In October 2002, Vibe ran an article titled ‘Bad Fellas.’ Written by kris ex, the piece gave readers a brief insight into the history behind Charles Stone III’s Paid in Full, which had been released just one month earlier. Specifically, Vibe delves into the lives of three men: Azie “AZ” Faison, Richard Porter, and Alberto “Alpo” Martinez. This trio provided the inspiration for Ace (played by Wood Harris), Mitch (Mekhi Phifer), and Rico (Cam’ron), respectively, though their collective influence went far beyond the movie theater. “Without ever picking up a microphone,” kris ex writes, “three kids from Harlem laid down the blueprint for mainstream hip hop culture, even as they courted self-destruction.” The author continues:
Though these kingpings never formed an official crew, their stories are interwoven like a plait. At 12, Rich, who grew up in West Harlem, was dealing marijuana and a fake-hash concotion. AZ, who worked across the street from where Rich hustled, stashed Rich’s drugs and guns at his dry-cleaning job, and eventually partnered with him. Alpo, who came from East Harlem, began his life in crime sticking up Dominican drug dealers. A magnet for the ladies and the uncontested live wire of the bunch, Alpo videotaped his sexual conquests and performed block-long wheelies on his motorcycles, wreaking havoc.
In 2009, AZ sat down with NYM to discuss his life as a dealer, and the hardships he faced along his journey to Harlem preeminence. You can find the full interview embedded below.