Supreme Team | American Gangster from Queens

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(sorrowful piano) – Tens of billions of dollars have been made selling
the death and destruction of gangster rap music. And while we think of
the West Coast mostly when we think of gangster rap, it was also born in New York City. Especially Southeast Queens, the home of more hip hop icons than any place in America. From Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J, Russell Simmons’ Def Jam Records, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, the founders of FUBU clothing, Iconic video director Hype Williams; they all hail from the same little corner of Queens. And at the center of
Queens hip hop history is a man called Supreme. Kenneth McGriff got
his street name Supreme from his involvement with the Five Percenter movement. The Five Percenter’s broke off from the Nation of Islam in the 1950’s, They came to dominate the New York State prison system among black inmates. So when young Ken McGriff started working the
streets of Jamaica, Queens, It was only natural that he would end up running with the Nation of Gods and Earths as they called themselves. The Five Percenters have a penchant for grandiose names as they consider their members to all be Gods. And young Kenneth McGriff was christened as Supreme. So in the early 80s McGriff rounded up some other young Five Percenters in Jamaica, Queens to take advantage of the exploding cocaine business, carving out a lucrative
street level business composed of numerous teenage workers who sold crack by the nickel and dime. – [Voiceover] Crack has become America’s drug of choice. – A potent, inexpensive highly addictive form of cocaine. – It is an uncontrolled fire. – It became known as the Supreme Team. And their leader Kenneth McGriff could soon be seen riding
the streets of Queens in a special bulletproof Mercedes Benz. To really understand Supreme and the Supreme Team you have to understand Jamaica, Queens. In the 2000 census Queens was the only major county in the entire United States where black household income, (mumbling), was higher than white household income. But the neighborhood of South Jamaica where Supreme was from, was the bad part of Southeast Queens, where the projects were at, where the poor people lived. – Cops on the run, criminals running from them. It’s just another Sunday in South Jamaica. The police ran a check on this car, it came up a 16, a stolen vehicle. A man tried to take the car in front of six cops, the cops won. But in this part of Queens the cops don’t always win. – This area, mostly drugs
probably from what I see. But you have a little bit of everything: robbery, burglary, and just as you saw, stolen cars. – [News Reporter] How bad is this place? – I’d say it’s bad. – So when the crack cocaine epidemic hit in ’84, spots like Guy Brewer Boulevard and the Baisley Projects became gold mines for the Supreme Team and other dealers. Black and white middle class buyers from the surrounding areas swarmed South Jamaica looking to buy drugs. The biggest dealer in South Jamaica in the early 80s was Lorenzo “Fat Cat” Nichols. Now Fat Cat was a solid working class kid with a nurse’s aid for a mother and a professional plumber for a father. Nichols had the connection for lots and lots of cocaine supposedly from his contacts with the Italian Mafia, and he was supplying the Supreme Team in the early 80s. At the same time, hip hop was slowly bubbling up into the pop culture. And right next door to
Kenneth Supreme McGriff in South Jamaica was Hollis, Queens, home of the first big crossover rap group Run-D.M.C. And probably the single
most important person in hip hop history, Russell Simmons, who was the brother of Run from Run-D.M.C. He was launching his Def Jam Records from the home base of Hollis, and right around the corner from them, was the soon to be mega star LL Cool J. From the beginning the Supreme Team and other Queens drug dealers were hobnobbing with these soon to be mega stars. Paying for concert performances, and supplying some of them with drugs. Whether for personal use or for sale. Run-D.M.C.’s deejay, Jam Master Jay, even married the sister
of James Wall Corley, who was part of the
same drug dealing circle as Supreme and Fat Cat Nichols. In ’85, Fat Cat Nichols was indicted and locked up for drug conspiracy. And you could see hip
hop Founding Father’s Kurtis Blow and Busy Bee up on stage with Supreme and his crew for Fat Cat’s going away party. – I want to make a special dedication, to my man and brother, who ain’t with us right now, the police have locked him up. Fat Cat! (crowd cheers) Fat Cat, Fat Cat, Fat Cat! – In 1987 the Supreme
Team was at its peak, grossing up to supposedly $200,000 in a single day. Then they were hit with an indictment. Supreme McGriff, somehow managed to escape with a relatively light 10 year sentence. In his absence, nephew
Gerald Prince Miller took over the Supreme Team and things took a violent turn. The Feds claim the Supreme Team was responsible for eight
murders in 1987 alone. Though Supreme was never
charged with any of those. Gerald Prince Miller his nephew was himself sent away for a
short stretch in late ’87. With both Supreme and
Prince off the streets the Supreme Team was out of business for the time being. While the Supreme Team was in a sort of, hiatus, an event occurred in
their old South-side turf that would mark the end of the Golden Age of crack dealing in Queens and America. – A Queens Grand Jury is
going to convene tomorrow to consider the case
against four young men accused of executing
rookie cop Edward Byrne. He was gunned down while guarding a witness in a drug case. It happened in Jamaica, Queens, the same neighborhood where three of the of
