Ir8 the Irrational One (@eye_r8) is back with new singles to flood the streets! “M.M.I.N.Y (Mega Man in New York)’ features Akin Haynes and a suprising verse from the illustrious songstress, Laurelle. The second single is “Imagine That” featuring Kilam.

Stream and purchase below on Apple Music:


imagine that



Many people come to the topic of cannabis legalization from a range of different perspectives and positions. I approach this as a member of a community that was adversely affected during the war on drugs, during the war on cannabis, and as a rigorous academic scholar studying Public and Urban Policy, Stratification Economics and Black Masculine Studies.

I want to present some aspects to this that not everyone has delved into enough and to tie together conversations that are happening simultaneously yet are so far apart.

As a 27-year resident of Canarsie, I am pained by the position video that Assembly member Jaime Williams has taken on cannabis regulation and taxation for New Yorkers over the age of 21 along with State Senator Roxanne Persaud. Assembly Member Williams’ district covers, Canarsie, Georgetown, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bergen Beach and Gerritsen Beach. The 15 residents that appeared alongside the elected officials at their presser are in no way representative of the larger district that totals 150,000 and their feelings concerning cannabis regulation.

Canarsie, along with Flatlands and Mill Basin in a powerful example of Black suburbanization, these neighborhoods have amongst the most dramatic racial population shifts in the City of New York during the war on drugs. Canarsie has a population of 88,000 residents with roughly 75,000 of those residents identifying as Black or African -American alone, the most of any Neighborhood Tabulation Area (NTA) according to the New York City Department of City Planning Population
Fact Finder.

According to a May 18th New York Times editorial NYT Report, as a result of such a high
concentration of Blackness ,officers in the precinct covering Canarsie arrested people on marijuana possession charges at a rate more than four times as high as in the precinct that includes Greenpoint, despite residents calling 311, the city’s help line, and 911 to complain about marijuana at the same rate. The Canarsie precinct is 85 percent Black. The Greenpoint precinct is 4 percent Black.

In addition, a 2017 Drug Policy Alliance report entitled Unjust-Unconstitutional, shows Canarsie as one of the 15 Neighborhoods In New York City with HIGH Rates and Numbers of Marijuana Possession Arrests, and where Blacks and Latinos are almost the only people arrested for marijuana. Of those 15 neighborhoods Canarsie had the highest median income of $61,300; more evidence that race trumps class in policing the war on drugs. Couple this data with another New York Times expose on Inequality between Black and white boys highlighting that Black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families (Canarsie a working -class neighborhood by no means wealthy) and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods, still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds, according to a sweeping new study that
traced the lives of millions of children. White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however, are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households.” This data can be directly correlated to a preponderance of police interaction of Black male bodies, to no fault of their own. A neighborhood with a lower median income Sheepshead Bay, in which State Senator Persaud also represents along with Canarsie with a median income of $52,673 is second among the 15 Predominantly White Neighborhoods in NYC Where Most Marijuana Possession Arrests are of Blacks and Latinos when they are only 12% of the population. Again, regardless of the neighborhood in the 19 Senatorial district, if you are a young Black or Latino male your life is most likely to be interrupted for cannabis prosecution.

Marijuana policy over the last 40 years in Black communities across New York city like Canarsie and Flatlands has been a policy of extraction. Tearing apart families as cannabis possession is the 4th most likely offense to cause deportation in this largely Caribbean-immigrant neighborhood. It is imperative that both Assembly member Williams and Senator Persaud get on the right side of history concerning cannabis and have actual conversations and forums within their own neighborhoods with constituent voices leading the way, not outdated and non-empirically backed rhetoric from elected officials.


The only statement where Assembly member Williams was correct in her press conference is when she said that “it has ruined lives and is a gateway drug,” indeed it has ruined lives, it has ruined the lives of hundreds of Black boys 14-19 year old’s and Black men 20 to 24 year old’s who end up missing, unaccounted for and disenfranchised every year within her district because even the smell of cannabis has given law enforcement cart blanche over their bodies. Therein lies the gateway to a false sense of danger and criminality. A son of Flatlands and CB18, newly elected Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has championed a fair and equitable pathway to cannabis legalization, as part of the Progressive Caucus in the New York City council. Additionally, there is a bill is in the state assembly (Marijuana Regulation and Taxation AC5-A.3506-C) with the
sponsorship of many of AM Williams colleagues included but not limited to Peoples-Stokes, Gottfried, Lupardo, Sepulveda, Weprin, Hunter, Hyndman, Pichardo, Blake, Rosenthal L, Jaffee, Dinowitz, Jean-Pierre, Abinanti, Richardson, Hevesi, Walker, Jenne, Vanel, Pellegrino, Niou, Wright, Bichotte, Cahill, Lifton, Epstein, Mosley, Seawright, Simon, Skartados, Steck, Taylor.

