Destiny can be a tricky thing. Either you accept your fate as is, or you choose to do whatever it takes to come out on the other end alive. For Pacman Da Gunman, it’s a little bit of both. Whereas the average person may have called it quits a long time ago, he chose to keep it pushing. You can’t quit what’s destined.
On the west side of South Central, Los Angeles, in the middle of the Crenshaw District, there is an energy that has captivated a community for over 40 years. For what is now, and largely has become known as the home of a tribe called the Rollin’ 60 Crips, this area has produced some of the brightest stars and the most captivating moments in modern culture. It is in this three-mile radius that Da’Monte Lyles, better known as Pacman Da Gunman has emerged as another product of this influential place.
Born in 1992, at the height of a golden era in both music and the streets, Pacman began life like any other kid. Quiet in school but also observant outside of it, his earliest memories were of his mother raising three kids and working a job to provide. He saw at a young age that hustling meant doing what you had to do to get by. Pacman’s mom managed to save up enough money to move them out of the garage behind his grandmother’s home and into an apartment on 8th Avenue and 63rd Street.
Wanting to help his family out with money, Pacman picked up his first hustle: collecting trash from other tenants of his apartment building. Slowly, he gained more freedom and ventured outside of the gates surrounding his home. Like many of his peers — and young men in most inner-city neighborhoods — Pacman didn’t see the danger. The thought of death or incarceration wasn’t a deterrent because the idea of the life was so strong that taking whatever came was the daily reality.
As elementary turned into middle school, the hallways of Horace Mann introduced many to street activity, Pacman got more involved. So did his peers. And now claiming took on a much different form. Calls from school where his mother had to take off of work to come listen to what Pacman was into became more frequent. His quiet demeanor dimmed as the realities and politics of his area moved him to ultimately accept his role in something larger than himself. If one were to describe the Rollin’ 60 Crips in one word, infamous might do the job.
Even though he began to move without a conscience, Pacman was fortunate enough to have a leader’s nature and a pseudo-mentor who gave him the game as he needed. Quick scoldings to stay off the block, or to stop doing what he was doing put things in perspective for him in a way that his peers didn’t have.
In a random twist of fate, Pacman, the guy who could care less about sports and just wanted to Crip with the best of them, got pulled into the studio by BH, one of his homeboys and close friends of Nipsey Hussle. BH saw something in Pacman that stood out. So he threw him in the booth and made him spit something. From the get-go, he was one of those artists with a voice. Many of the greats are greats for many reasons, but their voice is their truest instrument and serves as their stamp no matter what track they’re on, or who’s on it with them. With a nasally delivery, and a calm, almost nonchalant flow, Pacman is simply having a conversation with his listener, passing the game on the way it was passed to him.
Dedicating himself to the booth, Pacman went to his local music store and bought the cheapest equipment that he could find. Even his mother doubted his ability to stay inside. As a naturally active person, Pacman thrived in his element. He was always out. But this music thing was the one interest that took his attention away from the streets, and he began recording projects at an almost maniacal pace. Before he could look up, he was already five projects deep with his Play Ball series. He’d also gotten the attention of Nipsey at this point and added an infectious chorus on “Where Yo Money At” as “Pacman” for Nipsey’s Mailbox Money project. Then he threw another three projects out there with Ground Ball, Fast Ball, and MVP.
Through this flurry of music, Pacman was showing his formidable work ethic. It found its way into clothing with his Play Ball Clothing brand. Started as another of his many hustles, Pacman realized he could make at least $10 dollars a shirt by printing them downtown and selling them at the Slauson Swap Meet. It was also this same work ethic that saw him enter Nipsey Hussle’s inner circle. This, besides where they were from, was what both shared: a want for more and a willingness to work for it. For Pacman, Nipsey served as another mentor who kept him mindful of his energy and pushed him to do for others only out of the goodness of his heart. With books and demonstration, Nipsey and the All Money In family were that for Pacman. And with their blessing, he continued to rise.