four suspects grew up. – Rookie police officer Ed Byrne who was guarding the home of a witness in an upcoming drug trial that included Fat Cat
Nichols’ chief lieutenant, still on the streets, a
man named Pappy Mason, was assassinated by members of Mason’s Bebos Gang. – I said at my son’s wake, our streets could end up being as lowest as the streets of Bogota and Beirut, Individually we cannot
take on the drug dealers, they are an army, they are a massive army. – Welcome to the Forties Project. Two of the men accused of shooting police officer Ed Byrne grew up here. Some people call it
the largest crack house in the city. It’s five blocks of
projects, drugs and crime. It’s a place that even frightens cops. – I get scared, but I have to do my job as a police officer. – There’s big battle raging in these streets of Jamaica, Queens. On one side the largest police force in the country. On the other side, drug dealers, armed to the teeth. and with untold wealth. Many people in the
neighborhood are afraid. – We need an army, a big army. – In the aftermath of Byrne’s murder the New York Police Department swarmed the streets of the rotten apple, especially in South Jamaica. And when Prince Miller go out in ’89 and tried to put the
old team back together, his days were numbered. Prince and others were eventually charged with luring four Colombian
cocaine suppliers to the Baisley Public Housing Projects where they killed them
and took their cocaine. But their bodies were never found. While the Supreme Team and the entire Jamaica drug scene was being decimated by law enforcement, Kenneth Supreme McGriff was safely tucked away in federal prison serving a relatively
light 12 year sentence for drug conspiracy, which immunized him
from any of the trouble that his nephew and old
crew got themselves into. Finally, out on parole in ’93 Supreme found the streets of New York in South Jamaica very different from the days he went away in ’87. The Golden Age of selling drugs was coming to an end. Most of the big players from the 80s were either dead or locked up, but a new hustle had sprung up in Southeast Queens, one that was making young
guys even more money than drugs did in the 80s. It was called hip hop. Supreme’s old associate, Russell Simmons’ fledgling record label Def Jam, along with his
clothing line Phat Farm was now worth hundreds
of millions of dollars. Local rappers Run-D.M.C. had become global icons, LL Cool J was a budding movie star, FUBU clothing, started by two guys from Hollis, Queens, was approaching a
billion dollars in sales. The pop culture styles
of Southeast Queens, a culture that Supreme had helped in some small way to create, had spread across America and the world and was generating tens of billions in profit. Supreme wanted in. He quickly latched on to Murder Inc. Records CEO Irv Gotti, another South Jamaican native who was an up and comer
in the rap business. Supreme and Irving Gotti Lorenzo, needed each other, Irv
Gotti got street cred from connecting with Supreme and Supreme got entry into the entertainment business. Murder Inc.’s top artist, Ja Rule, scored a string of hits starting in ’99, and Supreme was along for the ride. But in 2000 Supreme found himself mediating a beef between yet another local Jamaica rapper, future mega star 50 Cent, who had been discovered by Run-D.M.C.’s deejay, Jam Master Jay. 50 Cent, probably just to make a name for himself, instigated the beef when he took credit for Ja Rule’s chain getting snatched, which Supreme claims was a lie, but either way, not long after that song Curtis 50 Cent Jackson was shot nine times in front of his grandmother’s house in South Jamaica. Word on the street was Supreme did it. But a man named Darryl “Hommo” Baum probably was the culprit, and Lil Kim’s one time boyfriend, Damion “World” Hardy, who was a Brooklyn kingpin, was eventually convicted of having bombed, killed in retaliation for yet another hit. Baum had once been Mike Tyson’s body guard and personal friend and Tyson supposedly put his own $50,000 hit out on World Hardy, and his brother Wise for killing Baum. New York, rap and hip hop and murder was intertwined right from the start. So after recovering from his gunshots 50 Cent used his notoriety to explode onto the scene, becoming the top selling rapper of the early 2000s. Meanwhile another piece
of Queens’ drug violence would finally seal Supreme’s fate. McGriff’s old buddy from
the Supreme Team days, a guy named Black Just,
had been shot and killed, by sometimes rapper and well known Queens drug dealer, a guy named E-Money Bags, right in front of Supreme’s own eyes. He was very upset to say the least about witnessing one of his oldest friends being murdered right in front of him. In 2001, Supreme took revenge by hiring a hitman to kill E-Money Bags, and unbelievably, having his underlings video tape the hit. In ’02, Queens legend Jam Master Jay was murdered in his studio by unknown assailants. Supreme was even a suspect in that case. He supposedly wanted revenge for Jam Master Jay signing 50 Cent. But to this day, no one
has ever been charged in Jam Master Jay’s murder. Meanwhile, Supreme’s ventures in the entertainment business weren’t bearing much fruit. All Supreme had managed
to produce for himself entertainment wise was a low budget straight to DVD movie
called Crime Partners which failed to make Griff a real player in the entertainment world. So, according to the DEA, Supreme had returned to the drug business, mainly running heroin to the Baltimore, Maryland area. After raiding several stash spots, the Feds took Supreme into custody and their prized piece of
evidence was the video tape of E-Money Bags’ murder, which had been left laying around in one of the stash spots. Irv Gotti and Murder
