Trying To Live Peacefully But… “They keep mixing me up in politics.”
The former Shower Posse boss as he appeared on BET’s American Gangster.
This past week, rumors that Vivian Blake had been killed in Kingston were running wild. Ever since the former Shower Posse leader returned to Jamaica this past January after serving time in U.S. Federal prison, he has kept a low profile and focused on writing and taking care of his health and his family. When reports of his death began circulating on the evening of September 21, U.S.-based film producer Curtis Scoon reached out to Blake, who granted this exclusive interview in hopes of separating fact from fiction.
BOOMSHOTS: WE’RE HEARING ALL SORTS OF TALK. WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON?
What’s going on I don’t really even know. But it’s very suspicious right now. I remember when I just came to Jamaica, when the plane touched down and the American agents meet me. An agent said to me, “If you ever feel like your life is threatened, let me know.” He’s one of those agents that are operative in Jamaica. But you know, that time I never even understand what he was saying.
I did 15 years in prison. I’ve never had a crime in Jamaica. Never had a crime in Jamaica. Had nothing to do with Jamaica and their politics. But they keep mixing me up in politics. I’m a family man. Me commit my crimes dem in America, and finish my time. All I want right now is just finish out me life peacefully. I ain’t got no time fi go in gun ting and all type of thing deh. I’m 54 years old. Y’understand me? I have to more try to be checking about my health, more than trying to be gangster.
THERE’S RUMORS GOING AROUND THAT AN ATTEMPT WAS MADE ON YOUR LIFE YESTERDAY. IS THERE ANY TRUTH TO THAT?
There’s something that was strange. Very strange. I don’t know how to put it together, but I went to court yesterday. I went to the Supreme Court yesterday on a civil matter. And I remember that when I went to the front where the officers were, I had to give my name, and everybody eyes look up, so I said, “Yes, it’s me.” So I went and I deal with the civil matter. My son was there, my daughter was there, my wife was there, and another friend. So we came and we dealt with the civil matter. When I was coming now, I kinda delayed—I sometimes have some kinda sixth sense, you know—I kinda delayed and waited for my kids and my wife to come downstairs, cause I sent for my car to park right out at the front. My driver told me that when he parked, he saw two policemen there, and he’s saying—after the fact—that they looked a way. He just didn’t like how they looked.
Vivian Blake then and now: “I ain’t worried about thugs… If I am shot in Jamaica, it’s political police.“
I came out. When I came out my family was behind and I was in front. And I see them and for some reason I know, This is a strange happening. They’re staring at me and one have him hand under him coat and they’re staring at me with criminal eye. Caw criminal know criminal. And I stopped. And I wait to see me family dem come out of the court room. And I walk and I stare at them, and me and them stare at each other. It’s a vicious stare. I told my family—cause my family had their cars you know—I say, Listen, everybody drive with me. And they’re wondering what and I said, Come in the car. And I’m still staring at them and them staring. And I’m seeing one coming from the other direction, over the other side of the street, and he’s staring at me. I wasn’t in the driver’s seat. I was in the passenger seat. So why you staring at me? And looking serious with him shirt hanging out of him pants. Feel like he’s somebody coming to fire some shot. I look at the policeman, you know what I say to my family? I say, “You see those two police there and the other one across the street? They want to kill me.” It’s just a feeling.
So what I did, I drive and drop my kids off. Drop my wife off and me daughter. And me and me son and another friend drive to Tivoli Gardens. That is my community, right? And I stopped in my community and I’m telling somebody the incident, what happened, and how I felt. I know something—whether they were gonna do it there, or trail me, or something. I don’t know how it was gon’ happen but it was gonna happen. And 15 minutes after, these calls I started get from all over—bout 20, 30 minutes after. All over—that I am dead.
WHY DO YOU THINK THE POLICE WOULD WANT YOU DEAD?
Listen. This is not the regular police you know. 99 percent of Jamaica police is good people. The ones I am scared of is the political police. You understand me?