When addressing issues that are germane to outgroup males (Black and Brown boys and men) we must not begin from a place of fear-mongering and pathology, no other group requires such distinction. This only aids in the outdated and draconian perspectives of persons that are vital for neighborhood stability. When addressing legalization in New York state, we need to begin from a place of clearing prior criminal records, addressing the harms done to housing, immigration and child welfare, create an equitable and sustainable industry, and to reinvest revenues to communities that were most harmed, like Canarsie. Yes, to marijuana justice.

This Op-Ed piece is an excerpt from a larger piece Keeping Black Markets Black: A Stratification Economic, Public Health, and Reparative Justice Model for Cannabis Equity in the City of New York.

Floyd Jarvis is a Bard Prison Initiative Public Health Fellow
Executive Director of Canarsie Neighborhood Alliance
Graduate student @ The New School in Public and Urban Policy
Member of the Start Smart New York campaign.




A week after 2018’s Election Day, residents of New York City were hit with the news of Long Island City as the chosen location for the new Amazon HQ2. With this unveiling, horrendous details of this deal between Andrew Cuomo and Jeff Bezos’s tax evading company began to make headlines. Not only was Amazon coming to Long Island City, a section of Queens undergoing rapid gentrification, the company was being granted up to 3 billion dollars in state subsidized grants: NEW YORK TAXPAYER MONEY. Amazon avoided paying taxes in 2018 and it has been reported that they will avoid paying taxes again in 2019 despite making double the profits they had last year:

According to a report published by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy Wednesday, the e-tail/retail/tech entertainment/everything giant won’t have to pay a cent in federal taxes for the second year in a row. This tax-free break comes even though Amazon almost doubled its US profits from $5.6 billion to $11.2 billion between 2017 and 2018. To top it off, Amazon actually reported a $129 milion 2018 federal income tax rebate—making its tax rate -1%. – Fortune, 2019

One of the richest men in the world, notorious tax evader, was being given 3 billion dollars in CORPORATE WELFARE. On top of it, the Amazon HQ2 would’ve had a helipad in exchange for 25,000 jobs and “job training” for NYCHA residents in the area. All of this would’ve been located next to Queensbridge Houses, the largest project complex in the country. With the news of this, the pushback from local grassroots organizations and coalitions such as Queens Anti-Gentrification, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), CAAV, Fuck Off Amazon, and several more was enough to scare the corporate giants away from Queens. These organizations and coalitions were able to organize the people in Long Island City to mobilize against Amazon by petitioning, rallying, interrupting city council meetings, and employing tactics that applied pressure on city officials, state officials and the company itself. In Amazon’s statement on their decision to not follow through with HQ2 in LIC, the negative response from “state and local politicians” is pointed as the primary reason:

After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens. For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term. While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.” – Amazon, 2019.

Somehow the long struggle fought by the members of the community isn’t mentioned. This trend is also seen in the cover article of the New York Daily News titled “Amazon Killers,” which features New York state politicians who opposed Amazon and blames them solely for the company’s departure.


Although these politicians were vocal about their disdain for Amazon and the bad deal it was for New York City, they were NOT the ones who were foot on the ground and bringing the community together against the cause. With the people pushing Amazon away, only the bourgeois capitalists are the ones hurt and scared about the deal falling through. Real estate agents and tech companies alike are fearful about what the future holds as one of the biggest companies folded from the backlash. Real estate agents were depending on the “Amazon effect” to boom housing which would result in millions for these leeches. The same housing that natives local to the area would never be able to afford. They were banking on Amazon to attract more gentrifiers to an area that’s already affected by gentrification at rapid rates.