Inc. were soon swept up by the Federal probe, and Irving Lorenzo, aka Irv Gotti along with his brother were charged with money
laundering for Supreme. Too bad for them, Supreme had been using Murder Inc. registered phones to transact some of his business. Irv Gotti and Murder Inc. were actually eventually found not
guilty in a jury trial, but it was too late for
Kenneth Supreme McGriff. In early ’07 McGriff was found guilty or paying hitmen, who
testified against him, to commit two murders, including that of E-Money Bags along with drug and
money laundering crimes and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Just like his nephew Gerald Prince Miller. And that’s the story of Supreme. Currently serving life, no
parole, in federal prison. But I thought it would
be interesting to hear from somebody with a unique perspective, somebody who was friends with Supreme in federal prison. – I went to prison in 1993
for an LSD conspiracy. I wasn’t no Pablo Escobar type of dude, but for a teenager, I was
doing decent size stuff. I was supplying 15 colleges in five states with LSD and marijuana. I was locked up in the feds for 21 years. I was in about eight
different federal prisons, I met a lot of people, a lot of convicts, a lot of gangsters, a lot of bank robbers. I started writing books in the mid 2000s. And through my books that I wrote mostly on prison stuff and gangsters, I started meeting a lot
more dudes, a lot of people who were interested in my work. And eventually I met
Kenneth Supreme McGriff, at SCI Gilmore in 2004. When I met Supreme in 2004, I knew who he was, I didn’t know all the implications of everything he had done and all his legendary status, but I heard about him, he was a big dude on the compound. And he knew who I was too at that time I’d been writing stuff for Don Diva and F.E.D.S. Magazine, and I had my first book
out, Prison Stories, and he was really interested in the type of stuff I was doing. So we started talking a lot
and I really got to know him and I got to know his story. He told me a lot of stuff about when he was out there with Irv Gotti and Murder Inc. and a lot
of stuff about 50 Cent. But even when I used to
ask Supreme about 50 Cent you know, I mean, he didn’t
really have no problem with the kid, he thought the
kid was a go-getter, he was doing his stuff, but
he didn’t like it you know. Supreme, he had one foot in
the entertainment business, he had one foot in the streets. And 50 Cent was out there
putting his name in the mix. I was around Supreme personally and what I found was, he was like a real
gentleman type of gangster. I mean don’t get it
wrong, dude was gangster, he would handle his businesses as necessary, but he was really kind of laid back, you know, real
diplomatic, he wouldn’t use his force or anything like that unless you forced his hand. You know, but don’t get it fucked up, if you made the wrong moves Supreme’s gonna handle business, he’s gonna do what he has to do because he has all type of people that are going to do his bidding and do whatever he says, he’s just a real magnetic,
a real charismatic, a real intelligent type of dude. and really, when he speaks it’s like people listen because he doesn’t really speak that much, so when he does say something everybody’s kind of like
on the edge of their seat, like “Okay what does Supreme say, “Supreme said this.” And dudes are ready to enforce his orders like (finger snapping) that! I used to walk the
compound with Supreme a lot and we would walk around you know, and we’d be going here or there and you only got 10 minutes to move so you got to get to where you’re going. And a lot of guys were always coming up to Supreme, and they
wanted to talk to him they wanted to spit 16 verses at him or tell him about this idea or that idea or this book or this song that they had. And Supreme was always real gracious. He would always talk to these dudes and give ’em time. I used to tell Supreme sometimes after these dudes left, I was like, “What, why do you always
let these crackheads “just come up and monopolize your time?” Or, “Why do you even talk to them, “these dudes are crackheads.” And he told me seriously, he was like, “Man, sometimes you can learn
a lot from a crackhead.” – So there you have it. The story of hip hop’s
transformation from a New York neighborhood phenomenon into
a billion dollar business. The trail of bodies upon
bodies that went along with it and the man they still call Supreme. Today the old Jamaica, Queens crew is more successful and powerful than ever. Russell Simmons does yoga, and dispenses life skills advice. 50 Cent sells vodka, Run of Run-D.M.C. is a so called reverend with not one but three TV shows on cable including a show where the good reverend remodels a different room in his palatial home every episode. LL Cool J plays a cop on television. Daymond John of FUBU
is an investment guru. But Jam Master Jay is dead, his killer is walking free, and Kenneth Supreme McGriff, a key influence for the hip hop culture of egotism and materialism that has infected global culture, will never be a free man again. Supreme isn’t a big guy, he
wasn’t known for violence but from his days as a teenage leader in the Five Percenters, to
building the Supreme Team into a drug dealing machine, to insinuating himself into the world of chart topping music to still holding sway in federal prison, Supreme was feared, respected and loved. It’s interesting to think what he could have accomplished if he hadn’t come up in
the crack cocaine era in South Jamaica, Queens. Did he make the era? Or did the era make him? We’ll never know. Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button and subscribe to the Al
Profit YouTube channel. (sorrowful piano music)

