’t nothing like these projects, bro.
All through Watts,
I’m speaking for every project on Watts.
You don’t have that same culture.
-You can’t make new old friends, right?
No, either you’re a friend of ours
or a friend of mines,
which one you rather be?
-A friend of ours or a friend of mine?
Ours, right?
-Yes, so you’re a friend of the community,
you’re always safe.
You’re a friend of mine,
there’s only certain things you can do.
-So a lot of respect,
a lot of order here with that?
Or is there, like,
always people trying to poke up,
and be stronger, and that sort of thing?
-Like I said, “Any sign of weakness…”,
It’s a jungle.
So you gonna have some people
poke up and be strong but…
-Every tribe got leaders.
-Every tribe got leaders, bro.
-And what happen at that tribe?
-You might have somebody else feel like
they strong enough to lead the tribe.
-If it’s time for me to step down, bro,
my young guy got it.
‘Cause he did been through everything.
He did witness everything,
He did seen.
So he can take my place.
It’s no jealousy, it’s no envy in here.
-We don’t follow one,
we pass it as a generation.
It go as a generation.
Like, we know it’s a young dude’s world.
It’s a youngin’s world.
So the ones we pass by that didn’t…
-We from a neighborhood, bro.
We want to see each other have.
We want to see you have.
It ain’t never no envy with that.
-It’s no envy.
It’s nobody want to pull you down, bro.
We been pulled down too much.
Watts is a city
but we under the jurisdiction of LA.
We don’t have our own mayor.
Watts get funding,
but don’t none of the money…
All our money go to these police
for them to harass us, bro.
-You gotta be sharp up here, bro.
We know what this jungle
gonna bring us, bro.
-So you want to have nothing to do with LA?
-Man, we is Watts.
We our own city.
-‘Member I told ya?
-You can step across the track to Compton.
Compton got they own mayor.
You can step this way to Lynwood,
the got they own mayor.
You can go back this way to Inglewood,
they got they own mayor
and Watts in the smack in the middle
and we don’t got ours?
C’mon, bro.
They stripped us from the ’65 riots.
They stripped us, bro.
They stripped us from our rights, dog.
-So LA controls things here?
-LA controls sh*t here.
-And no one’s down with that?
I’m not ’cause I’m old enough
to realize what’s going on.
-I’mma turn down here because if we
go down there it’s enemies and all that.
-With you, they’ll see your car or what?
-No, they don’t know my car.
That’s the thing.
They might see us recording and then
they look in the car a little bit more
and, you know?
-So beef between the neighborhoods?
I usually… I can drive down that street
certain times though, so…
-But that’s how it works down here for you,
there’s certain streets you don’t wanna go?
-This the way I used to walk right here.
-To get to middle school.
So you see the other side
of that track, right?
-This why we start carrying…
This why I start carrying a gun.
I’m not gonna speak for nobody else.
‘Cause when I was up in middle school
and all of that
started seeing, okay, we was right here,
and remember I told told you
okay, we wanna fight.
We was still fighting a little bit
in middle school
but some of them people
start pulling out they guns.
It was older dudes to the point where
every time we walked right here…
‘Cause we gotta walk
through all our enemies.
The enemies pulling out guns on us.
We fighting,
it’s a whole bunch of stuff going on.
-So from your…
-We started walking
on the other side of the tracks.
-Okay, just to get this straight.
So from your school
to where your projects are,
you’d have to go through this neighborhood
which had beef with you
and you were worried about getting shot.
-So that’s why we had
the mentality that we had and all that.
Just imagine that you gotta walk
through somebody neighborhood
that you don’t get along with
and y’all beef with.
And it’s like, okay, we have
about two of ’em we gotta get through
because this are right here is where, like,
one of the neighborhoods
really leak out to…
And just even being in this are here,
it’s mutual, like, right here.
We can hop out real quick
but we gonna have to be quick.
-We gotta be quick?
-‘Cause you’re not welcome here?
-Pretty much.
I ain’t gonna say I’m not welcome
’cause like I said, this a mutual ground
but this whole side right here
is the other side.
And so basically or technically…
…I shouldn’t be getting over here
having an event over here but you know?
-So what is this?
This is the Watts towers right here.
So when you say Watts and all that
and like that,
this is the historical structure.
This been here for years.
-So what is it though, it’s just art?
-Mm-hmm, pretty much.
-That’s cool.
All right, I don’t want to
hold you here if you…
-I learned how to be here.
Like it’s not…
Gotta understand, I went to a whole school
full of my enemies before by myself.
You been in certain type of areas
they don’t really affect me
and just because I’m over here, like,
I actually get a lot of respect
from a lot of dudes.
I had an incident on this side before.
-What neighborhood is this?
-Right now we’re around the Grape streets.
-What street?
-We’re around Grape street.
PETER: I messed that up in the beginning
of the video, I said you were in Compton
but it’s Watts,
but that’s right on the border of Compton.
-And you’re saying what?
