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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings


Unique disclaimer

I wouldn’t expect the casual consumer of my blog content to understand material presented in the current post. In fact, I suspect that some may be repulsed by their beliefs about what I have to say herein.

I’m comfortable with accepting that not everyone will appreciate learning about my growth in regards to gang-adjacent activity. For those willing to perceive the intended meaning of my words, I welcome you to digest what is communicated herein.

For everyone else, you may want to pass on this one. For law enforcement, intelligence analysists, feds, and informants alike, I’ll issue the same declaration as I stated in my post entitled 2-Nice:

I am not now, have never been, nor do I foresee myself being a validated gang member, known associate, and/or direct affiliate of any criminal organization. Furthermore, I unequivocally denounce any allegation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act-related activity.

Brief background

In fifth grade, living in Aurora, Colorado, I was introduced to members of a local Crip set. A “set” is a subgroup within a larger group or organization and is sometimes referred to as a “clique.”

As an example, one source identifies that in the mid-‘80s Denver, Colorado was home to the Rolling 30 Crips. Rolling 30 is the set and Crip is the overarching organization.

My introduction to a Crip set in childhood was by way of afterschool beatings from members who sought to establish dominance. The new kid from Texas was presumably a threat, for whatever reason, so I received a steady diet of knuckle sandwiches from set members.

By sixth grade, I made friends with some of the boys who used to bully me and I was offered an opportunity to join the set. Not just anyone was trusted enough to receive that invitation.

For a number of reasons, I declined the offer though accepted to partake in doing dirt with my friends. Nonetheless, for my contribution to their cause, I was offered protection at school.

With my youthful reasoning, I had five relevant arguments against joining a set. First, the rule at that time was that entry to a gang required a severe beating. I received enough abuse within my home and didn’t value any form of acceptance which required others to physically strike me.

Second, there was a requirement for lifelong membership. On his song “Street Life,” Scarface summed up this rule by stating, “I remember what was said, ‘You come in alive, the only way you leave out is dead.” I wasn’t prepared to make that sort of commitment.

Third, as my late stepmom once told me, “Boy, you don’t like bein’ told what to do.” There was no way I was going to allow gang members to dictate my behavior. If I chose to put in work with set members, that was one thing. However, I wasn’t open to being commanded to do so.

Fourth, for those who remember the drive-by era, you likely heard that the homes of rival sets were being shot up back then. I didn’t want my eight-years-younger half-sister to ever suffer the consequences of my actions, so membership wasn’t an appropriate option for me.

Finally, I feared my dad. More than the concept of Hell in which I believed at the time, I didn’t want to face my dad’s wrath if ever he learned that I was gang-affiliated.

Once back in my hometown of Amarillo, Texas, I again befriended members of a local Crip set when in high school. A renegade set with different standards and behavior than the parent set from South Central Los Angeles, California, my friends allied with Bloods and Sureños.

I maintained “untouchable” status, meaning I wasn’t subject to conflict that involved competing sets, though I continued to forego official membership with any gang. Not long after graduating high school, I chose an international clique when enlisting in the Marine Corps.

I’ve not retained contact with any of my validated gang member friends in almost three decades. Most of them are either dead or were subject to incarceration. Nonetheless, I appreciate the experience of learning firsthand the ability to articulate for myself reasons not to take certain paths in life.

Mitchy Slick & Damu

On their 2021 album 23 Blocks, rappers Mitchy Slick and Damu featured a track entitled “Anything.” Because I make it a practice not to reveal gang affiliations which are attributed to some rappers, I’ll refrain from commenting on speculation regarding these rapper’s alleged gang ties.

What is worth noting is that my third argument against joining a gang is precisely what “Anything” is about. When officially affiliated with a set, a person is required to do “anything for the gang,” as the chorus states. To further elucidate my point, consider other lyrics of the song:

Headed to the liquor store two-deep, twisted up, niggas ain’t had no sleep. You been hustlin’ all night. Shit, you gotta eat. A G nigga, you gotta try to be. The same hitta’ them other niggas wanna be. It’s curtains for ya’, homie, if the homie put it on the biz. It’s easy to get in it but it’s hard for the enemy. Catch him outta bounds, then get hit with a penalty. You a legend for what you did, that shit was big. All for the section, ever since you was a kid. And when that nigga shot the homie, you was right behind him. For the set, and that 44 had to find him!