DO THEY ALL WEAR THE SAME UNIFORM?
Yeah, but they are the political police. Those are the ones. I’m not scared of criminals in Jamaica. Me and the PNP criminals are friends. Me and the JLP criminals are friends. And especially my community Tivoli Gardens. That is the safest place for me on earth. It’s safer than anywhere, outside where I live. I worry outside more than how I would worry in Tivoli. I would never even have a inch of worry inna my community. I feel safer sleeping in the street of Tivoli Garden than sleeping in a house in the ritzy part of Jamaica, in St. Andrew. I am not worried about criminals. Because me and the criminals have a mutual understanding, beca’ we are from the same upbringing. But for some reason these people just think I’m a politician. I was born and raised in Tivoli Gardens and nobody can change that. And I don’t want to change that.
YOU HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH EVERYBODY IN TIVOLI GARDENS?
The relationship is like a million percent good. I told you just before, it’s the only place I know I can sleep in the street. I don’t matter how them talk bout my community. Ah the most peaceful community right now.
WHY WOULD THESE PEOPLE SAY YOU ARE DEAD? WHERE DID THEY GET THAT IDEA?
I can’t fathom it. But based on how I felt at that time, and half an hour after that, this news. It’s in the paper today you know. In the STAR this evening, it says “Rumors That the Shower Posse Leader Is Dead Is Not True.” I know it would come inna the papers. But them need fi let go of me right now. Let go of me and let go of our community.
SO YOU’RE TRYING TO LIVE YOUR LIFE PEACEFULLY NOW?
Peaceful. At my age I don’t have time to organize. The only thing I can organize now is how to make some good legit money.
ALL THIS PRESSURE MUST MAKE IT HARD TO DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.
With all these negative things lately, everything disturbing. Right now I have a team of people around me weh is top business people in Jamaica. And every one of them is down with the project. People want to stop the jobs they are doing to be with this project. Everybody love the plan that me have.
WHEN YOU WERE TAKING THOSE BUSINESS CLASSES IN PRISON, YOU COULD HAVE PROBABLY TAUGHT THE TEACHER A THING OR TWO ABOUT RUNNING A BUSINESS.
Hey listen, even when I was in prison I have this plan for the past seven years now. And right now I have about three elder Caucasian men who are dying for it to start. Cause you know good people go to prison with the bad. Bright people. Top marketing people. That’s all I was doing in prison, me and people reasoning about business. I don’t talk weight argument. I don’t have time to talk about gun and violence and them ting deh. You understand? And these people putting me in this position constantly.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
I don’t know, cause my community is hated. For some reason or another. And it’s the only community in Jamaica now where there is no crime. So why they want to destroy it? If a kid want to go to school… Hey, you know how much school fee I pay the late part of August? About 500. When their mother come and say they need it, if I don’t have it I go find it. Becaw the kids haffi go school. We have a program right now in West Kingston where all the kids have to come off the street by 8 o’clock. They have to be in their house doing their homework. That was instituted even before I come back. Just to make these kids know, Gun is not the answer.
SO WHY DO WE HEAR SO MUCH ABOUT VIOLENCE IN THE INNER CITY?
Years ago you have unsophisticated criminals. Nowadays it’s a different thing. You have people who are thinking and know say the future is not gun, is not crime. The future is business and raise good kids. Cause I have a motto: Take care of young women. Make them go to school. When they are not in school, they raise bad kids. But when a young woman go to school and achieve something, trust me, when she have a kid that kid gwine achieve something too. But when a kid can’t go to school and get pregnant at age 15 in the ghetto she can’t takecare of the baby. Then she get pregnant again at 17 cause she have to get a man to get some money from. With good women, you end up with good kids. You’ve got to start somewhere.
IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU’RE DOING POSITIVE THINGS. WHO WOULD BE THREATENED BY THAT?
They’re not trying to see this, although it’s in their face. We’re just criminals. We’re supposed to die. That’s just it.