“I’m certainly disappointed. It’s been a really surprising morning, to be honest,” said Lauren Renee Bennett, a broker for Corcoran who has serviced the area for the past six years, and lived there more than a decade.She told CNN Business she recently had five contracts that were sent out within a one week period, and all were signed in “record time,” because of the boom. She was even featured in the New York Post for quickly selling several condos in the area after Amazon’s announcement in November.She estimated there had been a total of $8 million worth of real estate deals with signed contracts, as well as another $4 million to $5 million currently in negotiations.Bennett was hardly the only one who saw a sudden change in the market. – KXLY, 2019

Tech companies are also fearful about what the future hold for them in New York City and big cities around the country. These same companies are the ones who import gentrifiers and in turn create little utopias for them in conjunction with real estate agencies:

“I think it’s a continuing trend of how companies are running smack into the face of communities they have ignored,” contended Li. “The reality is when you move into a city, you have to build relationships. But Amazon basically marched in with an attitude of, ‘Hey, you will be lucky to get us.’ What we are seeing is tech companies are no longer the knight in shining armor. ‘Oh, let me bestow my benevolence upon you’ — 25,000 jobs — but only if you do my bidding.” – Yahoo, 2019

Charlene Li has the right idea. In Amazon’s statement they claimed that about 70 percent of New Yorkers were in favor of their move to Long Island City, but the pushback from the local organizations, coalitions and residents proved that this isn’t the case. These communities should always have a say in what they want because they are the ones who are affected greatly by developments of gentrifications. These effects are never beneficial to the residents of these neighborhoods. As much as publications, politicians, capitalists and all those alike refuse to acknowledge the strength in the organization of working-class people, it is THE COLLECTIVE POWER OF WORKING-CLASS PEOPLE OF QUEENS WHO GAINED THE VICTORY! YOU CANNOT DENY OR IGNORE THE PEOPLE! IT IS MORE OF US THAN IT IS OF THE BOURGEOIS CLASS! LET IT BE KNOW THAT THE WORKING-CLASS IS NOT FUCKING AROUND! WHEN WE SAY GET THE FUCK OUT, WE MEAN IT!



phonto (1)
The New York City Housing Authority also known as NYCHA, had a truly eventful year in 2018 with the headlines they made over a span of months. With many of these atrocities hidden for years by the city, these public health crises were finally uncovered and brought to light. The cases that are more recent are still deplorable and need to have continuous light shed on them due to these instances not being isolated by any means. NYCHA’s tenants and observers within New York City already knew of the agency’s uselessness, but with all these cases highlighting New York City’s negligent nature in handling of them, its only right to declare New York City itself as the biggest fucking slumlord of them all. Let’s discuss some of these deplorable, unfortunate examples:

NYCHA has long been under fire for lead-paint cases that led to developmental delays in kids that have been affected by it. The city only admitted to 19 children who lived in NYCHA that tested positive for elevated levels of lead in their blood in the last 10 years but in June 2018, a shocking revelation hit the news making month-long headlines. The city actually was aware of more than 800 children living in NYCHA who tested positive for levels of elevated lead in their blood between the years of 2012 and 2016; A COMPLETELY STARK DIFFERENCE IN WHAT WAS ORIGINALLY REPORTED:

For the first time the city acknowledged that from 2012 through 2016, 820 children ages 5 and under living in NYCHA apartments had tested positive for elevated lead levels of 5 to 9 micro-grams per deciliter of blood. Since 2012, the CDC has recommended public health intervention for any child from infants to 5 years old with blood-lead levels of 5 micro-grams or greater. Elevated blood-lead levels are known to cause developmental delays in small children. – 2018, NYTimes


EXAMPLE 2: NYCHA Water Contamination
Another NYCHA public health crisis was exposed in July 2018. It was revealed that NYCHA’s water tanks were examined by city inspectors of the New York City Department of Health. The water tanks were found to have dead birds, dead rats, flying insects, dead squirrels, and feces amongst other grotesque findings. All these life-threatening, hazardous findings were handwritten in NYCHA’s “Annual Roof Tank Inspection Reports,” which are filled with findings and horrendous details that NYCHA refused to report to city health officials.