The sheriffs won’t come there or what?
My projects is right across the street
from the police station.
-But when it’s a shooting
the sheriffs don’t come there
’cause it’s not they jurisdiction.
Like, you got my projects…
That’s why you said, like,
“I’m familiar with Compton
’cause it’s right there.”
But anyways, yeah,
the sheriffs wouldn’t come right there
’cause it’s past they jurisdiction.
They have to wait for LAPD to come.
Whenever you cross into Compton
the sheriffs do not play.
PETER: This is your middle school?
-Yeah, this Markham Middle School.
Look, when I was in the seventh grade
I think this is why I got a lot of kids.
They gave me one of them fake babys.
I was a baby.
I was in seventh grade.
My science class was right here.
They gave it to me.
One, two, three, four.
Right there.
And then that…
-That was your science class?
Right there, C?
-Yep, C.
I had a lot of science classes right here
’cause in sixth grade
I had a science class right here
at the beginner.
-Then I had another science class
right over here
and then I got into it with
one of my boys trying to join down.
When did this go up?
-This always been here.
This the gate to keep the school…
You know, keep them in there and all that.
All of our schools is gated up.
-Keep people out?
-I mean, yeah.
Keep the school as, like, one, you know?
To cut it from the public.
-Is it because people
want to get out of the school
or people are trying to get in the school?
Like what way?
What’s the gate doing?
-We was hoppin’ this gate and leaving.
-To get out?
-And we was coming late
and hopping in here to go…
So if they didn’t have these gates
we would have just walked right out.
-Walked right out of school?
-Can we walk this way?
-Uh, yeah.
What good I’d be if I can’t
walk you out around my city, right?
So the problem was
you’d get out of school here,
your neighborhood’s a ways over there.
You had to walk through the hood
that didn’t get along with you.
-Had to walk through the ten lines.
And then once we’d make it
through the ten lines,
you get, like,
the beginning of the Grape Streets.
They back streets and all that right here.
So it was like…
We was fighting them.
When we got past
the ten lines and all that
they was pulling out guns
and all that stuff.
So, like, we had to start
really thinking different and all that.
So now you 11, 12 years old.
Gotta worry about somebody
pulling a gun out on you every day.
And then when we catch the dash,
it’s a dash that we caught.
It’s a bus that we catch by our project
and it bring you
all the way around to 103rd right here.
That’s the one that go through
the Grape Street, the back street.
When did you get your first gun?
How old were you?
-When I got my first gun, like mine,
I was like…
15, 16.
Trying to see if
I wanna leave my sh*t there.
-Yeah, we can go back if you don’t want to.
-There was a side show here.
-Yep, they tear it up.
Eight grade year I got my first gun.
We got a saying that they say, like,
“Rather get caught with it
than without it.”
-That being a gun?
Like, you’d rather the police catch you
with a gun than your enemies
or just any somebody else running around
with a gun
’cause you don’t have to be nobody enemy.
All types of sh*t happen.
Or then for somebody else
to catch you out here without no gun.
So that be our saying, “Rather get
caught with it than without it.”
You gotta walk right here and you
already got dudes pointing guns at you.
You got older dudes,
everybody pointing a gun at you
and you don’t got no gun.
Ain’t no calling no police.
No calling no police.
-They don’t want to come and deal with it?
-Nah, it’s so much bad relationship
between these communities and the police
that you can’t come back
to these communities
or even be seen around these types
of communities talking to the police.
Not gonna deal with nobody
that’s talking to the police.
Police did a lot… Do a lot.
-And with the guns, it hasn’t changed
from when you were a kid?
It’s the same situation or…
-To me, it’s the same old cycle, man.
It goes like, um… Like a market stock.
-It just…
-Up, down, up, down, up, down.
-Oh, like a stock market, yeah, yeah.
Are most people I’m seeing on the streets,
are they packing or no?
-You never know.
-You never know?
-You never know.
Like I said, this is a city
where gun violence is heavy.
-So what do you think about guns then?
That’s a big question
but what are your thoughts?
-My opinion, you gotta survive
how you gotta survive.
That’s just my opinion,
I don’t really want to… You know?
-‘Cause everybody’s situation
is kinda different.
Some people can technically get around
and probably ain’t gotta carry a gun.
And ain’t gotta do too much
or nothing but…
Man… F*ck it.
I’mma keep it 100,
’cause I’m trying to beat around the bush
and I can’t , like, hell yeah.
Like, I feel like around here,
yes, you have to have a gun
because guns don’t kill people.
People with guns kill people.
If you out here…
Like I ain’t saying you the person
that’s out here..
Oh, have a gun and go shoot this person
and go do this but hell yeah.
Yes, have a gun because it’s too much,
it’s wicked.
Like, it’s wicked.
Like I said, somebody yell something
out to me, I turnt around and got shot.
So that’s gonna always be my answer.
Keep a gun but even up in that situation
if I had a gun…
I still…
Like, you know, it still could happen.
