Eastside Crackhead: Can His Rap Help Him Escape The Streets?

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Born Luther Ridley, known widely as "Eastside Crackhead." Can he escape the streets?

[The Hard Life]

Inside the booth of a small recording studio in Brooklyn is a man rapping every day in his struggle to get a record deal.

For some people the story of "Eastside Crackhead," 40, is one they have heard many times before. Caught up in a life of selling and doing drugs, Eastside eventually became a homeless man in the streets of New York City where he made a name for himself rapping for money.  “Someone in jail told me about a funny sign he saw someone with while driving on the highway, I thought to myself when I get out I’m going to do that and get some money too," he says. "I would also rap for people while using my sign and it just worked people just started filming me uploading it on YouTube, random people and that’s how I starting buzzing on the Internet.”

What makes Eastside’s story special is not how his life took a turn for the worse but, the upside.  http://presentsthebest.tv/

Three years ago Eastside met Bigtime, owner of Presentsthebest.tv outside a night club in New York City. Now where most people saw a Crackhead begging for money Bigtime saw a man with talent and a heartfelt story he felt needed to be told.

Eastside over the years developed a cult following of fans who watched videos of him rapping in the streets on YouTube and World Star. Before even meeting Bigtime, Eastside’s videos were getting thousands of views. “My cousin showed me Eastside on YouTube, the same night we ran into him in the streets of New York City,” Said Bigtime about how he first heard of Eastside.

After careful consideration Bigtime decided that he would help Eastside move out of the streets, hone his rap skills and make Eastside’s dreams of becoming a major label rapper a reality.  Since then Bigtime has become good friends with Eastside. “I provide food and shelter for him, act as his mentor and manager,” says Bigtime.

Eastside has spent countless days in the booth of Live it Up Studios located at 2641 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, working on his songs trying to make a name for himself. He has already released several videos on World Star and YouTube, reaching over a million views collectively.

Eastside was born Luther Ridley November 30, 1974, in Queens General Hospital. He spent the first nine years of his life, living in South Jamaican Housing (40 Projects), a place he described as drug-infested. Between neglect from his mother and the lack of a father figure Eastside was "a bad ass little kid -- a terror,” as he recalls.

Rapping from a young age, Eastside listened to Kool G Rap, Rakim, & Big Daddy Kane, who influenced his life and music style.  After spending a few years in Mississippi at his aunt’s house, Eastside learned of the southern rap style and mixed it with New York style. This combination is sometimes seen in his lyrics.

When he came back to New York his mother had established herself as a prominent drug dealer going by the name of Queen B, in the crime world of South Jamaica Queens alongside Fat Cat, and The Supreme Team. In the following several years, his brother would also become a drug dealer, eventually taking over for his mother; and his sister began to sell weed.

“So I always wanted to be down, I wanted to follow in their footsteps,” recalls Eastside. Exposed to the world of drug dealing, Eastside began to also try to sell drugs on his own. Later on in life, drugs would be become prominent in his raps.  One of his most popular songs “Test Your Work” is about “Drugs” -- calling out the rappers who glorify dealing them, and known celebrities who battled with them publicly and privately.

From a young age Eastside has been in and out of jail, getting a one-to-three at the age of 16 and a four-and-a-half to-nine at 19.

When he came back home, at around 25, he began once again his dealing in the drug industry. A few years later, he would see his sister’s friend Gail, buying drugs from a friend and he offers her drugs for sex. “So, I just had 500 worth of crack on me, two grams of coke, and dope. So boom, I gets the cab, I always wanted her," he says, adding that they went to a hotel.

Eastside had only sold drugs; he had never tried them.  “So she’s on top of me, rolling a blunt putting crack in it. Curiosity killed the cat, I was rolling a regular blunt and I saw her do this so I said fuck it and put some crack in my blunt. I was 29 years old and it’s been on from ever since,” he says,  recalling the start of his addiction.

A few months later Eastside would meet his wife and get married. However, secretly his drug habit was already set in place.

“I got a job at Target. And pay day she meets me there but sometimes I make up an excuse cause I wanna go get high real quick," he says. "I end up staying outside for two days and call my wife when my money is gone. I even sold my wedding ring.”

His marriage began to fall apart and the birth of two children only made the situation rougher, after another five months in jail, his wife began divorce proceedings.

A few months later, Eastside would be kicked out oh his home by his wife and he began to take his drug habit and street dwelling to another level. “Basically the moral of the story is that I would love to get a record deal and take care of my kids, that really wasn’t me, it was the drugs. Cause my wife tells me to this day, you are funny and good if it wasn’t for drugs you would be the perfect man,” says Eastside.

Eastside says he's been working non-stop the last few years to turn his life around.



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