Shakim Bio is a street general from Queens who has been buried in the belly of the beast for the last twenty years. But he hasn’t let that stop him from being recognized and having his voice heard. From the streets to the penitentiaries and back again Shakim Bio has represented to the fullest and shows what he is about and now instead of shooting guns he is spraying ink. His first book was Love, Hell or Right, which we profiled in an interview with him on Gorilla Convict and now Shakim Bio is back again to let us know about his latest release The Last Illest a book that explores hip-hop and street life from the perspective of someone who was there in the midst of it all. This book gives the real. It’s not a hood novel or made up story, The Last Illest is the truth. One man’s journey from the streets to prison to enlightenment. But don’t let us tell it, let Shakim Bio. Here it is the Gorilla Convict exclusive-
What is your new book about?
The Mega Jon Christ- The Last Illest is the first official street-hop novel. It is based on Shakim Bio, the street general and my love for the culture of hip-hop. My insight… I was once obsessed with spitting (rapping), the art of being a lyrical wordsmith. I wanted to be an emcee but I got caught up with the street shit and survival. I fell victim to that shit when I should have remained focused to music but it is what it is. Overall I tell a story of how easy it is to lose focus. I want readers to feel my realness and be inspired to never give up their dreams.
What are your credentials to write on the subject?
I was there standing at the park jams in the mid to late 70s before hip-hop was on wax or had radio play. I remember the pure raw elements before the cut, watered down version, the mainstream shit. I lived that shit (raw version). I was part of local hip-hop acts. Battling heads and stood in ciphers. Coming from Queens I seen some of the illest shit. I remember clearly when emcees were petrified of LL Cool J. He used to come up to high schools looking for battles back in the days and heads use to skip class and leave out the back door early. I remember when LL was semi-ducking an emcee from Laurelton (Queens) named Mikey D. I remember when Mr. Magic was on 105.9 WHBI, the Awesome two, the Hank Love show and the world famous Supreme Team. You had to stay up to 1 a.m. in the morning to catch that shit, tape that shit and send the tape down south like taking drugs outta town. The reaction was crazy. That’s where I’m from.
Is the book more street or hip-hop? Explain.
It’s both, street and hip-hop. So I put it as Street Hop. Street Hop is a movement that was birthed by DJ Premier. He originated that word. Nas manifested it. Nas made a joint called Made U Look where he spit, “this ain’t rapping/this is street hop.” My shit is street, but street hop. I was street oriented, knee deep in the streets, true story. So I brought that street feel to explain my grind and love for the hip-hop culture. I was a street dude who made moves but at the same time I got busy on the mic.
I read a lot of books, that’s what I do. I study the game and market. Prodigy’s novel was a good joint. It was titled My Infamous Life. I read it and saw some of the same elements in a few aspects, but Jay-Z’s Decoded is more or less on the same level, but mine is more street and detailed. What’s so ill is I starting penning my novel in 2003. I leaked out some lost chapters in 04-05 to several heads from the industry but my novel was first copyrighted in 2006. Go and check, it’s listed in the Library of Congress in DC and I have the registration certificate to show and prove. I’m not saying Jay took, stole or ran with my idea or move cause ill dudes can think alike. Him being who he is and the level he is on, it was only right that he brought an ill novel to the table, but mine was first. It just wasn’t out before his. He has way greater resources but through it all mine is the illest hands down.
Why did you write a book like The Last Illest?
Why not? I had to out think the thinkers of today and yesterday to create an avenue for the future. I produced the first official street hop novel. This novel was way overdue. I pushed it back like 100 times. I take you to the grimy streets of Queens, NY, outta state, in and out of jails, around the most creative dudes in the game today to the bowels of the fed prison system. I take you where XXL, Hip-Hop Weekly, Don Diva and other mags can’t go. I’m right there. When Jay-Z and Nas was going at it lyrically real dudes in prison was listening too, taking sides, sharpening ups weapons and going at it. Like the streets are watching, the prisons are listening. Jay-Z and Nas are two great lyricists, their beef created a lot of drama but overall it went down as one of the greatest emcee battles in history. I just told the side you didn’t know about, smell me?
I also see that you darken out names in the book. Why did you do that?