DID YOU EVER CALL THAT AGENT WHO SAID TO CALL HIM IF YOU HAD A PROBLEM?
Never. If it gon’ happen, it just happen. I know I’m innocent of all they’re talking about. And me believe inna God. You understand? My belief is in God. Hey, listen, I’ve gotten about 500 calls from all over the world.
IT WAS ALL OVER TWITTER LAST NIGHT.
It’s just crazy. And guess what? I don’t do these people nothing.
DO YOU THINK SOMEBODY ELSE GOT KILLED AND THAT’S WHY THOSE RUMORS WENT FLYING?
Listen there has been many things happening in the past and we know. It’s just things that we don’t talk about. People try to put out a bad vibes in the community that’s not there. You understand me? That mean, if anything should happen, they blame it on the community.
BUT YOU’RE MAKING IT CLEAR THAT THERE’S UNITY IN TIVOLI GARDENS.
Unity. But I’m kinda fed up. I want to live a peaceful life. I want them to leave me alone. They have my kids worried. My kids are American citizens. My kids are planning now to go to the U.S. Embassy and talk to them. Because my kids live with me, and they feel like their life is in danger. My two kids have graduate from college. My daughter just opened up a good business in Jamaica. They’re scared now. An American can’t come to Jamaica and open up a business? What you doing, chasing them away? My kids can sleep on the ground in Tivoli Gardens. They’re so comfortable when they are there. It’s the outside world they are worried about. My kids go anywhere in Tivoli. I don’t have to be there. They go there anywhere in Tivoli Gardens. They go there any hours, five o’clock in the morning, three o’clock in the morning—any time they feel like.
LOTS OF PEOPLE SAY IT’S THE SAFEST PLACE IN KINGSTON.
That community welcome everybody. Every single person.
THAT’S WHERE THEY KEEP PASSA PASSA.
Yeah and that thing been going on for years and there’s never ever been an incident of violence. Them need fi leave us alone, man. A friend of mine always tell me—he’s dead now—That we are one community against the world. He’s dead now, but he always say to me “Viv, we are one community against the world.”
AND IT’S BEEN THAT WAY FROM EVER SINCE?
From ever since. I’m talking, I’ve been living in Tivoli Garden from 1966.
IF YOU COULD SPEAK DIRECTLY TO THE PEOPLE WHO WISH YOU HARM, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
Me just say, it’s not what them think. But guess wha? These people know otherwise. It’s just the big politics. Bigger politics than we can think. I’m not talking political thugs. Caw me and thugs are friends. I’m talking big thugs weh them behind them desks and just send sanctions down and people must die.
WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE SHOWER POSSE MOVIE?
I think that will be a great movie. That’s an American style movie. That’s America! All this thing, they’re mixing this thing up, this Shower Posse thing with Jamaica. This has nothing to do with Jamaica. It’s an American Thing. I was living in America for 15 years, from 1973 to 1988. This has nothing to do with Jamaica. Nothing at all to do with Jamaica—yeah, we are Jamaicans, that’s what it has to do with Jamaica—but it has nothing to do with Jamaican politics. I went to America at 17 years old. Me no involve inna politics. I just graduated from high school. I spent one year after school and worked for the PNP government. I work a year for the PNP government.
BEFORE YOU WENT TO AMERICA?
THAT WASN’T HARD TO GET A JOB COMING FROM TIVOLI?
No, I had to give a different address. And the place I worked was adjacent to Tivoli Gardens. But I still had to give an address in another neighborhood. That’s the only way I got the job.
WHY DO YOU SAY IT’S ONE COMMUNITY AGAINST THE WORLD?
Tell you what, we’ve been living this ting so long. It’s like the norm, we’ve got to feed each other. We’ve been living this thing forever. You know when you’re used to something? But you know people getting smarter and smarter, and have more resources of earning, and can spread around a little thing more in their community. But this has been forever. Trust me it’s not going to change, until them get rid of all of us.