“Inside a stack of hundreds of internal NYCHA documents, vivid details of contamination leap off dozens of pages– dead birds and squirrels, flying insects, and things floating and growing inside NYCHA’s many damaged wooden drinking water tanks. But the documents also show that evidence of potentially hazardous conditions in its water tanks was blotted out using white-out under a recent policy change that appears to have had a chilling effect.” – City & State, 2018


EXAMPLE 3: Rat infestation
In 2018, NYCHA residents in the Claremont Houses in the Bronx had to deal with a terrifying rat infestation after a trash compactor in the basement was shut off, making the rats move upwards to apartments and making conditions unlivable. A 1-year child was bit on the stomach by a rat and had to receive care with antibiotics. Videos were captured by the tenants which shows rats climbing on sinks in the kitchen, all throughout cupboards and in toilets.

“I should never have to experience not one but seven rats in my kitchen,” Martinez said. It’s disgusting. All over the stove, the washing machine, they just invaded my apartment.” – CBS New York, 2018

EXAMPLE 4: No heat or hot water on holidays or coldest days of year
A problem that has been prevalent throughout the decades for NYCHA continues to persist. During the Thanksgiving break, NYCHA tenants went without hot water or heat to celebrate their time with their families.

“I’ve heard so many stories of the pipes freezing and that’s why there’s no heat or cleaning the water tank and that’s why there’s no water,’ the 45-year old mom said. “It’s literally the same excuse every year. You couldn’t have done this in the summer so by the time comes winter it’s done?” – NY Post, 2018

Recently on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, New York City experienced weather as low as 9 degrees and NYCHA residents faced the same fate they did during Thanksgiving break and random times throughout the harsh winters:

“No heat, no hot water! It’s cold in there! We got the stove going all day and still freezing! It’s cold in here. It’s terrible!” said Deloris Byrd, one of 2,829 residents affected at Brooklyn’s Bushwick Houses when the heat went out due to an electrical issue Monday morning. “I’m going to be 78 and I got health issues. No hot water, no heat. I pray they get it back soon or I’ll be in big trouble,” she said.” – NY Post, 2019

These are only a few examples from 2018 to present 2019. Years and years, tenants of NYCHA have been facing negligence at the hands of NYCHA and New York City. The poorest and most vulnerable segments of New York City’s population live within NYCHA and deserve adequate housing conditions. These aren’t just random instances, or regular issues. These are the public health crises NYCHA’s tenants are burdened. Usually when we think of state-sanctioned violence, we think of police brutality cases, but causing physical harm to the health of hundred thousands of tenants is also state violence. Knowingly hiding and keeping details to cover their asses has harmed and put hundred thousands of poor people at risk of serious health complications. This is state violence at play and the tenants are the subjects of it. How long are we going to stand for New York City’s violence towards NYCHA residents? When the year’s list of worst slumlords are compiled, make sure to put New York City on top as the reigning champion.



The unveiling of the proposed Amazon HQ in Long Island City was the end of the year slap in the face to working-class New Yorkers. Governor Cuomo decided to grant one of the richest men in the world and his company Amazon with a damn near 3 billion dollar tax break with state subsidized funds, also known as New York taxpayer money. Jeff Bezos and Amazon plan to bring 25,000 jobs to New York City with this proposed headquarters but who will be filling those positions up? Surely not native New Yorkers. Long Island City is already one of the most gentrified neighborhoods in Queens and this Amazon HQ will surely further plague the neighborhood.

The increased gentrification of NYC has made ACTUAL affordable housing harder to obtain for working-class New Yorkers. Who cares though when Jeff Bezos is getting a fucking helipad, right? The richest company in the world was granted CORPORATE WELFARE while working-class New Yorkers struggle with shitty public transportation, education, lack of affordable housing and student debt. With this CORPORATE WELFARE granted to Amazon, New Yorkers will most likely see a slash in social services that are a necessity with gentrification making living harder for working-class people. Letitia James, Jumaane Williams, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Ydanis Rodriguez and Yvette Clarke are just a few popular NYC politicians that signed on in FAVOR of Long Island City becoming the site for Amazon’s new HQ.


