by Anna Mroczkowski
Samuel Moralez aka PSupremo, is a rapper and actor from the Seattle area who first popped up on our radar when he was cast to play villain Ty in the local film, Enmity Gauge. Since first meeting him, he’s added radio host and author to his list of DIY artist credits. Whether it’s his raps, radio show or new book, PSupremo shares his story with a passionate sincerity that is instantly compelling.
I’m a mother, and one of the first things that grabbed my rib cage from the inside was learning how young he was when he first started selling drugs. He started out at the same elementary school my 10 year-old daughter goes to and in a year from where she is now, he was serving time for his first juvenile offense. Two years from where she is now, he was out of school and selling cocaine on the corners of Pike Street. He speaks his memories softly with the respect that wounds still healing require and he speaks his memories soundly with the resolute perspective that a hell of a lot of time to contemplate can provide. Most of this interview was pieced together from emails sent while currently in custody at a Federal Halfway House in Tacoma. The same spot he will be broadcasting his radio show, Welcome To The Yard from tonight on Hollow Earth Radio at 9pm.
Tell me about what it was like being a kid:
It was crazy. My mom and dad were together for like 15 years before my dad was whisked away to prison. I just remember a lot of drugs and alcohol in the house and my dad always had guns. He carried a 12 gauge shotgun around in a duffel bag just to go to the store. I remember seeing a lot of heroin needles and balloons of dope on the table of their night stand. But even through all the drugs, my mom and dad always tried their hardest to be there for us. We were happy. I remember that.
Do you have siblings?
Yes, I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters but I never really got to know my oldest sister Jenny because I was raised in Seattle and she was raised in Texas. She passed away in 2009 from a drug overdose. My other sister Rita took that the hardest because they were very close. All of us dropped out except my oldest brother Shawn. Me, Rita and Ricco all chose the street life or rather it chose us.
You went to the same school as my daughter. What was school like for you at that age in comparison to home life?
I loved Gatewood. I liked the fact that it was multi-cultural. I had friends and it was all fun and games. So I guess it was a getaway from my family life as far as mom and dad on drugs all the time, but it was totally different in Texas. I absolutely hated school down there. I was in the 4th or 5th grade down there while my dad was serving a state prison sentence back in Washington. My mom moved back down to Texas to kind of start over. Well I did not relate to the kids down there and I was picked on to the point where I brought a huge buck knife to school, pulled it out on the kid who was mostly messing with me and he ran and told the Principal who then called the cops and I was arrested. In booking they found marijuana in my pocket which made it worse. The judge gave me 12 months plus 6. Texas doesn’t play with criminals even if you’re 11 yrs old. When I got released we moved back to Seattle to “better my life” but it just got worse. I ended up in juvenile detention countless times and eventually sent to adult prison at Clallam Bay correctional center when I was 16.
Did you ever feel like a regular kid?
At times I felt like a regular kid but there is nothing regular about a father who glorifies prison to his 10-year-old son. There is nothing regular about watching drugs rip my family apart piece by piece and there is nothing regular about going to adult prison at 16. So if I ever felt like a regular kid, it was all a dream.
You told me you first started selling drugs on 2nd and Pike when you were 12. Can you tell me what led up to that?
I started selling drugs because we were poor. My mom was only getting so much from welfare and at the time she was struggling with a heroin addiction. As humans our first instinct is survival and we make decisions based on the opportunities that are in front of us. We got evicted from our apartment and I took to the streets with my homies. It was my friend Spark G who introduced me to selling cocaine. He was 12 yrs old too. We started staying in motels and selling on Pike Street. It was a crazy time because we were so young we had no sense of direction. The only objective was to sell cocaine and survive those cold nights. Back in the 90s we hustled for survival, now I see kids doing it just to have better clothes or to emulate a rap video. Drugs and gangs are always going to be here, it’s just different motivations now.
Did any programs try to help you?
All the programs that were supposed to be helpful seemed like they couldn’t reach me. I was so focused on being a gang member, even at an early age that I just was too far gone by the time I was 11. I wanted to go to prison. My father was a member of a notorious prison gang and I grew up around that. I looked at the outreach programs like a joke. It wasn’t that they were doing something wrong it was just that I had my mind made up and nothing was going to change that. I was told and shown at an early age that prison was the “big time”, the place where the elite gangsters go, a place where I could earn respect and make a name for myself.
When you were a teenager, what were your biggest day-to-day fears?
My biggest fear has always been death, the unknown. I watched my people getting shot and stabbed to death and it really affected me. I was always on alert for rival gang members and I always prayed that God would watch my back out on the streets. The second fear was and still is going back to jail. Being robbed of your freedom is a sick feeling, it’s torture.
