Albany murder suspects rapped about the thug life

“Got these bitches sucking on me ’til their motherfucking jaws sore.”

And so goes one of the more forceful lyrics in a four-minute rap track recorded by King James Modest and Ricardo Caldwell 17 and 18 respectively and both under arrest for the murder of Richard Bailey, a 20-year-old senior at the University at Albany last October.

Aspiring rappers, Modest and Caldwell are now in the confines of the Albany County Correctional Facility. The alleged triggerman, De Von Callicutt was received at the Coxsackie state prison facility in March on an unrelated charge.

Albany is not a particularly violent city, nor does it have the reputation for crime the way that other Upstate cities such as Buffalo and Rochester have. Still, a three-week period here included several murders – all involving guns –  an accidental shooting death and a random non-lethal attack on a bicyclist during broad daylight. Most of these incidents have occurred in the rougher sections of Albany, though Bailey’s murder took place in the heart of a neighborhood inhabited by college students.

Nearly a year since the night the Long Island native was shot in the head while returning from watching Monday Night Football at a friend’s apartment, many people in the city wondered if there would be any breaks in the crime.

My inclination was that someone would get arrested for doing something stupid. Looking for a deal, he or she may offer up information about the individuals involved in Bailey’s killing. That’s normally how these things happen, I think. So far, the police aren’t saying too much about how they got the three suspects, except that before he was sent to prison Callicutt had revealed his role in the shooting, ostensibly to someone who said something to the cops.

I suppose that it’s rough to say that any one person is destined for a life of crime, but listening to the lyrics in Modest and Caldwell’s low-quality recording, “Uptowns Bubblegum”, it’s clear that these two at least emulated the gangsta culture that has landed and many young men, and perhaps themselves if they are convicted, in prison.

Certainly, they’ll have an opportunity to argue their innocence and if they choose a jury or bench trial. It’s unlikely that Uptowns Bubblegum will make it into any trial, but it seems relevant in this respect: whether they are guilty or innocent Modest and Caldwell have a pretty dim view on the world around them; one the requires the use of force and violence to achieve riches and notoriety. It’s a huge part of the hip-hop culture, packaged and sold to disaffected young men in broken down cities throughout our country.

Out in the world right now, there are probably a half-million young men who want to be rappers, who have recorded their own demos or made cheap slide show youtube videos. Many of their songs are peppered with references to shooting snitches, driving fast cars, wearing expensive threads and sexual exploits with women. The life of a thug is a thing to be admired and exalted. With it, the idea of extinguishing someone’s life over some material item or amount of cash is par for the course. Many rap song attest to this. It really is very sad.

If the Albany police got these three guys I sure as hell hope they’re the right ones. Nobody wants to think of the wrong people getting in trouble while a killer or killers go free. I guess it will be interesting to see how this whole affair plays out. If Modest, who once impressed Albany mayoral candidate Corey Ellis as a kid escaping the troubled streets of Arbor Hill, is convicted for his alleged role, it will be decades before he steps out of custody – at least 25 years. The world will have changed a lot by then. I wonder if he and Caldwell, who comes from nearby Schenectady, will ever look back on the track they recorded and see it for what reasonable folks see it for, which is poor attempt distinguish themselves the easy way.


Something irritating that I kinda enjoyed

Yesterday was one of the few really spotless days we’ve had here in Albany since the summer season began. It was a great time to get out for a run, garden, cookout and clean you car out, which is what my downstairs neighbor and his girlfriend died with their Lexus. I know how boring it can be to clean a car without some tunes, so I can releate with my neighbor for playing some music while he cleaned – quite impressively – the car from inside and out (I could take some tips from him). To keep himself occupied and productive my neighbor played some rap. He was generous with it though. We all got to hear it. We not only got to hear it but feel it for two hours, in fact. My internal organs vibrated with all the “niggahs” and  “‘muthafuckas” from the songs that were kicking out of that system.

At one point however, he had some competetion from  the as an annoying a presence in this neighborhood, the ice cream man, who also idles his vehicle for hours on end at times to lure out the kids with the money from their kids.

I was cleaning my own apartment at the time and figured I’d grab my camera and point it at the bizarre juxtaposition outdoors.

“Don’t move! Get yo ass inside, right now!”