Not to mention, several reports have come out about Amazon’s deplorable treatment of its workers:

A separate survey released Sunday by labor group Organise found that  74% of 102 fulfillment employees surveyed avoided using the bathroom to prevent disciplinary action. Most said they were concerned about missing increasingly high targets. 55% said they have suffered from depression since starting their work at Amazon, and 57% said they’ve been more anxious. Another undercover report in The Mirror by Alan Selby documents disturbing conditions in fulfillment centers — workers were asked to stand for the entirety of their 10-hour shifts, except for two 30-minute breaks. Bathroom breaks were automatically timed by work stations. Selby says he witnessed someone collapse and saw another have a panic attack after learning they would have to work a 55-hour week during Christmas. “ – DIGG MAGAZINE, 2018

We all know Queens as the most diverse borough of New York City, home to someone from almost every nation, country, and island in the world. Queens has a high population of immigrants within it and Amazon is helping the Trump administration by providing technology to ICE:

Asked about Amazon’s efforts to sell facial recognition technology to ICE, Huseman replied, “We provide that recognition service to a variety of agencies and government should have the best technology.” He said the company has a “positive record” on immigration, including advocating for Dreamers and green card reform. –, 2018

So Amazon is helping NYC while helping Trump with his deportation machine? Lets now talk about the NYCHA residents of Long Island City who are stiffed with this deal. Residents of Queensbridge Houses won’t get preferential treatment in terms of employment with Amazon either. They’ll only get “job training,” which we see is the common “benefit” when companies come to rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods to lessen the blow.

So whether you support this shitty ass Amazon deal or not, you better know that none of this shit is for New Yorkers who need it the most, but one of the richest men in the world got free taxpayer money, as if he fucking needed anymore.




If you haven’t heard of her by now, you should get to know Brooklyn’s young, beautiful lyricist, Lil Boo. Equipped with a completely polished flow that pairs well with witty lyrical content, Lil Boo can hang with and out-rap women and men alike. In “Oh Lord,” Lil Boo shows us a gritty side and delivers as usual.
Check out the video for “Oh Lord” below:

Lil Boo’s social media:

IG: @lilboo.official

Facebook: Lil Boo




In the middle of the 19th century,  the living conditions of Downtown Manhattan deteriorated, the prices were incredibly expensive and the neighborhoods were overcrowded. This led wealthy white people to Harlem for cheaper rents and more living space and opportunist real estate developers decided this was the time to beautify Harlem for the wealthy. As poor Puerto Rican, Jewish and Irish immigrants lived in tenements, shacks and old estates, white real estate developers decided to tear down the slums of Harlem to create luxury housing for the white elite. The real estate developers invested so deeply in Harlem for the white wealthy newcomers which made the value of other property in the area rise. In praise of Harlem, the New York Times wrote that the neighborhood was “one of the most densely populated and prosperous wards in the City,” with almost fifty thousand people, a police precinct, a public library, and four newspapers.”

As Harlem became a bastion for economic growth, the neighborhood was annexed by the city authorities in 1873 due to a nationwide financial crisis. Despite the annexation and financial crisis, Harlem saw new construction of sights such as Oscar Hammerstein’s opera house on 125th Street in 1889, the world’s largest gothic cathedral, St. John the Divine in 1892 on West 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue and finally the completion of the Columbia University campus on 116th Street and Broadway in 1897.4 Brownstones lined the blocks along West 110th Street ensuring that “great care is taken of the property to preserve its exclusive appearance,” in its advertisement to white wealthy New Yorkers. Costs of rent differed drastically in other parts of New York City filled with working-class residents between 10 to 12 dollars in contrast to the starting price of 80 dollars for upper-class white Harlem. The over-investment into Harlem’s new demographic backfired as the neighborhood saw hundreds of newly constructed homes unsold and thousands of apartments unoccupied. The real estate developers and owners of buildings could not convince the white elite to stay in Harlem after the over-investment in property for them specifically. This reality did not stop real estate agencies from trying to keep Harlem filled with white tenants. One example case of white owners and agents attempt to remove black tenants took place in April 1904:

It was the Hudson Realty Company that put the colored tenants out of the three houses. This concern had bought a tract of land fronting on 135th Street near Lenox Avenue. In order to increase the desirability of the property, which they were preparing to cut up in lots for sale to a builder, they bought the three tenements which are situated across the street from their own building lots, and which were then inhabited by negroes and put in white tenants.

The Hudson Realty Company shamelessly purchased the three tenements with the intent to evict the black tenants and rehouse white tenants within them. Rehousing them with white tenants was the Hudson Realty Company’s desperate attempt at pitching to racist white owners who were now looking away from Harlem to own or rent. A move to show power over black residents and how far the racist white elite would go to maintain Harlem as an upscale white neighborhood, the Hudson Realty Company ignited a fire in black residents that would yield results they weren’t prepared for.

