CIVIL WRITES: Pen Pal Paradox

I lost a lot of money in the last year. Many of y’all can relate. Lay-offs, work shortages and budget slashes hemorrhaged savings accounts. 401Ks were cashed out. Bankruptcy filed. Peter got stuck up to pay Paul.  In true American fashion we too often found ourselves in the red––in debt. Yet there’s a polar difference between my money loss gripe and that of the economic victim: I’m not a victim. The aforementioned aren’t what I’d consider “losing” money. Instead simply surviving in a recession. The money I “lost” was actually at the hands of loved ones who treat jail like a revolving door.

These days my frustration, equally shared between them and myself, is peeking. I’m aware that the system is designed to entrap African-American men. More aware that most convicted African-Americans will be socially and professionally ostracized for the remainder of their lives. But I am aware. Friend and fam, why the fuck aren’t you? Or are you and simply choose to loiter in ignorance’s bliss?

You’re one of my closest relatives, one of my oldest friends; and you’re not only forcing me to witness you killing yourself (dreams, relationships etc) but you’re burdening me. Weakening me even because your cyclical self-deprecating behavior distracts my daily m.o: improve the world first, make a million dollars second. You’re interrupting history, playboy. Despite my benevolence, you’re not welcome on my to-do list. I could be paying an intern or that witch Sallie Mae instead of dropping a thousand on bail or $40 per week on your books.

I also don’t appreciate you giving your street affiliates my cell number. It’s challenging enough to remain a legit black man. I need another street homie like my arteries need a fried Twinkie. By the way I may hate your baby mamma. She’s either begging for shit or bitchin’ that you ain’t shit. I literally don’t have time for this.

My main issue is that it’s all unnecessary. I know your father was a terrible dad but it wasn’t like your mother wasn’t present. Yes, she could’ve done better but now I need you to. If you were stupid I’d accept this. But I know your mind. You’re far from dumb. Even when we both were teens doing dumb shit it was done pretty smart. Dirty urine to your parole officer, though, is dumb. Getting locked on the same charge you beat last year is dumb. Rotting in a penitentiary for a couple years then coming out without a committed plan or coppin’ work in the same area you have open cases is incest retarded.

I’m sure suburbia has a cloud of judgment hung over me right now (whatever). I wrestle with whether I’m enabling or riding true; whether I’m stupidly nursing their stupidity. But I know where my actions are rooted: majority love, minority guilt. See I don’t visit people in prison as a rule, so I overcompensate for my absence. Contributing to my guilt is the fact that many of my friends and fam look to me as a success (Ask me and I’ll tell you I haven’t done anything or just begun––depends on the day). Thus like the absence compensation I’ve birthed obligatory responsibility to loved ones who weren’t as fortunate to know what they wanted early in life. So whether guidance, an ear, a good time, cash, I give it if I have.

Albeit, though I stand for loyalty I march strong for progression. You can’t move forward in a cage, fam. You can’t progress on a hamster wheel, friend. Not only are y’all moving nowhere rapidly, the round and round is slowing me down. Ain’t nothing about this 360 that’s merry. So this is the last stop. I’ll have those sweat suits for you next week. 


Bonsu Thompson has accomplished more in his career than most journalists dream of. The Rolling Stone 2001 “Hot Interviewer” has penned for mags like Details, XXL, Penthouse, SLAM and KING as well as notable brands such as MTV, VH1, Rocawear and Translation.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Rapper Bobby Shmurda poses backstage at Power 105.1's Powerhouse 2014 at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on October 30, 2014 in New York City.
Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Power 105.1

Bobby Shmurda Returns Home After Serving 6 Years In Prison

After serving 6 years, Bobby Shmurda is finally out. The rapper, born Ackquille Pollard, was granted a conditional release from the New York state prison, Clinton Correctional Facility, on Tuesday morning (Feb. 23) and will serve the remainder of his 7-year sentence on parole. According to reports, Shmurda “will be under community supervision in Kings County until he completes his sentence on February 23, 2026.”

In true celebrity fashion, Shmurda was brought home in a private jet this morning. Earlier this week, Migos' Quavo told Billboard that he would do the honor of picking him up upon Bobby's release. "I'm going to get my guy. I'm personally gonna go pick up Bobby Shmurda. I'm bout to go get him. I'm gonna let him show you how I'm gonna pick him up, yessir. It's gonna be big."

And that he did.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by QuavoHuncho (@quavohuncho)

In December 2014, Shmurda was arrested at New York City's Quad Studios and was charged with conspiracy to murder, criminal possession of a weapon, criminally using drug paraphernalia, and reckless endangerment follow a two-year probe by the New York Police Department. In 2016, the former Epic Records signee and his childhood friend Rowdy Rebel accepted a plea deal and were sentenced to 7 years in prison.

