V: Andraé’s story

Andre Maxwell

Andraé Maxwell is a contributing vocalist to DJC. He sings background vocals on “A215-162” (track 4 of Die Jim Crow EP) and is featured on the forthcoming LP as well. This is his story as sent to DJC producer Fury Young via jpay.com.

andre session
Andrae (top) listening to playback during session
Date: 11/2/2016 4:24:12 PM
To: Fury Young

What’s up? I was thinking about you and the things you have achieved with this movement. Not only did I find a new friend in you, but I found a way to expose my art to the world outside of prison. Your drive makes me think. I’m wondering if you ever done time in your life? Your support for the less fortunate; incarcerated; forgotten-about living souls that day by day watch their dreams fade away with every sunset; those that fight to keep a level of humanity stripped from them when issued the prison number now considered to be their new identification! I want to share my story with you. I’m not writing a book, just would like to share my story. I was born to a single mother of two kids. My sister and myself, a year apart. my dad left to remarry another woman and start a different family. My mother went from guy to guy, in and out of relationships to the point she started using drugs real heavy. The effects of her drug use left me and my sister to “Children Services”. I experienced foster home after foster home, which graduated to group homes.

Eventually, I was introduced to “Juvenile Detention Centers”. I was considered an unruly child because of the lack of love I didn’t receive from people who considered me to their paycheck. When people looked at me all they saw was how much money having me around brought them. My health, well-being, state of mind, and education as a kid did not register to my caretakers. When I turned 14 years old, my best friend was murdered. Shot in the head close range from the rear, while driving a car. The person who did the shooting admitted to the crime, but also said that I was there also. For the love of GOD, I could not understand why dude would say that I was at the scene of the crime. I truly was not there.

andre singing chir
Andraé (center) singing in UMOJA choir

Long story short, I was arrested at the age 14 for being involved in a murder. I was pressured into testifying against the murderer. He was convicted and sentenced to 40 years to life at the age 17. Then the cops turn around and told my best friend’s family that I was there when their family member was killed, and that I was still withholding information. That basically gave the family a green light to kill me. Little old me at the age 14 years old! At that time I was back with my mother. I had to then leave her once more because people wanted me dead, and they stayed right down the street from my mom’s house. With no gun, no prior street knowledge; or place to go, I turned to the streets to teach me how to survive. I did petty robberies to cloth and feed myself. Started drinking and smoking weed to cover up the pain of dealing with people shooting at me and being scared. It wasn’t until I got kidnapped by the sisters of my best friend that I turned to carrying guns. I picked up my first gun at the age of 16. I didn’t become an active shooter until years later, but when I did, the whole city of Youngstown, Ohio knew to be careful. I was always told that if you do something, do it to the best of your abilities. I was determined to make sure I did not find myself in the shoes of a victim ever again.

That day – I say it was about April of 2004 – I became the predator! Everything thing about me elevated. My drug use; my attitude; my guns; my arrest record; my name in the streets; my crew; my reign of terror; all grew larger! I became one that was feared in my town, instead of one sought after because I was an easy mark. Instead it was the exact opposite. People started having meetings about me because my activity made it hard for a lot of people in the street to do their thing. I was called the proverbial monkey on people’s backs. I loved the attention my reputation brought me. Rather good or bad, I liked it all the same. I became custom to problems, either starting or finishing them. My mind was so twisted that I really believed that “people only respect disrespect”! That’s the only time people fall in line with my way of seeing things.

As much as I hate this place, I thank GOD for placing me in prison, because this is the only thing that got my attention to grow up and be who I’m supposed to be. My maturity came to me while in prison.

Please let me know your thoughts on this period of my life. Thank you for listening to my story.
B.I.T.S. Dré

[BITS = Brother in the struggle]