What isn't there to love about Staten Island? I'm from New Brighton. I love my hood. I like going outside and seeing people that touch thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars doing the same thing I'm doing at the moment. Something about that culture that excites me. So I like that. And I liked that I could walk 15 minutes and am in the neighborhood where I'm probably not accepted. Walk. I mean it's crazy. It's crazy. Staten Island is really crazy.
The Africans said I'm American, and the Americans said I'm African. That best explains it. Not really accepted in either part. Some people don't even realize I'm African (Sierra Leone). They think I'm Haitian or West Indian. I've never been to Africa. But I know the culture, I know the food, I know the language that my family is from. I'm a New Yorker.
I didn't grow up with my father which is slightly different in the African household, usually the man is around. The man is the head of the household, but my father was a wild guy, he got deported, he did some things and he got in trouble and couldn't be out here no more. I haven't been in contact with him since. I really haven't had a steady male figure in my life besides the older brothers and mentors and the guidance that I've met along the way. I can't speak on that. I know what it's like to be my own man that was raised by a woman. And even that I feel it's harder because my mother is trying to make sure I don't stray off wherever I want to go because I think I'm a man. You're not going to tell me what to do.
At the end of the day that's still my mother and she still responsible for me even after 21. Especially with African culture, you always the baby. I'm 26, my mother still treats me like a baby.
To be a man, it means somebody that's going to stand for something, that's going to stick by something, be somebody of your word. To be a man is not necessarily a gender thing. When it comes to gender roles, I look at it more like energy, there's linear energy and there's circular energy. Each has its own place and takes its own course and they work together to create a figure.
So as a man, I believe it's my power to be straightforward, hold my ground, not change, not be able to be altered because that's not in my nature as a man. If I need to change direction it's one or two ways, that's it. It's linear. Male energy is linear, people mistake it for power, arrogance, you got to be the stronger one. Things of that nature. That has nothing to do with being a man. Being a man has to do with being able to stay on course. Being able to hold it down, being able to not change, not shift.