To protect the guilty, that’s why. I want my story to stay as real as it is. I can’t change names of events, certain things just wasn’t spoken on at all. So instead of taking away from its truth and rawness I did a freedom of information act move. I darken out the names of the guilty.
I notice that you mentioned association with numerous celebrities such as Irv Gotti of Murder Inc., Hype Williams and the FUBU cats, what’s your relationship with them now?
My manz is still my manz, regardless to who or what. They know who I am very well no doubt. We went two different paths, their path led them to where they are at and mine led me to where I am at, but it’s not over. I will be there soon, where they at. We will meet up at the round table again. I will be there soon. Salutes to my dudes.
Love, Hell or Right which is the very first God and Earth love story in print, yeah, I did that too. I put that story out in March 2012. It’s taking a minute for heads to catch on to it. I’m moving too fast in a slow thinking crowd. Everybody is too attached to that shoot ’em up bang bang far from reality stuff. Raekwon the Chef from Wu Tan showed me love and support. Superstar singer Alicia Keys even got a copy of the novel. Shit is hot. Once I create this buzz everyone will be checking for me. The only thing slow about me is going to be my fall from the top. I do a monthly column titled S.H.A.K.I.M.’s Hood (Stop, holla and keep it moving) on gorillaconvict.com. I touch on all levels and aspects. Some serious, some humorous, but overall too real. I did apiece called Popping Shit for Urban Exposure magazine that supposed to be coming out. It’s a lost gem. I got The Tinard from Hollis, Queens Story, who robbed, extorted and dug in so many pockets that he is the number one suspect in just about everything. That story is titled, Does this sound familiar? Heads, stomachs are going to be hurting from that one, shits so funny. Then I got The Last Illest Part 2 coming. Right now I’m contributing a story to Gorilla Convict Publications’ Prison Stories II, my chapter in there is called Target Practice about some ill drama that popped off while I was in USP Lompoc in 2001. I am spraying ink crazy right now.
Tell us about your sentence and where you are at now in your appeals?
I started out with a federal sentence of 480 months, which is 40 years for all of you who can’t add fast. I stayed fighting, even at times when I was wilding out on some other shit I remained at war for my ultimate freedom. I lost all my appeals and 2255, 2244 (b)(3)’s. I did all that shit, started learning how to read and understand case issues. The language is crazy. I got love from the crack law amendment 706. I got 100 months off, it was a good look. That was 2008, and then in 2011 the crack law dealing with the 18 to 1 ratio came out. It went from 100 to 1 to 18 to 1. It became retroactive Nov 1, 2011. I put my 3582 (c)(2) in Oct 1, 2012. I waited instead of putting it right in. I got love off of that on Nov 20, 2012. Right now I’m like three years and some odd months short. I got 19 years in so these devils going to get like 22 1/2 years out of me. I also got a situation in Ohio that my codee Al Monday just got reversed September 10, 2012. So a fella will be home on those bricks in a few years. I stood tall without an end and still standing tall. Shout outs to all real dudes, shoot outs and gun shots to the weak.
Constant elevation. I’m striving to make moves that make differences. Staying productive, creative and positive. Everything I’m involved in. I’m striving to master that, get money, leaving my mark and move on to the next move. I’m trying to master the whole board.
Give us a little of your journey through the prison system?
I started out at USP Terra Haute, did five years and some change there and got shipped to USP Marion Supermax. I did a very short vacation there and went out west to USP Lompoc, did two years there. Opened up USP Lee County, did three and a half years there. Did two years at USP Big Sandy, five and a half at USP Coleman. Now I’m back out west at USP Atwater. No mediums, all max feds penitentiaries. Time for me to touch those streets and live my life.
Anything else before we end this?
Definitely. Cop the very first official street-hop novel, The Last Illest by Shakim Bio on Mikahs 7 Publishing. Shit is real so support the realness. Big shout out to all my real ones in the field and behind these enemy lines. Peace to Gods and Earths. All true hip-hoppers in all elements. Big up gunman friend dem, Far Rock. Everywhere I stepped foot in or where my book can reach. I will also release Love, Hell or Right and The last Illest in e-book format. So there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a copy. One love to my Mikahs 7 fam and supporters, shout out to Gorilla Convict!!! One.