-Is it all men or do women ever?
Are they ever firing on each other?
-Man, these females will go get down.
It ain’t just n*ggas,
there’s some females that go get down.
They go get with your program.
-And then you got…
When it’s a female, they got this.
They got that mouth.
They got that mouth, and they fight,
and all that too.
The females will fight
more than the n*ggas.
-C’mon, really?
-Man, you got the females
that get on the social media.
They argue with each other
and they pull up.
-Yeah, but they’re Facebook tough, right?
-Yeah, because you gotta understand
that it’s not the same threat
for a woman like that.
Even though they still could be dangerous,
it’s not the same threat as a woman.
A woman could go inside they enemy’s hood
and deal with a dude from that hood.
You get what I’m saying?
-Okay, yeah.
Or even maybe walk around
’cause some females is just women,
and a lot of women
really don’t do this gang banger stuff
but when you do got a woman
that do do this gang banger stuff
that’s what they do.
♪ hip hop ♪
PETER: My boy over here said you got drip.
He says you got drip
BWUAN: I appreciate it, bro.
I appreciate it.
PETER: So Bwuan, you’re converting me.
Is that what’s going on?
-Uh, yeah.
-So you never heard of the Scientology?
-I’ve heard.
You’re not Scientologist are you?
-No, I’m not religious.
But you brought me here, I like it.
So you live somewhere around here?
-Uh-huh, I stay
on the other side of Hollywood.
I thought she was coming towards us,
don’t record.
-Oh, we’re on a public street, we’re fine.
PETER: How you doing?
MAN: How you doing today?
-What’s going on here?
-Private event.
-Okay, are we invited?
-That’s a no, but I like it,
you’re a nice guy.
PETER: So why’d you move up here, man?
BWUAN: I feel like to help me
better assist my mindset.
Like with me changing my program
and reprogramming the way I think
and everything.
There’s more people that’s working.
It’s more a positive energy
for, like, business.
-Right, right.
-Resources and everything like that,
you know?
-And then, like, I do the music,
the clothing, and everything.
So Hollywood is like a big area where
a lot of people come to and everything.
So by me being able to stay out here…
If I might want to connect
with somebody or whatever
it’s more easier, like, you know?
-So you’ve made a decision.
Like, you want to go up
to the next level of life
and you need to change environment?
-Pretty much.
I always knew I needed to get towards
somewhere, like, around this way.
It ain’t, like, you know?
It’s more opportunity this way
and walking up and down these streets,
like, you know, you can’t really too much
do that up in Watts.
-What’s that, walk up and down the streets?
-Yeah, like walk up and down the street.
Like, I’m around Hollywood,
I probably don’t wanna walk up the street
and go get me something
from the store or whatever
but I can’t, that’s not available.
Due to the neighborhoods and everything.
-You can’t walk this street ’cause it might
be that neighborhood or that street,
and just me, being who I am, alone…
A lot of people know my face
and I don’t be knowing who people are.
So I try to stay out the way
because I be having a lot of people come.
Even from your videos.
I have people just pull up on me.
One guy, I was loading my car,
he just, “Hey, hey, that’s you?”.
So I’m like… You know?
I’m looking like, man,
I’m right here, I can’t do nothing.
If he wanna…
‘Cause that’s the mentality
that I have from growing up over there.
Like, I’m just instantly thinking
he gonna try to shoot me or something.
Like, he like,
“Oh no, I seen you on the video.”
“Keep doing what you doing.”
-I love the music.
-That’s interesting.
“Everything I’ve been seeing,
keep it going.”
-So do you feel like you don’t have to
watch your back as much here?
-No, I wouldn’t say that.
I just feel like my neighborhood I’m really
more mostly known around that part
for, like, you know, like,
the gangs, all that type of stuff.
It’s what we really known so…
-Around here…
It’s limit the risk.
I just basically see…
That’s what I say.
I limit the risk here.
I won’t say that I don’t have to
look over my shoulder less or whatever
or anything because that’s not too far
from the city
and people come around and be around still.
-All right, Bwuan.
Thanks for bringing us in.
-All right, nice meeting you guys, man.
-Appreciate it, man.
-Until next time, it’s always good, Pete.
It’s always good.
-And your Instagram link down below.
All your merch
which unfortunately we don’t…
We have this sweatshirt
but you also have really cool…
-Yeah, and we forgot to show the hoodies
and everything I have in the car.
-I’ll leave a screenshot
of what Bwuan’s art looks like.
Which is very cool.
Music also but the art is
your number one right now, right?
-Nah, music is the number one.
-Okay, okay.
-Music is the number one right now.
-Music links, merch links.
-Music is the number one, yeah.
-Okay, all that down below.
Thanks for bringing us
into your world, man.
-Anytime, always.
-You didn’t have to do that.
But you did and we all learned from you.
-Appreciate it.
-So thank you.
-Yes, yes, until next time.
-All right, guys, until the next one.
♪ dark hip hop ♪

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