DO YOU THINK THAT’S THE PLAN?
That’s definitely the plan.
SO IT REALLY IS TIVOLI GARDENS AGAINST THE WORLD?
Yeah. Didn’t you get the news the other day? Just before I came out of prison, an assault was made on a house. I have never seen these things in my life. It was in the paper, assault on something similar to a townhouse. I’m talkings shots from the air, shots from the ground, shots from the front, shots from the back. With four people in the house.
In Tivoli. Kill everybody. Kids in the house was calling on their phone, ah beg fi help. Cause they can’t move. Shots coming from the ceiling. Shots coming from the ground. Shots coming from the from front ah you, shots from side ah you. I’m talking a demolished house with gunshots.
AND NOBODY KNOWS WHY THIS WAS DONE?
No. They’re gon’ say it’s gunman or whatever. But that’s not the real thing. That sounds like it’s in the Army. Like a war.
BUT AREN’T THERE OTHER COMMUNITIES IN JAMAICA THAT FEEL JUST THE SAME WAY, LIKE IT’S THEM AGAINST THE WORLD?
Yeah but we get the worst of it. The worst. And when I say worst, bout 100 times worse.
AND THIS IS JUST BECAUSE TIVOLI IS SO STRONG?
No because we are just united.
YOU HAVE TO BE STRONG TO HOLD UP UNDER THIS PRESSURE.
I’m telling you. My eyes have to be all over the place. I don’t worry about criminals. Ain’t no criminal in Jamaica gwine hurt me. I need that to be clear. If I am shot in Jamaica, it’s political police. And me wan’ you underline the word political. It’s political police. It don’t have nothing to do with street thing, and it don’t have nothing to do with the regular police.
SO YOU NEVER GOT ANY SORT OF MESSAGE OR WARNING?
Well I can tell you yesterday, a police officer called me, and tell me say “Mr. Blake, Me know you nah do anything wrong. All me wan’ you do just watch when you driving.” A police officer told me that.
WAS THIS BEFORE ALL THOSE CALLS STARTING COMING OR AFTER?
DO YOU FEEL SAFE IN JAMAICA?
I’m safe with thugs. I ain’t worried bout thugs. I gwine tell you again, it’s the political police. And guess what? Anything they would be doing to us is innocent stuff. But their aim is to bring the community down to its knees. Demolish the community. I remember there was one thing that was said by an army officer, that “Tivoli Gardens is the garrison of all garrisons.”
BUT YOU SAY IT’S JUST UNITY IN THE COMMUNITY.
Unity is in all community. Trust me on that. There is no war with no neighboring community in our area. None whatsoever.
CAUSE YOU HEAR DIFFERENT THINGS.
I know. But I’m just setting the record straight. Nothing like that. It’s the most fun-loving community probably in the world. When I’m there I’m so relaxed and at ease.
SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD PLACE FOR YOU RIGHT NOW.
Yeah. Everybody tells me that I should just don’t leave outta the community. But guess wha? I ain’t scared. Beca’ what they’ve been running me down for, I’m innocent of it. Them say a coward man die many deaths, a brave man die but once. So me can’t too take them and put them pon practice.
Meaning I can’t keep them on me mind. Cause if you keep them on your mind, it ah go consume your whole soul. Bwoi them need to just give me a break man. It’s just that every day you hear a different rumor. Every day you hear a different rumor.
Yeah for some reason, some force thinks I am an obstacle coming back from America. There is some fear in them that I am going to be like I was in America. I ain’t got time for that right now. I ain’t got time for them type of thing. My main priority is for the youth to go school. I don’t like dumb people. If you’re dumb you can’t be a leader. I used to say guts without brain, you are no man. You could be as brave as anything else, you haffi have likkle brain. All a man needs to survive is just 10 percent guts, and 90 percent brain.
IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’VE GOT A GOOD SUPPLY OF BOTH.