There’s a house on my block that likes to party each and every night. The weeks are when the loudest things are going on in particular. Back in May they chained their grill to a small tree and since then it’s been burgers and steaks and malt liquor at least four nights a week. Tonight they’re kicking it hard. You could be two blocks away I suppose and hear their most intimate conversations. If that’s what you want to call them, conversations. It’s really more like unnecessary shouting to no end.

I personally can tune it out because it’s two houses down, but I pity the people who are in closer proximity, like a woman who I speak to ocassionally in passing. She and her husband and their teenage son live right across the street. She’s asked them nicely to turn their beats down, but you know you can’t kill the music. To call them oblivious is an understatement. They have no fucking clue. Proof of this is what’s going on right now.

It’s nearly midnight and there’s close to ten small children playing in the street – the dark street. Every so often one of the adults shouts from the porch for them to be careful. Not so much a go to bed as a “hey, watch yo fuckin’ sister. There’s cars driving by, don’t you see?!” I’m not a parent and not sure if I’ll ever be or if I’d be a decent on for that matter. One thing I do know is that you don’t let your kids pla y in t he street unsupervised during the day, much less the nightime.

The beats are kicking right now and some poor kid has been reprimanded inside the house. Theirs lots of cursing going on and clearly some people smoking weed and drinking 40 ounce bottles of beer in front of the kids. A car came down the road and apparently one of the kids was too close to it. After it passed, one of the guys on the porch screamed, “Don’t move! Get yo ass inside, right now!” The sounds of kids can be heard through the beats and the hollering of adults.

I keep wondering how this will affect these poor kids – that’s if none of them are hurt out there playing in the dark. I don’t know what’s worse, the lack of supervision and the blantant neglect or the complete disregard for the surrounding neighbors who may not want to hear Jadakiss blasted from someone’s car at 2 a.m.

The fourth summer on my block (an intro to my blog)

This morning I woke up to the booming bark of my downstairs neighbors’ dog Smooches. She was by herself in the dirt patch yard behind our house. Never mind that Smooches has been adjudicated a dangerous dog by the City of Albany’s animal control department for several misunderstandings with other dogs – including mine – and people – including me – and is technically not supposed to be off of a leash or unsupervised anywhere. Out she was in the backyard having a go with her lungs, screaming to be let back into the dirt nasty apartment below us. Her owner, a scrawny woman that looks and talks like a recovering crackhead, punctuated the barking fit occasionally by screaming to the dog off of the back porch.

“Smooches, shut-cho fuckin’ mouth, girl.”

Smooches kept at it. Apparently, they don’t speak the same language. I’m not sure if Smooches’ barking fits are a daily occurrence or not. I just moved to the back of our three-room apartment over the weekend. I decided I needed a change of scenery and although my old room is the same size, I wanted to be somewhere different. For three years I’ve lived in this second floor apartment, located on a brick-paved street in a western section of Albany. Three years in the same tiny room. The walls, which I painted burgundy, made the room feel even smaller than it already is, so I decided I had to relocate fifteen feet away to this new room, which is off of our kitchen kitchen. I now have access to our rear porch, which up until last Friday served as a dump for old electronics that we couldn’t dispose of and an old roommate’s odds and ends.

Dog that could play Smooches in a TV movie

Dog that could play Smooches in a TV movie

Right now I don’t have the money to move to a new apartment. I’d love to but there’s one hindrance that’s even greater than the cash flow and that is Marcus, my eight-year-old Pitbull. Most landlords – at least the responsible ones – bar pitbulls from their property. I say this even though I own one. I understand the misconceptions about the breed and the bad press they get. Nevertheless, after having lived for quite some time in various lower income neighborhoods where pitbulls are the most common animal, I know well the damage these dogs can do.

There’s two types of pitbull owners and I’m not sure where I fit in. I could be among the responsible ones because my dog’s had his shots and is registered with the state’s agriculture and markets agency. I could also be called a bad one because my dog has never been to an obedience class in his life, has poor manners and doesn’t get along with other dogs. That said, I also keep Marcus on the leash and know his limitations and his tendencies. If left to his own devices, the sweet dog I found shivering on a street corner in Brooklyn can do some damage to an unwitting dog. Perhaps I straddle both categories of pitbull owner. The good and the bad together. I pass. Continue reading