Between the years of 1890 to 1900, the black population of Manhattan grew by 41 percent from 25,674 to 36,426.7 Behind Manhattan’s surge of black residents were the growing numbers of blacks leaving the South to escape segregation, racialized violence, poor living conditions and declining economic opportunities. Black people in downtown Manhattan were also facing violence from anti-black riots such as the one in Tenderloin, Minetta Lane and San Juan Hill. The construction of the Subway IRT Ninth-Avenue line in 1904 made the travel from downtown to uptown Manhattan easier by moving straphangers from City Hall to 145th Street in Harlem, making for another accessible way for black people in Downtown Manhattan to commute Uptown. When the black people of Harlem saw the black tenants displaced for white tenants by the Hudson Realty Company to “increase desirability” for prospective white owners and renters, a plan of retaliation went underway. Banking on the desperation of the real estate agents and landlords of these buildings, as well as the black working-class in downtown Manhattan looking for suitable housing, a man named Philip A Payton Jr sought to make sure black people would fill out the vacant homes, apartments and tenements in Harlem. Payton opened an office in 1900 which money from his custodian job to create housing opportunities for black people in Manhattan and published advertisements in an array of real estate publications. One of Payton’s advertisements read:

“COLORED/TENEMENTS WANTED/Colored man makes a speciality of managing colored tenements; references; bond. Philip A. Payton, Jr., agent and broker, 67 W. 134th”

Years later, Payton would see the housing contradictions between black and white people in Harlem. The frustration of the displacement of the black tenements led to the creation of the Afro-American Realty Company led by Philip A Payton Jr alongside other well-off African Americans. The Afro-American Realty Company began with an authorized capital of $50,000 and vowed to lease, buy and build flats and apartments for rental to black people in the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn, so that any black person can live wherever in New York City if they had the money to pay for it.10 The men who started the movement were William Ten Eyek, Winston Dabney, Walter E. Handy, James A Garner, John Stevenson, Wilford H Smith, James C Thomas and of course, Philip A Payton Jr. James C. Thomas was the President of the company with Payton Jr as vice president and General Manager. In the prospectus of their company’s subscription magazine, they wrote:

The reason for the present condition of the colored tendency in New York City today is because of the race prejudice of the white owner and his white agent. When the owner becomes colored and his agent colored, then there is compelled to come an improvement of the condition.


The Afro-American Realty Company explained that racist white owners and their agents could never improve the housing segregation in New York City because they simply did not want to. Racist white owners and agents did not believe that black people should be living or simply coexisting in upscale neighborhoods with the white elite. The mere presence of black residents would make the neighborhood look uninhabitable for the white renters as we saw with the Hudson Realty Company, and the Afro-American Realty Company sought to capitalize on the racism of white owners and agents also written in their prospectus magazine:

Race prejudice is a luxury, and like all other luxuries, can be made very expensive in New York City. With a cash capital of $50,000 the Afro-American Realty Company can turn race prejudice into dollars and cents. The very prejudice which has therefore worked against us can be turned and used for profit.

The Afro American Realty Company’s methodical plan to house black people in New York City wherever they desired worked. Housing discrimination implemented by the Hudson Realty Company and others with the same approach were not helping to occupy the very homes and buildings created for the prospective wealthy whites. Payton and his colleagues capitalized on the money the white owners were not receiving due to their racism, but not without retaliation.

In 1905, white tenants of three tenement houses in West 135th Street received dispossess notices from the Afro-American Realty Company.13A New York Times article wrote that “Philip A Payton Jr., who is chief organizer had obtained the title to the houses where they made their homes and decided to put out the white residents and put negroes instead.” Payton and Afro-American Realty Company gave these three white tenants the same fate in which the black tenements faced at the hands of Hudson Realty Company. In the same New York Times article is stated that:

Philip A Payton Jr in a few days will begin to fill the tenements on the other side of the street with negroes. The houses were bought, not from the Hudson Realty Company, because that concern had sold them long ago, but from Kassel and Goldberg, another real estate concern. Yesterday, they were sold again by Payton to a “client. No one doubts that the client is the Afro-American Realty Corporation.