100 comments

  1. More Historical Cocaine Stories: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwY0Dpkob64&list=PLL9jHtZp8b211hpUCpWB0lcJNJ2Fvdoyz

  2. Shamar silver surfer biggavelli Jamaican Irish jersey jeezy east orange Amherst green wood abg mission street wbla pinestreet ebk 70 lyons ave Harlem boys September 26 1985 march 10 1985 eazy e boys northern State babeside terrace trenton tripset peter roll boysoww

  3. I just heard of the Feurtado brothers from Jamaica Queens. One of the brother's said they were making up to 30 million a month for years. I think they would be a great subject for an Al Profit expose.

  4. I remember growing up in Jamaica and Hollis Queens. I attended P.S.123, & and the duce, 192 j.h.s. My middle school continued at Andrew Jackson, during segregation.
    It reminded me of the riots in Bklyn after Kindergarden. Hollis Queens, 211st. & 109th ave , were some of my best youth yrs. Backyard parties and garage club houses, were like best friends days. Games and dance contests would prove you were apart of the gang.
    On the court or in the lunch room….Playing handball & spades, until the last bell rang. 155th st, Baisly park & Suphtin Blvd, to Bklyn Fort green navy yard.
    We all grew up together. Living a few blocks or houses apart.. I knew we would have more than our parents who worked hard. But After the eighties, Jamaica went down during the crack epidemic. The 80's & 90's were real dark.
    Dreams of acting careers was an end for the baby boomers who got mislead.
    Who knew we would all grow apart. Now some of us telling our stories from a jail cell, Or a project window hall. While a few made it! And a lot more. Life can take all types of turns. But we never give up! The lost people of the Nigerians and
    Creoles.
    I never though one of my favorite commentators would be doing a documentary about the ppl I admired growing up as a child.
    Another great documentary by
    Mr. Al Profit

