When people think of East coast gangsters, they think of New York City, but at gorillaconvict.com we are here to tell you that it’s popping off in the Garden State also. That’s right, we are talking about New Jersey, and to be more specific- Camden. Thomas Freeman, Jr. has taken it upon himself to chronicle some New Jersey gangster stories. First he wrote a book called The Organization, and then he took it to the next level and wrote, directed and produced a street DVD, Live 2 Tell: The Lucas Torres Story. After hearing about a corrupt mayor and a massive drug ring in Camden, Freeman gravitated toward the city and has now written several pieces in F.E.D.S., AS IS and other street and hip-hop publications on the Jersey crimescape. Live 2 Tell is just his latest effort and entry into the street DVD game. Gorilla Convict got with him to see what’s up.
What made you decide to get into writing about urban gangsters?
A friend of mine told me that the mayor of Camden was selling drugs. I really didn’t believe him at the time, but it did sound interesting especially since both my parents and most of my family was from Camden. A few years later the story broke in the newspaper and there was a major indictment in Camden and the mayor was caught up in it. I thought the story was something you saw in the movies, so I began saving the newspapers about the case and put together an outline. I tried to get someone to write a movie script, but I really didn’t know who to turn to. I reached out to the people involved in the case, but I got no responses, so I sat on the information. In 2007, while riding the train I read an urban fiction book called Dutch and it hit me that I could turn my outline into a book. Since I didn’t have direct access to anybody from the case I changed and added some details and the following year I released “The Organization” my remixed account of the case in Camden that my friend had told me about almost 10 years prior.
When the book came out it was a hit in Camden. Eventually Lucas Torres, who the book was loosely based on, got a hold of the book and then got in contact with me. He said he wanted to get together and tell his real story. I suggested a DVD and we started working on Live 2 Tell: The Lucas Torres Story and also a story for F.E.D.S Magazine.
What is live 2 tell about?
Live 2 Tell is the story of Lucas Torres a street level hustler who rose to kingpin status, became a millionaire and was shot 32 times but lived to tell his story.
How did you learn the filmmaking process?
I had a small record label and I wanted to learn how to shoot my own videos, so I took a few classes at New York Film Academy in 2004. I never did shoot any videos, but when we decided to shoot Live 2 Tell, I was already familiar with the process. The rest I learned on the job!
What is up with your book the organization?
The Organization, although fiction, was close enough to Lucas’s real life that everybody in Camden knew who it was about but the love story, and all the background information I made up and used other stories from the same city and era.
My second book “Sons of Sin” was started in outline form at the same time as The Organization. It was also based on a real case from Camden “Sons of Malcolm X”. After years of trying I finally got in touch with Jose Perez who was involved with that case. I was trying to write his story for a magazine, but he wanted to write a book similar to The Organization, a fictionalized version of his case. My third book Her Little Secret was the first book that had no real life parallel it was straight from my imagination. In addition to these three books I have a sequel to Sons of Sin and I’ve written for various print and online magazines including F.E.D.S and AS IS magazines. I wrote a movie script for Live 2 Tell, while working on the documentary. Currently I’m working on a dock-series called “Hip-hop’s Greta Migration”.
What makes Lucas Torres’ story so compelling?
Being shot 32 times and surviving. That’s a miracle in itself.
Where does the organization rank in the hierarchy of urban drug dealing crews?
Lucas was getting 100 kilos at a time. There was at least three other people in the car who were getting just as much. Camden is nine square miles and has a population around 80,000. The amount of drugs being sold by this crew in such a small area was unparalleled.
What else are you working on?
A screenplay for my third book Her little Secret and a dock-series called “Hip-Hop’s Great Migration”. The series will detail the history of hip-hop in different locations. The first episode is “Can’t Forget New Jersey” and it is about 75% finished. I also recently completed a cover story for AS IS Anniversary issue about Weatherly and Anthony Stutson, which should be on newsstands in September.
Who are the most notorious and infamous urban gangsters in your opinion?
Akbar Pray, Rick Ross and Philly’s Black Mafia. The size of their operations and the fact that they didn’t snitch puts them at the top of the list for me.
What do you think of what is being called the street book or DVD genre?
I love it. It’s how I got my start and I think it provides education and entertainment. I think they can be a used as a cautionary tale. The game is a bit saturated now, so you have to be creative in finding new ways to tell these stories.
With magazines like don diva, as is and feds, the street DVDs like yours and BET’s American Gangster series what do you think the future holds for these types of stories?
I think they provide a platform for people like you and me to share stories of the underworld. It can take someone who has no knowledge of this kind of lifestyle and put them in the center of the action, without actually putting them in harm’s way.
If you’re reading these stories you should pay attention to how they end because it’s usually one of two ways. Learn from other peoples mistakes. I would also like to send a special shootout to my father, my partner Jose Perez (Slick), my bro T-Money hold your heads it’s almost over for all three of you! And welcome home to my boy Life! Thanks to Gorilla Convict for the opportunity.
Click on the links below to read – Drug Lord Tells of Lavish Lifestyle, Cheating Death and Informant: Rivera Failed to Return Drug Dealers’ Cash Jose Luis “J.r.” Rivera Held it for Safekeeping, Then Kept it, said a Witness in his Drug-Conspiracy Trial in Camden