Payton and his real estate partners sought to give the white residents, agents and owners a taste of their own medicine by putting the white tenants in the same exact position as the Hudson Realty Company did to the black residents of the dispossessed tenements. As Hudson Realty Company exerted their power to keep Harlem white, Payton and the Afro-American Realty Company returned the favor to assure that black people would live wherever they wanted in Harlem and that the neighborhood was now for them. The white residents of the tenements dispossessed by the Afro-American Realty Company were of working-class background and pleaded to keep their flats but were met with scrutiny by the workers of the company. This occurrence led to the sale and acquisition of the tenements that Hudson Realty Company originally dispossessed by the Afro-American Realty Company.

In 1906, Payton and his company ventured even more Uptown as they called for black residents for a three-story flat-house they purchased on 525 West 151st Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. This very flat-house was also filled with white residents living within. The purchase of the flat-house took place in late July of 1906 in which the white residents were notified that they would have to leave by August 1st. The advertisement from the Afro-American Realty Company calling for black residents was a sign posted right outside the flat-house with a white background and red letters reading:“Choice Four and Five-Room Apartments for Colored Tenants. Apply Janitor.”


This very purchase confused and angered the white residents within the flat-house due to high-class apartment houses and private residences on the block not being sold instead. The news of the flat-house sale spread around the neighborhoods paired with the sign caused the residents to grow indignant. An investigation of the property at 525 West 151st Street showed that Herman Raabe Sons of 161 Boulevard Lafayette built the flat-house a year before the purchase and sold it to Louis Meyer of 320 Broadway as Louis Meyer eventually sold it to the Afro-American Realty Company. Louis Meyer introduced Payton to the woman who worked as the janitor in the flat-house as “the agent for the new owners of the house here. He’s going to get all the white families out and put negro families in their places.” The woman went to tell all the white families who occupied the flat the bad news as Louis Meyer tasked her to nail the sign that called for prospective black residents to inquire about the newly available flats. The janitor, Mrs. Roth, refused to nail the sign as Meyer insisted he’ll have someone else, a black man, nail it instead. According to accounts from fifteen white flat-house families, Payton greeted them with the August 1st move-out date: “You’ll have to get out by Aug. 1. We’ve got black families to take your place.” Soon enough word around the neighborhood spread so fast that even the Herman Raabe Sons found out the fate of the flat-house they built:

It’s a trick to make us buy them out,” they declared. “We own other property in the same block, and anybody with common sense can see that if negroes move into that apartment building our values will be ruined. It’s an outrage—a shame. We’ll fight it to a finish.”

The other real estate company, Shearer & Ginsburg, shared the same sentiment as Herman Raabe Sons and vowed to fight for the properties in the neighborhood to remain filled with white residents. White real estate companies viewed the Afro-American Realty Company’s acquisition of properties as a conspiracy to bring down their property values with black residents. These real estate companies would not acknowledge how their racist practices led to the Afro-American Realty Company’s creation and bid to house black residents all over Harlem. Payton stated that what the company aimed to do was “stop forced colonization.”

Payton Jr’s successful housing of black residents earned him the nickname “Father of Harlem,” but his tendency to acquire more properties with a failure to house black residents in all of them led him to suffer the same fate of the racist owners and agents he capitalized on. Legal troubles began to plague Payton as he continued his real estate venture. By 1907, Payton was arrested for fraud in a civil suit “brought against him and his company by Charles J. Crowder, acting for himself and as assignee for other stockholders in the company, to recover money paid for capital stock of the company and to have stock subscriptions cancelled.” Crowder’s complaint against Payton accused him of running the Afro-American Realty Company with the intent to deceive the general public and black people. Crowder alleged that amongst of Payton’s fraudulent statements were that “$100,000 of the capital stock of the company had been paid in; that the company was in a position to do away with negro colonization in the City of New York; that the company was in a position to double the interest paid by savings banks; that it would pay from 7 to 10 percent dividends on every dollar invested in its stock; that the company held five-year leases on ten flats, while as a matter of fact all the leases contained sixty and ninety day cancellation clauses; that the company owned four five-story flats valued at $125,000, while as a matter of fact the company held an equity in four five-story flats worth about $10,000. Crowder also alleges that Payton concealed the fact that $50,000 of the stock of the company was issued to Payton and his associates fraudulently.” 

