Paid In Full: The AZ, Alpo & Rich Porter Story
The Paid In Full AZ Alpo Rich Porter Story
‘I never prayed to God/
I prayed to Gotti/
That’s right its wicked/
That’s life I live it/
Ain’t asking for forgiveness for my sins…’
(Jay-Z: ‘D’Evils’: Reasonable Doubt: 1996)
We make an overdue return to the Streets as we visit the legendary story of 80s Harlem Drug Dealers ‘AZ’, ‘Alpo’ and ‘Rich Porter’.
The story formed the basis for the Film ‘Paid In Full’ and showed how 3 young Men’s turn to drug dealing in the 80s influenced Hip Hop Culture today.
The 80s drug Culture marked a shift in Harlem and perhaps African-American Consciousness from the positive Cultural explorations of the Harlem Renaissance to the pre-occupations and consequences of a vibrant but catastrophic Crack Economy.
Harlem had intially started as a Haven for former Slaves from the South, leading to a cultural explosion in the form of the Harlem Renaissance.
However, things changed as the Hustler era dawned with the rise of Bumpy Johnson, Pee Wee Kirkland, Nicky Barnes and Frank Lucas amongst others.
With the imprisonment and death of the first wave of Hustlers like Nicky Barnes, the ‘Crack Era’ arrived.
This transition paved the way for ‘AZ’, ‘Alpo’ and ‘Rich Porter’ to do their thing starting with dealing in Heroin, Cocaine and finally Crack.
The Harlem Crack Era
Crack hit like a Hurricane, and the above lines from Jay-Z’s ‘D’Evils’ basically sum up the mind-state it created amongst the youth.
The story told in Paid In Full of how 3 young men barely in their 20s became Millionaires and ‘Role Models’ in their community is indeed one of the best illustrations of the tragedy of the times.
In the end, it resulted in friend killing friend, AZ almost losing his life during a robbery by another disgruntled dealer, and with Alpo doing major Prison time whilst allegedly ‘snitching’ to get time shaved off his sentence.
In addition, Rich Porter’s younger brother Donnel, an innocent Pre-Adolescent Boy was murdered for ransom by his own Uncle, who out of jealousy, wanted a share of Rich Porter’s ‘Cake’.
After surviving being shot at point-blank range, AZ chose to leave the game, and he’s become a remorseful Street Elder, authoring books and making music about his experience in a bid to steer the youth away from the toxic culture of drug dealing.
After all was said and done the Paid In Full AZ, Alpo, Rich Porter story can only be described as a tragedy.
Into the fray, entered Hip Hop, born out of the angst of the era, and a reflection of the times.
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5’s bold lyrics.: ‘Broken glass everywhere!!!‘ from 1982’s ‘The Message’ were a testament to the Crack pipes littering the Apartment Blocks and neighbourhood at the time.
Puff Daddy would sample it in the 90s for ‘Cant Nobody Hold Me Down’, a very blinged out version compared to the original which was more socially conscious.
This in itself would mark the beginning of a trend to a more Bling driven and fantasy Thug Culture that permeates Hip Hop today, and which has progressively distanced the audience from the true realities of the Block.
In the party atmosphere its been forgotten that the drug game is ‘Real Like Steel’, but this classic FEDS Magazine Interview Alpo did in Prison as well as AZ’s FEDS Magazine Audio Phone Interview about his experiences in the game with Alpo and Rich Porter will always bring home the reality of the treachery of the drug game.
This comes from people actually involved and not Rappers either exaggerating their involvement or just plain fabricating it.
The AZ, Alpo and Rich Porter story continues to fascinate Hip Hop culture, and since then other Players of the 80s era like Kevin Chiles have come out to offer their views on the saga including allegations made by Kevin Chiles that AZ acted as a Police Informant in a case against him.
Alpo has also since been released from Prison and his influence on the Culture due to his reputation in the 80s continues to be felt.
In the final analysis, AZ, Alpo and Rich Porter’s story is a tragedy that Hip Hop can learn from.
Nevertheless, Rich Porter’s legend continues to live on.
Check out the Game Over Documentary below for the street rendition of one of Hip Hop’s most revered street stories.