“Still Paid In Full: The Gems Years Later”

“Still Paid In Full: The Gems Years Later”

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On this day of October 25th, 2002 the gem-stuffed classic directed by Charles Stone III and produced by Roc-A-Fella Films titled Paid In Full hit the streets. Based on the true story of Harlem?s dangerous Big 3 with Azie Faison, (portrayed in the movie as Ace) Richard Porter (portrayed in the movie as Mitch) and Alberto Geddis Martinez (portrayed in the movie as Alpo). The rest was history. I?m not really sure why today isn?t a national holiday either.

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The real story is believed to be:

Around the time Scarface came out, the drug game, more specifically the crack game, was huge and everyone wanted a piece of the pie. Richard was a hustler in all senses of the word. A hustler. His stash spot was the dry cleaners that Azie worked at and they were mutually connected to the stick-up kid: Alpo. AZ was fed up with being broke and a little luck, some chance and a well-dressed Dominican connect gave him his break into the life that Rich and ?Po were already a part of.

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Cautiously killing the game with a laid-back demeanor, A? was able to keep a lowkey profile on the streets for a long time. But in reality all three (Alpo, Richard and A?) were flourishing in Harlem and running the streets together.

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And big money makes people suspicious. Time passed, the trap was still jumpin? aka business was still booming but then described by AZ as ?one crazy night? where he was set up and shot up. After he almost losing his life A? went through a lot of self-realizations and self-evaluating. Outcome was, he had to step back. Now Alpo and Rich were tight after Richard came from prison in ?84 but after AZ left the streets? That only led to their relationship getting stronger. By ?87 they were all on their own paths doing their own thing. A was doing him, Alpo was maneuvering in DC, and Rich was still in the streets in Harlem. In 1990 while Richard?s family was already dealing with his little brother being kidnapped, fingers cut up-shipped out, and held for ransom they had to deal with Richard?s murder too.

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He was gunned down by his right hand man: Alpo. ?Po justified bodying his best friend with: ?It wasn?t personal. It was just business.? Then a hospital stint turned him into an even bigger savage than he already was. Plus linking with one of DC?s most famous gangsters- Wayne Perry just added to the fury. If you were getting it in the streets then you knew who they were and you knew they were coming for you with a trail of money and violence. But murders and bodies after murders and bodies eventually caught up with Alpo. So when he slipped up it was a wrap. One of Harlem?s most infamous weightpushers was able to finesse his way out of a life-sentence with a bunch of information and many details.. basically giving up ?some folks down in DC he did business with? aka telling on Wayne. Word on road is that Alpo was just recently released from prison.

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My summary really doesn?t do the AZ/Rich/Alpo story any justice though. You just have to swim thru the documentaries like I did.

But the way Stone added the big screen sprinkles and Hollywood script written by Matthew Cirulnick and Thulani Davis? Man oh man, boy oh boy it was something special. Paid In Full is the epitome of the word classic.

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The film showed the beauties and beasts of the street life. Everyone knows about the money, the women, fly gear, and nice cars that come with drug-dealing. Fewer people know of the dramatic, dark, trauma-filled side that comes with it. But Wood Harris, Mekhi Phifer, Cam?ron and the rest of the cast perfectly display all of the above on the big screen.

Paid In Full is narrated by the main character: Ace. That in itself adds a unique spin to the movie, especially considering it?s damn near the rise-and-fall?-and rise again of Ace?s life. So to watch the classic through your own eyes while A narrates it is a special experience in itself. You get to feel however you feel about a particular scene or situation then in the same instance get to hear Ace?s input on them all.

One of my favorite scenes has been meme?d, gif?d and imitated time after time. After Sonny gets kidnapped, Mitch and Ace have a deep conversation. Well more like Mitch venting and Ace listening but nonetheless it?s one of the more powerful, more emotional scenes and acted out masterfully. ?Any nigga that ever looked at me wrong, owes me money, or ever said some jealous bullshit about me is fuckin? dead.? When Mitch said those words you felt it. Period. To me and most of the masses this is one of the moments in Paid In Full that solidifies it as a classic.

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A lesson every single time someone talks. Gems spilled in every solitary scene. Not any regular-degular gems either. It?s the quality gems. The gems that hold weight on everyday basis still to this day.

?No ribs, no rice, no champagne, you don?t eat nothin?.? = Pay your debts.

Rico takes away Mitch?s Chinese food one night after they make a bet on a paperbag basketball shot and Mitch doesn?t pay him right then and there. Bottom line: pay what you owe.

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?Cleanliness is next to godliness.? = Cleanliness is next to godliness.

In the movie, Mitch is perceived as one of his little brother Sonny?s only role models. With that comes great responsibility. Sonny looks up to Mitch and Mitch is always trying to make sure that his brother stays on the right track. Sonny gets taught the tricks of the trade of having the clean gear because well..cleanliness is next to godliness. If you look good and smell good then you feel good.

?10 Years/10 Days Mentality? = You can get it, you just gotta go get it.

The relationship that Mitch and Ace have in the film is crazy. They just click, which is crazy considering one comes from the street life and one comes from working in a Laundromat. But in any case, Money Mitch always was the one with more. One day Mitch pulls up in something new, Ace admires it and says they?re going to have matching ones in 10 years. Mitch responds with: ?10 years? I?m thinking more like 10 days.? Basically telling Ace, get your head right and boss up. If you could have it in 10 years then you could have it 10 days you just have to hustle and get to it.