Payton retorted the claims of fraud brought onto him by saying that “the whole affair is a spite action brought against me by the former counsel of our company and several dissatisfied stockholders.” What would be left of the Afro-American Realty Company crumbled in the recession of 1907-1908. By this time, Harlem was already developed into the African American enclave as white property owners continued to resist, forming block associations and insisting on only renting or selling to whites. Organizations such as the Save Harlem Committee, the Protective Association for 130th to 132nd Streets, Anglo-Saxon Realty and the infamous Harlem Property Owners Improvement Association all fought to no avail to keep Harlem white. One tactic used by these organizations were petitions to keep black owners from renting to black people in Central Harlem led by a man named John G. Taylor. Amongst other tactics he used were:

moral suasion to prevent other deals, opposing policy changes that allowed Negroes to use the New York Public Library branch at 103 West 135th Street, approving of mass evictions of blacks, working for the resegregation of the Sixth Avenue and Ninth Avenue elevated trains, hiring detectives to investigate new arrivals, and advocating a twenty-four-foot-high fence along West 136th Street to keep blacks from moving north.

The employment of all these tactics showed the desperation of white Harlem residents and how fearful they were as they saw the transformation of Harlem into a black enclave from the stoop of their brownstones. The Harlem white owners and their agents invested into did not come into fruition as they hoped. The peculiar circumstances of racial prejudice and economics would continue to transform Harlem into a highly-populated black neighborhood. Years before World War 1, racial segregation made “vacancy rates in black neighborhoods elsewhere in Manhattan drop to the extraordinarily low rate of 3 percent by 1914.” Black and white landlords alike were more than willing to rent to black people in Harlem as they were able to pay the rent. Soon enough, the black exodus of the South, known as the Great Migration led to another spike of black population within the neighborhood Harlem. By 1916, an estimate of 6 million Southern Black Americans would migrate North to escape segregation, racial violence, and economic deprivation. Between the years of 1920 to 1930, Harlem’s black population increased to 120,000. with the white population decreasing by the equivalent amount. With an influx of black people from the South, black from other parts of New York City and blacks who immigrated from the Caribbean, Harlem’s culture would shape into one yet seen throughout the diaspora.yo put upt



Prior to the advanced technology we have today, the kids of New York City played heavily in the streets. Whether it was freeze tag, manhunt, running around in the Johnny pump, double dutch or hopscotch, city kids always found creative ways to play. The game of skully is one of the most iconic street games New York City has seen. Since the 1950s, kids of New York City have been melting crayon, clay or wax into bottle caps to create their playing pieces. With chalk, players would draw out the skully board on the sidewalk or asphalt:


Below are the rules of skully:

Make a skully board with chalk on a patch of available and relatively smooth street or sidewalk. The board consists of 13 numbered boxes, 1 through 12 on the periphery of the board, and a box labeled 13 in the center surrounded by a “dead man’s zone” or “skull.”
Start at a line outside the skully box and aim for the “1” box, flicking your bottlecap with your finger. If you get it in (without it touching any line), you keep your turn and shoot for the next box. You can also advance a box by hitting the cap of an opposing player. If you’re close to another player’s piece, you can try to blast the piece halfway down the block with your own. In some neighborhoods, you can replace your cap with a special heavy one (like from a juice or peanut butter jar) for this purpose, though you couldn’t do this if someone calls “no blasting allowed.”

After going from 1 to 13, you have to return, going from 13 to 1. After completing the full journey, you shoot back into 13 and then navigate the “skull,” shooting your piece in the forbidden “dead areas” of the skull while declaring your new powers (“I am a killer diller”).

From this point on, you hunt the other players. Only you (or other killers) can safely go within the skull. If you hit another player (3 times consecutively), they’re out of the game. If they hit you, they become a killer too (or, if you decide beforehand, they’re out of the game). The last person left wins.

Thought not as popular, skully still remains a cultural staple in New York City. Check out some images of skully and a very hood tutorial of the game below:




IMG_4987Out of every few artists, there’s always one artist that is well-rounded in style, flow, delivery, song creation, and lyrical content. Chalice is one of those who can shift and manipulate multiple sub-genres to match his energy. With “A Surprise Birthday Party!” EP, Chalice takes on the current mainstream sound and jazzes it up with his natural Scorpio flair.

Stream it below: