For those of you who’ve read How to Hustle & Win: Sex, Money, Murder Edition, you know how King Guru and I connected. (And for those of you who haven’t, where have you been?) We stunned the Game with the release of that book, then quickly followed it up with Underworld Zilla, a book with equal success, both of which are now being distributed by The Official Queen of Street Lit, Wahida Clark.
We continued building, writing and publishing top-quality books, growing our success (and our bank accounts), especially with his book Pretty Girls Love Bad Boys: An Inmate’s Guide to Getting Girls, which has been so successful, it’s now becoming a series, including a blog series for women who are in relationships with prisoners and block bleeders. And we have more on the way, too, but I won’t tell you all about that just yet. What I can say is we’ve been very busy creating new content for y’all, positioning ourselves for this takeover. But finally, as I’ve wanted to do for a while now, we’ve sorted out some time where we connect for an interview, so I can introduce to you further one of the hottest, rawest street lit authors in the Game: The Cell Block’s very own, King Guru.
What’s good, Guru? Why don’t you tell the people who you are and where you’re from?
I’m Guru, my pen name is King Guru. I’m from a neighborhood called Oak Park, in Sacramento, California.
What was life like growing up where you’re from?
Hmmm… I haven’t thought about my childhood in a while. I guess I’d say it was cool. I grew up as a latchkey kid. I had 4 brothers and a single mother who was always at work. So, me and my brothers were just out there.
What does “out there” mean?
Well, in the environment we were in, the whole city was like a playground. You can get into anything you want to by just living. We called it, “following the grind.” See… where I’m from there’s a prevalent underworld, so if you’re with the activities, you can just let the streets guide your experiences. As a young teen, all me and mines did was grind for clothes, straps and cars. Banging was part of all that, too. I’d say I had a pretty good upbringing.
What landed you in the Belly of the Beast? How much time do you got?I’m in prison for a murder. I was 18 years old and I made a horrible, life-altering mistake. That debacle got me life without the possibility of parole.
Any hope of getting out?
You know, my youngest son just asked me a similar question the other day. I don’t think I’m ever gonna forget it ’cause he was in a house full of his friends and he had to go into the next room to ask me this question. I used it as an opportunity to have a heart-to-heart with him. But, yeah, back to your question… Naw, bruh, LWOP means LWOP. However, Cali is going through a whole makeover of it’s justice system. The laws they’ve been passing under Governor Newsom are life-changing. They’re giving us a lot of hope; something California convicts never had. When I first came into the system, a life sentence meant just that. But things are changing, so I can’t sit here and tell you that I believe I’m gonna die in here.
Are you doing anything to prepare for a board hearing, if you’re ever given one?Man, I’m going crazy on all these programs these folks are offering! Real talk, I’ve been signing up and going to groups. I’m in college. I’ve done Defy Ventures, an entrepreneur program. And I’ve been staying clean. If and when these folks decide to give LWOPs a chance, I’m gonna be first in line!
College, that’s cool. What’re you taking?
I’m majoring in Behavioral Science. But all the extra shit like world history and philosophy is what’s opening my mind to another realm. I’m in love with higher education like I was when I loved the Game. Everybody around me can see it, too, ‘cause it’s adding to my glow. It’s just making me more well-rounded and it’s coming out in my writings.
I’m glad you mentioned your work, let’s talk about that. When did you start writing books?
Ahhh… Man, I guess I started writing about 18 years ago, but I didn’t finish anything. I remember when I was on the run, in them streets, my movements were limited so I started a file on my laptop. I would write short stories, but I never could finish ’em. Then, when I fell in Florida, I started writing in the SHU, but I never did anything with it.
I think the first project I finished was the original draft of my book HOW TO HUSTLE AND WIN: SEX, MONEY, MURDER EDITION. I started that book after a county jail visit with my oldest son. While I was fighting the case I’m in for now, he came to see me and I saw in what direction his life was heading. At the time, I could also see how my trial was gonna end. I knew I wasn’t going to be there for him in the physical, so I decided to write him a blueprint of the Game in which he was about to embark in. So, that’s what that book was. Like Niccolo Machiavelli wrote THE PRINCE with all the Game he’d learned, I wrote HOW TO HUSTLE AND WIN: SEX, MONEY, MURDER EDITION, with all the Game I’d learned.
It sounds like you really love your kids. How many do you have? Is it hard to be a father from prison?
