Ever since Prohibition, Detroit has been overrun with violence. In the 1920s, the Purple Gang held such a bloody reign over the bootleg circuit, even Al Capone chose to make peace instead of trying to expand into their territory from Chicago. In 1943, after 20,000 White workers walked off the job at a plant manufacturing parts for bombers and PT boats because a small group of Black workers got a promotion, race riots broke out. Twenty-four years later, then-President Lyndon Johnson dropped paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions into the streets of Detroit to halt the 12th Street riot that erupted when police raided a bar in a mostly-Black neighborhood and arrested 82 people in 1967.
Then the 1980s came, and as heroin gave way to crack, Reagan declared war. Mass incarceration decimated inner-city families while Detroit gangs like Young Boys Inc., Pony Down and Adidas helped circulate the massive influx of drugs.
All the while, Detroit was coming apart at the seams, and as White flight and globalization left neighborhoods bare and jobs hard to find, Detroit became one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. “Illegal economies are dangerous economies, they are economies of desperation, they are accompanied by violence, they are accompanied by crime,” says Heather Ann Thompson, professor of history at University of Michigan. By 1994, Detroit’s murder rate was roughly 54 homicides per 100,000 residents, one of the highest in the country.
That was the same year Tee Grizzley, 23, was born. Raised in the Joy Road neighborhood of West Detroit, he had what he calls an “underprivileged” childhood. “I couldn’t get everything I wanted,” the rapper, born Terry Sanchez Wallace, tells XXL. “I had an abusive household, a lot of drugs coming in and out of there.”
Please read his incredible full story and interview here:
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