After 25-year-old Ayoola Matthew Odumuyiwa was found shot to death in an apartment near Castlemont High School on May 30, the Oakland Tribune ran a story with the headline "Aspiring rapper slain in East Oakland." But Odumuyiwa wasn't just aspiring. Calling himself Pretty Black, the Chicago native and San Leandro resident cofounded the Money Over Everything entertainment company in 2003 and recorded many songs, including the eerily prescient, gritty/melodic "Heaven for Gs." "G" stands for gangsta:
Is there a heaven for me?
Is there a heaven just for Gs? ...
I see angels, nigga, Jesus walkin' with me. ...
People say: Pretty ... a lotta niggas hatin' on you,
They gonna get you.
Other Pretty Black numbers laud coke and Glocks: Thirty grand I invested in clips, he raps, and I should be doin' life. Smiling playfully in the picture on his MySpace page, which bears the slogan"Nigga I Talk Money and Shit Diamonds" and was last logged into the day before his death, the full-cheeked singer sports a huge dragon pendant, signifying membership in the Regime Dragon Gang group founded by Oakland rapper Yukmouth — who tells interviewers that the word "Regime" first appealed to him in "old Hitler movies." Within hours of the murder, the web buzzed with blog postings, from "RIP to our homie pretty black!! ... U Was A Cool Ass Nigga" to "Black was a hard ass rapper. Some pussy ass faggots shot him and ran" to "He was nice."
A comment posted on several of Pretty Black's YouTube videos, on the day he died, is chilling: "Pretty Black robbed the wrong people in East Oakland and didn't know who he got we got something for u and your not going any where ... next time you should of killed us there is not next time his [career] as a wanna b artist is not long ... u know who we are Ugly Black we are BTMG (BOUT THAT MONEY GANGSTAS) ... ALLAH AKBAR WE WILL C U ANYWHERE." Chilling too are the final words of "Heaven for Gs": Lord, forgive me, for I have sinned — and if these pussies play with me I'll do it again.
So Damn Hard
During his speech launching the May 31 Community Summit at Laney College — a semiannual Oakland confab aimed at curbing crime — Mayor Ron Dellums told the cheering crowd: "Every city in America will awaken one day and they will be Oakland." He meant re diversity, not re their carjacking rates. He said we'd be happier and safer if we'd "step out of our racial, cultural, and ethnic Bantus and become one." Um ... Bantus are people. And languages. Did the old socialist mean Bantustans? Calling his job "so damn hard," he denounced "the pettiness that I deal with every day." In one of many workshops, ex-gang member Fernando Cruz said that East Bay gangs evolve "every month, every week, like technology" and now eagerly recruit seven-year-olds. His PowerPoint presentation included the K-Swiss sportswear logo: Among Norteños, Cruz said, it's an acronym for "Kill a Sureño When I See a Sureño."
Scams, Scams, Bacon and Scams
In Berkeley, kids go door-to-door claiming to be Berkeley High School students raising cash for BHS athletes to visit Maui. "It's fraudulent," says BPD Officer Andrew Frankel. An Oaklander tells her neighborhood-watch group that several teens have approached her claiming to be "raising high school scholarship money in conjunction with the NAACP." Scholarships? At a free public school? Another Oaklander reports a similar "scholarship" scam involving Skyline High; the scammers showed laminated cards and offered (fake) phone references. Also fraudulent; Oakland high-school students are not authorized to solicit door-to-door. "One thing I found really absurd," the first Oaklander writes, "was the fact that one of these young men was wearing a sweatshirt embroidered with huge letters that said 'GET MONEY.'"
Someone listening to an iPod Nano while strolling down Alcatraz Avenue near Adeline Street in Berkeley around 9 p.m. on June 2 was jumped and beaten by a crowd of some twenty juveniles bent on robbery, according to Frankel: "It was a crime of opportunity and a particularly large group. ... Generally, we'll see four or five." On night walks, iPods are inadvisable: "The first thing you can do to protect yourself is be totally aware of your surroundings." The victim escaped after tossing the pink-cased Nano into the crowd of underage thieves. Did they cut it up into twenty pieces and share?
According to the daily log, Albany cops were summoned on May 31 by a resident reporting "three juveniles possibly making cocktails." The next day, a Martinez resident contacted cops to complain, according to the log, about "'LET IT BE' and peace sign painted on sidewalk and fence."
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