Bruh, my kids are my life! I gotta live with the fact that I can’t be there for them in the physical. But I’ll never let my circumstances stop me from being a father. It was a problem for the first few years because I didn’t know how to separate the relationships I had with their mothers from the ones I had with them. See, I got 5 kids and 5 different baby mammas. That’s 5 different gatekeepers to 10 different hearts. Luckily, 4 out of 5 of them really fuck wit’ ya’ boy, so they raised my babies to love me. So, yeah, it’s hard, blood. But it’s worth it.
Do you mind me asking about the 1 out of the 5 you mentioned?
Umph… [pause] Baby’s gonna trip if I mention her name in an interview. Mike, you tryn’a get a nigga in trouble. [laughs] Naw, bruh, I was once an angry person. I had inner demons from growing up without a father and watching moms go through what she went through. Since I wasn’t right with myself, my toxicity flowed over, negatively impacting the people around me. So, according to her, she hid my daughter from me in order to shield her from the flames I was playing with. My ex has hit me on my tablet a few times, but it never lasts too long ‘cause we still got issues that haven’t been worked out. That’s my truth. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love my daughter. I still got my daughter’s name tatted on my rib cage.
That was deep. Thanks for sharing that.
It’s my truth.
Alright. So, what genres do you write?
Man, I get that question a lot. I got 5 books out. One is on how prisoners can file lawsuits, one is for inmates who wanna learn how to write fiction, I have a self-help for young goons, an urban novel and a book on building relationships with pen pals.
That’s a pretty wide range. Which ones best represent your passion for the craft?
I’m known as an urban book author, so UNDERWORLD ZILLA is where most people know me from. That book is the first in a series. I like those books because 80% of their content is based on true events. Trust and believe, most of the major scenes that are written in those books are something that really happened. So, the streets are connected to that series. I enjoyed writing those books because they gave me an avenue to display my artistic abilities.
Who are your inspirations?
My kids! Hands down, my seeds are the inspiration behind every single word I’ve ever written.
How would you describe your writing style?
Damn… I don’t know. I guess I’m just a natural storyteller. You ever seen the movie SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE? Every time the main character in that movie had to answer a question, he’d go to a memory in his mind of something that took place in his life. That’s how I write. I think of something and my mind will take me back to Sacramento, Chattanooga, Clearwater, or St. Croix…
What books have you written? What are they about?
OK… We got UNDERWORLD ZILLA. That’s a psychological thriller based on true events. That was my first urban novel. Then we got HOW TO HUSTLE AND WIN: SEX, MONEY, MURDER EDITION. This is a book on advice for young thugs in the Game. I think it’s a must-have for those who can’t let go of the streets. PRETTY GIRLS LOVE BAD BOYS is book on how prisoners can find and cultivate meaningful relationships with women on the streets. I also wrote RAW LAW FOR PRISONERS, which is a step-by-step guide on how inmates can file lawsuits against “them folks” when they get to violating our constitutional rights. Let me see… oh, yeah, I also wrote HOW TO WRITE URBAN BOOKS FOR MONEY AND FAME. That’s a book that all aspiring writers must have. In that project I broke down and explained the craft of writing books. It’s a book I wish I had when I first started writing.
What have you learned since writing your first book?
Bruh, I’ve learned so much, it’s brazy! My writing game has elevated dramatically. I’ve actually looked back at some shit I wrote a few years ago, and I felt embarrassed! [laughs] Right now, I got a celly from Nickerson Gardens who is reading my whole catalog. Whenever I show ’em a blog submission, or something new I’ve written, he keeps telling me how he can clearly see the growth in my writings. There’s a major difference between my earlier writings and the work I’m putting out now. I’ve studied words, on top of learning new tricks of the trade, making my words glow. Everything I’ve learned and use is in HOW TO WRITE URBAN BOOKS FOR MONEY AND FAME, and that’s why I’m so adamant about getting it into the hands of aspiring writers.
I know why you’re laughing, bro…[laughs] You caught the soft sale, huh? Man, this is my grind now. I’m pushing product all day, every day. But, yeah, when I first started, I didn’t have the grasp on this craft that I have today. On top of that, I have a distinctive voice when I write. And, no matter how good I get, I strive to keep that original voice.
What’re your writing goals?