Do you think art plays a role in how you manage to preserve your big heart through such intense struggle? If so how?
I think art does play a role in that. It’s soothing to hear a good song or see a nice drawing and I think that radiates off me. I listen to a lot of Gangsta/Pimp/drug rap but it’s what I like and I get drawings from the homies in prison here and there and it makes me feel good. But at the end of the day, I had a good heart from day one. [The Federal Prison System] ripped it from me, and I’m gradually trying to piece it back together through my art and music.
You’re older now, what are some of the big lessons you have learned along the way that make you who you are and make your awareness better?
I’ve learned the hardest lessons in life. I learned that no matter what cards you are dealt, it is absolutely how you play the hand. I mean 3 long trips to federal prisons all over America and having to deal with the loss of my father while I was locked up, then to have to come home with no one there to receive me. It has been a battle but we only have a short amount of time to be on this planet and we need to make an impact in the time that we have. Love life everyday because we are not promised a heaven. I mean we are “promised” a heaven but I’m not buying it that easy so while I’m alive and well, I’m trying to make the biggest impact in the world that I can.
When you were a kid did you ever dream about being someone other than a hustler?
You know I did dream about being an actor, a radio show host, and a rapper. I’m not just saying that because of my current situation. I used to act like I was talking with “T.MAN” on the radio station kube 93 or I would constantly be reenacting movie scenes in front of my family. I guess my dreams are starting to come true.
So tell me about this book?
I’ve been working on a book for about five years now. I wrote a lot while I was locked up and the stories just kept pouring out before I even considered making it into a book. I just did it to let out my past. It’s basically a collection of short non-fiction stories about my personal life inside of prison and my experiences as a cocaine dealer on the streets of Seattle. I tell a few stories about some of the people who I’ve met along the way, some of whom are now dead. I actually had to stop writing at one point because a lot of old wounds were opening up and I hadn’t dealt with them yet, but my motivation and ambition prevailed. It’s in the editing process now. I hope to release it this summer.
When did you first start rapping?
I started rapping about the age of 10. It was mainly just singing NWA songs around the house. That went on for a few years. I knew I wanted to rap, I just hadn’t found my own words to say at that point.
When did you start writing your rhymes?
I started writing rhymes in Clallam Bay when I was 16. A fellow convict who was hella dope at rapping put me on game as far as counting 16 bars and the hooks. Back then I had a 2pac tape Me Against the World and I must have written literally thousands of songs while I was there. Unfortunately I lost them in the shuffle during the Federal raid at my house years later, but it’s nothing to write raps. I have plenty more.
Who have been some notable influences?
My father, rest his soul, has influenced me to be a better artist and he made me realize that I should have a plan Z much less B. Also my dear friend Otis Calvin. He really showed me another way out of the street life through music. When I came home from prison, I didn’t have a record label or any thing like that to come out to but OC made me feel like we had our own camp, and it’s still like that to this day.
Do you feel connected to young Latinos or youth in general on similar paths? Do you have any interest in deterring kids from this kind of hard living? If so, what do you want them to know or what do you hope for them?
I have a connection with all inner-city youth no matter if they’re black, Mexican, Asian, white, it doesn’t matter. I’m a street cat and I relate to street life. It’s messed up to see the kids going down that path but I mean I’m still fighting with myself to not do certain things. Who am I to tell a kid don’t be a gang member when I still love my gang? Who am I to tell a kid don’t use drugs when I get in trouble at probation for using drugs? It’s an everyday struggle for me to stay on a righteous path. Maybe one day I will be in a position to be a better role model but I have to work on myself first. I mean it’s definitely a goal of mine. I genuinely have love for street kids and I want to see them succeed.
Staying out of the street life has been the hardest part of my life. It was easy for me to walk the yard with a shank, it was easy for me to attack another convict in battle, it was easy for me to accept my father’s death while on lock down. But staying away from the street life is hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. But I do promise that this is a battle I plan to win.
This hardly scratches the surface. As I finish this article I can think of 5 really good stories off the top of my head that we haven’t touched. He isn’t kidding when he says he has plenty of material and it’s his talent for storytelling that makes his radio show and his art interesting. Whatever hand is up next for PSupremo, you can be sure we will be right there cheering him on.
“dive deep into America’s new cup of coffee “Crystal Meth” and the very stiff prison sentences handed out over it. Plus What is a “Career Offender?” And how did a guy get 27 yrs for 2 rocks of cocaine worth 20$?”