  5. This is the problem with the black community. They glorify and idolize criminals. These guys are drug dealers who ruin entire communities. They sold poison to their own people. They even murdered their way to the top. Young black youth emulate this gangsta mentality and end up going to prison and even the funeral home . It's a a revolving door that never stops spinning.
    Forget black and white . What about right and wrong? The moral code? What about God? Wake up!

  6. Thank God for JAY-Z.
    A man that's flipping his power to help the black people instead of destroying them. Fuck all you drug dealing ain't shit ass niggas real talk. You fuck face ass niggas dont do shit for your community but take take take. End up going to jail butt fucked by the government. All that killing and dealing just to line the white mans pockets.

    Nigga you not slick. They letting yo dumbass make all that money. You are an investment stock. Grow yo dumb ass like corn and rip yo dumbass out of the ground. A smart drug dealer knows when to turn illegal into legal. You bitches just retarded though. Not even trying to educate yourselves on how to do better. Just running towards the fire with blindfolds on.

  7. The jungle creed is the strong must feed on any prey he can, I sat at the feast and was branded a beast before I ever became a man

  8. That white should ask why do our people let our oppressors like himself even be around and capitalize off us time and time again

  9. Just another reminder of how black people love each other so much!!!๐Ÿ‘Š๐ŸพBlack Power!!!๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜‚

  10. EVERYWHERE WAS TO CRAZY IN THE 70s/80s… Atleast from Boston to New York… that shit was so fuckin crazy in the 70s and 80s!!!

  11. We made basketball players type of money in the 80's!! Thank you Ronald Regan for helping some of us become hood Kennedys and be able to turn our profits from the streets into legitimate businesses!!

  12. How you going to show Kool G Rap picture and not say the OG name. He perfected and added on to Gangster Rap. He is one of its Godfathers and inventors. By the way he is from Corona Queens. – PEACE

  13. How do most Five Percenters feel about McGriff associating himself with the Five Percenters? The Five Percenters are supposed to be about black progress and not thug shit.

  14. Why should anyone believe your stories as fact? White man explaining the streets? Who's version? This shit is absurd! ๐Ÿ˜ก

  15. so… we all gon act like 50 got shot because he said he took jas chain and it had nothing to do with ghetto quaran and 50 having prior grudges with preme cuz he killed his mother… JMJ death is off too… do some research

  16. So many lies and exaggerations… All of this was allowed by the true power players (U.S. Government), so they can come in a clean up the monsters (drug dealers) and be hailed as heroes. In reality, the government (including the police) are the TRUE drug dealing murderers. Black people are only allowed to operate like gangsters to give cover to the true culprits. Black people in their ignorance continue to play the role that give cover to the true violent maniacs.

  17. These clowns make the truth attack their crumbling beams of trick knowledge. How quickly do your pillars of fake history preach fantasy.. peace

  18. This is my first time seeing this old video. Now, what I'd like to know is this, over two million people viewed this video, and for what? To hear how black people are very good at bringing each other down and killing each other? Kudos to all those trying to make something of themselves, and bring in the dollars legally. Even I'm old enough to know, you live by the sword, you die by the sword, unfortunately. We are way beyond the sword, aren't we? So close to genocide, and so far from ever creating a world we can raise our innocent children in.

  19. Of course, we know. Supreme created an era that will never die. We have so many young girls and boys who look up to street life like it's the only way to live. There are young folk out there right now who are convinced they can not become legitimate or decent, legal people because the money they make is too easy to get, then a nine to five. Somebody created this mess and it wasn't time, it was a human being. Just like everything starts at home for all those who ever had a home.

  20. Though I don't think any black person should be using drugs. You have to ask yourself how did these areas become the largest drug spots. Remember we're suppose to had the best men on (there wasn't that many women in the force at that time lol. And of course they didn't want their women to see all the corruption they were doing on the street) how did the drugs get that big in these areas ???

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