I think I’ve found my niche, bruh. I love writing about relationships. I’ve got several books written for incarcerated men who want to find love. That PRETTY GIRLS LOVE BAD BOYS book has organically turned into a series. So, now that TCB has an official blog, I plan on being a major contributor.
So what can we expect from you on the blog scene?
I love that you asked that question. So, I got a prequel to the UNDERWORLD ZILLA series. The plan with that is to give it away for free via blogs. I’m on that, but I’m also super, stupid excited about be talking to the ladies, brosky! I plan on giving out relationship advice. And, I think the fact that I am an incarcerated man doing life in prison makes me the best man for the job. See, I’ve had my heart trampled on just many times as I’ve broken those of others. I know how men think and why we do the things we do. Through all of that, I’ve experienced a lot of growth, so I can be a conduit between women and the misunderstandings they tend to have with us. I am extremely confident that I’m gonna make a difference.
What’s the secret to your success?
You know, a lot of people tell me I have a gift. I don’t believe that. A gift is something someone gives you. However, certain doors would not have opened to me if I wouldn’t have ran into key holders. And, I have to admit that I’ve learned all my Game from people who have stomped the yard before me. I don’t believe my success is a “gift.” I think the secret to my success is my tenacity. I wanna say that the fact that I’ve gotten out of bed without an alarm clock, day after day, has everything to do with why I’m sitting here talking to you. It’s a culmination of all my hard work, dedication and determination. Prison offers men a choice of what they want to do with their time. Some people don’t get out of bed unless they have to eat or use the bathroom. I’ve seen men literally sleep their lives away. That’s not my program. I’m up every morning at 4:30 with this tablet in my hand. So, if I have to point out the reason behind my success, I’d say it’s my work ethic. Point blank!
What would you say to someone who wants to do what you do?
Read my book HOW TO WRITE URBAN BOOKS FOR MONEY AND FAME. Study the craft of writing. Don’t let haters dictate your moves. Dreams only come true when you work towards manifesting them. I have to quote one of the realest writers in the Game, Stone Ramsey. Stone once said in an interview that in order for someone to be able to write a raw urban novel they must have two things: Knowledge of the craft of writing and experience in the Game.
I believe those words to be true. I think all aspiring writers should be real with everyone they come in contact with because you never know who a key holder is to a room you’ll need to enter. Don’t be fake, be authentic!
What are your three favorite books?
#1, A HUSTLER’S WIFE. #2, the MOCKINGBIRD series. #3, CUJO by Stephen King.
What are you working on now? What is it about?
Right now, I’m kind of on a relationship-building tip. With shows like LOVE AND LOCKUP, I see the need to give my say on the subject. I like writing to guys about how they can be better men to the women in their lives. And I like writing to women about why it’s so important that they stay strong for us. But I’m also formulating an idea about a book on how to deal with the haters in your life. Something I’ve noticed is that everyone has to deal with a hater, in prison and on the streets. So I’ve been plotting on something in that area.
Describe a typical day for you.
Blood! I’m busy these days. I stay pushing. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t have time to do me! [laughs] I gotta get up at 4 a.m. just to get everything done. You know I’m doing the college thing on top of all the TCB business I’m tapped in with. By 6 a.m. they popping me out the cell ‘cause I’m a building porter, so I gotta pass out breakfast and lunch to the guys in the block. By 7:30 a.m. my tablet is going crazy! If I’m not chopping Game with you, I’m going back and forth with whoever hits me up. Emailing back and forth with people can take all day. But I try to also make time to work out every day. I don’t slow down till 8 or 9 p.m. Bruh, I’m on beast mode these days!
Any last words?
Hell yeah! To anyone who reads this interview, tap in with me! You can go to jpay.com and log into my email account and get at me. My name is Wilberto Belardo AI4548. Go to jpay and email ya boy! [laughs] I would love to receive some feedback from fans, or anyone who is interested in networking with me. I also wanna take this time to tell all my kids that I love ’em… Alize-Marie, Jose, Jamara, Dante and Dezy, man, I love y’all with all my heart!!!!
About the Author: Mike Enemigo is America’s #1 incarcerated author, with over 25 books published and many more on the way. He specializes in writing about prison and street-culture. To learn more about Mike and his books, including those by all of The Cell Block’s authors, visit thecellblock.net, where you can also follow his blog. Be sure to follow Mike and The Cell Block on social media at @mikenemigo and @thecellblockofficial.