When practicing Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I pay close attention to demanding statements such as should, must, or ought. Described in “Anything,” a rival gang member shot someone in the rapper’s set and the requirement was that a .44 Magnum bullet “had to find him!”

As a minor, I didn’t know how to dispute demanding irrational beliefs such as this. All the same, I’m thankful that my defiant attitude in regards to being told what to do by others kept me from situations in which I could’ve been commanded to commit murder. The song continues:

In this war, there’s usually about ten kamikazes that’s obligated themselves to make sure ops end. In the name of the slain, there came him. He was a wild one, no way to tame him. Under my tutelage, he became the gruesomest. Knocking noodles outta ops who was slick. Broad day, I would tell him to cool out but he was a firecracker, couldn’t even wait ‘til school’s out. Boradtowns come up to the lunch, it’s a shootout. He was a cold cornerback, I told him to take the school route. But all he wanted was to be like me. Get money and get it brackin’ when the Broads ceased. Trill! After his first, went in often and offed shit. His body count got so high, it was brazy. He lost it, became a serial murderer for the gang. So many traumatic experiences got to his brain.

In this verse, a story is told of a murder for the gang who not only followed orders; it appears as though he went out of his way to prove himself to the set. I appreciate that the rapper correctly identified how such actions could lead to the experience of trauma.

When I was younger, I didn’t consider the consequences of dumping on people who were identified as enemies. Though it may seem like an obvious excuse, I don’t recall use of forward thinking when I was friendly with gang members.

One may interject, “But Deric, you’ve said you feared what may’ve resulted if your dad found out you joined a gang, which implies consideration of the future.” Apart from my immediate fear of physical and emotional abuse from my dad, I don’t remember thinking of an instance beyond several months into the future.

Without deliberating the consequences of one’s actions in the here-and-now, taking into account future ramifications for one’s behavior, the unpleasant aftereffect of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may result. I didn’t need any added trauma experience to that already accumulated in my childhood.

Similarly, I doubt the set member described in “Anything” contemplated the potential of eventually developing PTSD. Herein is the point of the current blogpost.

When a person is prepared to do “anything” for a criminal organization, and without use of rational thinking, the consequences of one’s unhealthy assumptions and associated behavior can be highly destructive. Given this premise, and of the following three options, which do you suspect would be the most helpful choice?

Option one; follow guidance inherent in the song’s hook:

Most of my niggas is dead or doin’ time. Veterans who put it all on the line. Believe me, if he toss up that sign, he bury his…anything for the gang!

Option two; dispute irrational beliefs about loyalty to a set that will simply move forward in your absence—whether you die, become incarcerated, or you lose touch with reality, as described about the “serial murder for the gang” in “Anything.”

Option three; do nothing at all and see how everything turns out.

Keep in mind that the root word of anything is “any,” and this declaration is taken literally when in a gang. If a big homie orders you to sell drugs, then you’re selling drugs. If told to rape someone in front of other members, to further humiliate the individual, guess what you’re doing.

As a female who wants to join a gang, you may learn an alternative meaning for the word “gangbang” in order to gangbang, if demanded to do so. When told to take one for the team by inheriting a criminal charge on behalf of another set member, you’re going to jail.

When incarcerated and given instruction to kill a fellow set member who’s suspected of being a snitch, another gang member will come to shank you if you refuse the order. Doing anything for the gang means just that…any…thing.

Whether validated or merely friends, if your “heart pump[s] Kool-Aid,” doing anything on behalf a gang may not be an option you want to consider, “‘Cause what’s about to happen, you may not be able to stomach.” As such, option two appears to be the healthiest option.


I don’t recall thinking rationally about gang affiliation in my youth. Sure, I had relevant reasons I chose not to join. However, none of my arguments were steeped in logic with regards to my psychological or physiological safety beyond relatively immediate consequences.

Granted, I was afraid that if I cliqued up with a set, my half-sister may suffer the ramifications of my choice. As well, I feared physical punishment from my dad. All the same, I didn’t contemplate the long-term consequences of my behavior.

Thankfully, consideration of the short-term ramifications relating to my foolish decisions was enough to keep me from winding up like the individual described in “Anything.” Though symptoms of PTSD were later compounded in the Corps, I didn’t needlessly add to my suffering by joining a criminal gang.

For people looking to manage symptoms of PTSD, because you may’ve chosen different options than I did in childhood, I don’t judge you. Instead, I’m prepared to assist you in navigating your way through a maze of uncomfortable beliefs so that you may serve something other than a gang—like your interests and goals.

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


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