If you know your Brooklyn history, you're probably familiar with Calvin "Klein" Bacote. A stick up kid-turned drug dealer, Bacote spent his earlier years taking an illegal route to success, one that crossed paths with Jay Z in 1989.
In an interview with Complex's Director of Content Strategy Joe La Puma, Bacote describes his history in the streets as well as his past relationship with Hov, which played an integral part in the rapper's opportunity to pursue music as a profession. As Bacote tells it, both he and Jay Z got caught up in an attempted murder charge in '89, one that Bacote took the weight for.
"I had just previously got acquitted for murder. I came home and caught the case with Jay Z," he says. "Jay Z was willing to take the charge in '89. You have to keep in mind, when Jay mentioned me on The Black Album, at that point and time, he never had nobody like myself that he looked up to that much."
Bacote's legacy is forever remembered on "Allure," where Jay Z raps, "I never felt more alive than riding shotgun/In Klein's green 5, until the cops pulled guns."
"If [Jay Z] takes this case, this case is going have him in jail for a long time. He's going to miss his moment, he's going to miss his opportunity," Bacote recounts. "Let me take my chance on taking the case, try to get him off the case, which we actually did. And here he is."
In recent years, Bacote has flipped the script and turned his efforts to preventing people from the street life instead of becoming participants. His organization, Guns Down Life Up, offers alternative programs for youth at risk of falling victim to a life he knows all too well. "I did a lot of things back in the past that was so devastating to a lot of people," Bacote admits. "To have to come back and try to let them see me do something different than what I've done before, that's a task in itself." Turning a negative into a positive, just like Hov.
Watch the full interview with Bacote above. His book Neighborhoods Under Siege: Memoirs Of A Brooklyn Don is available now on Amazon.