“They kind of did it dirty at the end of the day,” Bobby explained in a phone interview with VIBE back in 2016. “They had offered me five (years) but then they said if I take the seven, then I’ll be taking it so that they could give Rowdy seven because they were going to offer him 12. I didn’t want my bro to do 12 years because at the end of the day, we didn’t really do nothing, but they playing dirty. So I’m going to take one for the bro.”

Now that Bobby is out, he'll be spending time with family and friends and getting his head back into creating new music. Watch his FaceTime call with his mother, Leslie, down below.

Welcome back, Bobby.

Bobby Shmurda on facetime with his mom after being released from prison

— Bobby Shmurda Updates (@bodboybobby) February 23, 2021

Continue Reading
Fred The Godson attends the Rhymes Over Beats Hip Hop Launch at The Griffin on March 31, 2014 in New York City.
Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Fat Joe, Jim Jones and Bronx Community Celebrate Fred The Godson's Street Naming On His Birthday

Today (Feb. 22), the great MC, Fred The Godson, was honored posthumously with a street naming by his Bronx community and hip-hop industry comrades. Among the dozens of those that showed love to the rapper that passed away in April 2020 due to COVID-19 were BX native Fat Joe and Harlem repper Jim Jones. The street's South Bronx location of Leggett avenue and Kelly street will now also be called Fredrick "Fred The Godson" Thomas Way.

While snow fell heavily, the crowd of supporters and the organizers stood strong and watched as the sign was unveiled to cheers of joy. The Fred The Godson Foundation worked hard to make this day happen on what would have been Fred's 36th birthday. "Shortly after Fred’s passing, the Fred The Godson Foundation was created to carry on his legacy for his children and family, and the commitment to his dreams for the Bronx," says the foundation's mission statement. "The mission is to inspire, empower and nourish individuals, children and families in underserved communities, starting with Fred’s birthplace. The foundation will foster community unity through the common pursuit of wellness, prosperity, and opportunity."


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by FAT JOE (@fatjoe)

Known for having one of the most celebrated flows that included a barrage of double entendres and metaphors that were rarely matched, Fred was a respected MC with enormous skills that were able to get him featured on the famed 2011 XXL 'Freshman' class magazine cover along with Meek Mill, Mac Miller (RIP) and Kendrick Lamar. Jim Jones had some heartfelt words for the one named 'Gordo' at the ceremony, "Fred inspired me to do this music, a lot all over again. There was a time I really didn't want to do no music...and Fred would say, 'Nah, you gotta get in that booth Capo.'"


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Chanel Rae -TheCulturePrincess (@pqchanel)

The Thomas family announced thank you's and love to Councilmember Rafael Salamanca Jr. of District 17 in the South Bronx, Bronx Borough President Ruban Diaz, NYPD's 41st Precinct, and the Bronx community for helping make the Frederick “Fred the Godson” Thomas Way street co-naming possible.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by jimjonescapo (@jimjonescapo)

Much respect to the legacy of the husband and father, Fred The Godson.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Fred The Godson Aka Gordo (@fredthegodsonmusic)

Continue Reading
Jay-Z attends 2020 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH on January 25, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation

Jay-Z Sells Half Stake Of 'Ace Of Spades' To Moët Hennessy In New Partnership

Jay-Z's Armand de Brignac aka Ace of Spaces has sold 50% of its stake in an acquisition by Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH). On Monday morning (Feb. 22), The two leading luxury spirits brands announced their new alliance which includes a global distribution agreement.

“I’m proud to welcome the Arnault family into ours through this partnership that began with Alexandre Arnault and continued with his father Bernard Arnault and Philippe Schaus, at my home in Los Angeles," said Carter in a press release. "It is a partnership that has felt familiar the entire time. We are confident that the sheer power of the Moët Hennessy global distribution framework, its unparalleled portfolio strength and its long-established track record of excellence in developing luxury brands will give Armand de Brignac the commercial power it needs to grow and flourish even further.”

Moët Hennessy's president and CEO, Philippe Schaus shared how his company has been a long-admirer of Armand de Brignac's success in the champagne and wine categories.

“Often referred to as 'Ace of Spades,' Armand de Brignac breaks barriers and reflects contemporary luxury, while preserving the traditions of the Champagne terroirs. Today, we are incredibly proud to be partnering with them and believe that the combination of our Champagne experience and international network coupled with Shawn 'JAY-Z' Carter’s vision, the strength of the Armand de Brignac brand and quality of its range of prestige cuvées will allow us to take the business to new heights across the world.”

Watch Jay-Z's sitdown interview with CNBC's Squawk Box (which aired shortly after the published announcement) where he talks about how the deal came to fruition and his growth since entering the wine and spirits space after boycotting the champagne line, Cristal back in 2006.

Continue Reading

Top Stories