?Stay cool like how you be cool.? = You can be cool being yourself so just be yourself.

Classic. Just classic. Stay cool like how you be cool. Every trend gets killed. Every fad gets oversaturated. After a while everything is like everything else and it?s boring. Originality hard to come by. Cool, original people? Even harder to come by. Ace was always lowkey, always smooth, always cool, always himself. So in a brief cameo, Nore reminds Ace to stay cool like how he?s cool. Now I?m reminding you to stay cool exactly how you be cool.

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?Live and maintain.? = Do your thing, handle your business, leave the extra shit alone, have your fun and stay afloat.

Rico loved the attention but when you living good, you don?t really need nor should you really want the attention.

?Everybody eats b.? = The whole team shall flourish.

Greed is also a humongous x-factor in the movie. It?s everywhere. But you know Ace with his cool, calm and collected demeanor tries to instill the mentality ?Everybody eats b.? The real ones get it. When it?s not your turn, it?s not your turn. You never hate tho? you just supposed to keep working and wait for your turn or make it your turn but you never hate. If your team is assembled properly then once one person starts eating/flourishing then it eventually starts a domino effect for the rest of the team. Everybody is going to eat b, just don?t get greedy.

?Calvin/Ace?s relationship..Ice/Mitch?s relationship? = Mixing your family with your money will always be a bad idea.

Like BIG said ?this rule is so underrated/Keep your family and business completely separated.? Two of the main conflicts in Paid In Full are Ace?s near death experience and Sonny?s kidnapping and eventual murder. Both incidents involve family and money. Calvin is Ace?s sister?s boyfriend (making them family kinda sorta but the message still remains) and also happens to be in the drug game. Long story short, Calvin gets bagged and when he comes home Ace puts him on, but Calvin?s thinks he deserves a bigger role. Jealousy and envy lead to Calvin setting up Ace almost taking his life. Another case that shows the problems money brings within family is with Ice, Mitch and Sonny. Ice was the money-hungry backslash junkie backslash envious Uncle to Mitch and his little brother. The whole movie Ice and Mitch clash and bump heads because you have Mitch who?s been handling his own for him and his during his whole life and you have Ice ? a grown man living off his sister addicted to drugs. Out of mostly spite and hate towards Mitch, Sonny gets kidnapped for ransom. A plan setup by his own: Uncle Ice and his comrade Tommy. When their wants aren?t met they eventually end up killing him. Lesson here is: keep your kinfolk and currency separate, always.

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?After Mitch comes back from prison, Ace helps him get back on his feet.? = Reward people for their loyalty.

Not everyone is going to be loyal to you. Especially when you?re in the streets. So when you come across genuine, loyal people you reward them, just like how Ace rewarded Mitch. Ace was never disloyal to Mitch, it was always love. So when Mitch got bagged, did his time and came back with his chips down Ace was their to put him on his feet right away. Mitch came home to a new whip and was up in the drug world again. If someone shows you their loyalty, it?s only right you show them your appreciation.

?This life. This game. There ain?t no love in it. It don?t love you back.?= You can love the streets. Be as loyal to the streets as much as you want. But the streets will never love you back.

Ain?t no love in the heart of the city. Ain?t no love in the streets period. Ace comes to this realization after almost getting killed. A reinforcement of that realization comes when Rico kills Mitch. Ace figured out early that there?s no love in the streets, that?s why he was always on the low, always trying to stay out of the light. But Mitch was on the other end of the spectrum. He would compare the love ballplayers get to the love drug-dealers get. You have to understand that the street life is all he knows though. Yes, he does have the money already. Yes, he could leave the game. But how could he stop doing the only thing he knows how to do? Mitch loved the streets so much that he couldn?t leave them and all they ended up doing was give him money, hood fame, and a casket.

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?Half these niggas wanna be the man just ?cause.? = Don?t do it for the image.

Ironically enough, the quote ?half these niggas wanna be the man just ?cause.? comes from Rico. Mr. I Love The Attention himself. Yet and still, it?s a gem. Whatever you do should be done out of love, out of passion, things along those lines. You shouldn?t be doing whatever it is that you?re doing just to appeal to other people. Why do it for the image when you can do it for the culture?

No matter how you chop it up.. Paid In Full is a undeniable, cold, cult-classic. Charles Stone III and Roc-A-Fella Films connected for a gem-filled street tale. An inspiration for a plethora of MP3s in your computer. An inspiration for many of the (fake) trappers that make your hotline bling whenever the new pack comes in. A theatric yet authentic version of how money and greed are superpowers of the world. An inspiration for anyone with a hunger for more. I?ll even call it a manual for life for some. 93 minutes of real life lessons. A staple in the Netflix archives. Today in 2015 anywhere in the culture you can see direct references to the movie on a daily basis. From how people talk, to what they wear, to how they think and move mentally. For better or worse, that lifestyle was and still is a blueprint for a lot of people. Ace (Wood Harris), Mitch (Mekhi Phiefer) and Rico (Cam?ron) all deliver their roles in ways only they could while theatrically and authentically showing how the three keys of life in: money, power and respect can intertwine with jealousy, greed and envy and fill any paradise with paranoia.

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