To know our movement influenced the next generation of our family to carry the torch, filled both of us with pride and joy.
Shakeil “Shak”, 42
Incarcerated: 15 years
Housed: New Jersey State Prison, Trenton
I come from a tight knit family and grew up under the mantra Family 1st, which meant you were to put the family before any and everything else. So in my mid-twenties, when I decided to take rap seriously, I linked up with my cousin Realz to make it a family affair. Our chemistry was a natural, seamless fit. We performed at numerous night clubs and local bars exhibiting our showmanship. We’re both genetically gifted and musically inclined, but still took the time to develop and polish our talent. Together we formed the rap duo, “Blood Cuzinz” and our first mixtape together was titled, Family 1st. In June 2008, we released our debut album Blood Thicker than Water. Shortly after the release of the album, I was charged and arrested for murder. My involvement in this situation disappointed the family for multiple reasons. Our supporters exhausted their blood, sweat, and tears to secure our success and my poor decision making spoiled their efforts. I shattered my cousin’s hopes and dreams of becoming a chart topping rap artist. Recently, I spoke to him and he was delighted to tell me his son, Big Kannonz and my son Sha Bandzz were recording music together. They released a song titled My Sons and referenced the Blood Cuzinz lineage that inspired them to be rap artists. To know our movement influenced the next generation of our family to carry the torch, filled both of us with pride and joy. Everything we contributed to the movement was not for naught.