Signing with All Money In is hard for Pacman to currently put into words because of its unexpected nature. The same unexpected nature that Pacman felt when his music began to gain attention. Because up to that point, he was already 10-plus projects deep. He’d already put the blood, sweat and tears into the booth and outside of it for his community. But, again, destiny is a tricky thing. It’s safe to say, many remember where they were when they heard Nipsey Hussle had not only been shot but that he’d passed due to his gunshot wounds. The world almost stopped. And for Pacman, all that he’d learned, all that he’d gained, all that had been shown to him through Nipsey was even more clear. As much as getting locked up is a part of the game, so is death. To be in the streets, one must have an understanding with it and know that losing those closest to you is inevitable. But make no mistake, Pacman and All Money In will never allow Nipsey and his legacy to be tarnished or held in anything but the highest regard. And with that sentiment, and the constant teachings he’s gained, Pacman refused to give up.
His most recent project Este Loca Vida Mia walks the audience through the mind of a man who’s been through it all and is now, after experiencing one of the biggest losses of his life, taking it all in. With tracks like “Sin or Bless”, highlighting the game being the game and taking all that comes with it, Pacman’s perspective is that of a veteran. Partnered with the ever-entertaining Boosie, “Runnin’ Outta Space” is Pacman’s moment to boast, and lay out in very plain terms, all that he’s worked for and the hunger to get more. “Blow It” closes out the record as Pacman lays claim to his place not only in his neighborhood but the streets at large as the “last of a dying breed.”
Pacman has come up through the ranks. He’s risked it all and put it all on the line for his community and his comrades. He is uniquely qualified to speak for his community, for those who aren’t heard, and he’s walking into his purpose to do that now. It’s easy to see when people lose their ability to learn. When they feel as though the need to gain more knowledge has left and they have it all figured out. But Pacman owes his career and his life to his ability to learn from others, as well as the mistakes they make.
That same three mile radius that has put some of our favorite people in our living room and streaming services has been frequently vilified. But that’s a narrative dictated by outsiders who don’t have the clarity or insight to judge. Like anyone else trying to work for a better life, Pacman wants the same thing we all want: his family to be taken care of, to be happy, and to be healthy. Destiny at times can feel prewritten. Moments and events wind themselves into a path that inspires and wounds. For Pacman, he’s felt both, but right now, in this current place, he’s appreciative. And that’s something. — TE P.
In starting at the beginning of the story, can you speak to some of your earliest memories growing up in L.A.?
Pacman da Gunman: It was like any other ghetto. I grew up in the Crenshaw District of L.A., around Crenshaw and Slauson. I grew up on 8th Ave. and 63rd with my Mom, who was a single mother, and two sisters. I started hustling, taking out trash as a child. Around this time food stamps was still going. So I would collect food stamps and change. But gradually I was able to step outside of the gate and go down the street where the older homes were hustling and my house eventually turned into something else. But I started off by taking out trash in my apartment building, bro. Trying to get some money, man.
I know L.A. has a lot of roots in the south. In terms of your family, did they migrate from anywhere else? Or were they in L.A. from the early beginnings?
Pacman da Gunman: As far as I know, they was already in L.A. We didn’t migrate. I’m L.A. born and raised. We didn’t really migrate from any other state or city.
OK. You spoke early about living with your mom and two sisters. What was that family dynamic like in your house?
Pacman da Gunman: Honestly, we lived in a garage behind my granny’s house on 60th St. My mom stayed in the garage with me and my two sisters. She had a job that was paying her under the table, so she was saving her money up. Eventually, we was finally able to get an apartment on the block on 8th Avenue. It was a two bedroom apartment. Moms was strong. She ain’t play no games. She made sure we ate, had school clothes, and followed the rules and all that. As far as the street life, I had to do it behind her back. You know, she’d go to work and I would sneak outside. Because she was a single parent. I’m sneaking outside. Doing everything I ain’t supposed to do. Just trying to make it back home before she gets off of work. Moms did a hell of a job.
Is there anybody in your family that you can think to at that time that you could look up to? Maybe somebody that shaped the way you looked at—or interacted with—the world at the time?
Pacman da Gunman: Not really. Na. I really ain’t have nobody in my family that I could look up to like that. It was the hood. The old heads on the block. At this time, it was early. I’m 7, 8, 9, 10 years old and I’m seeing this. I’m seeing this because I have to pass them everyday. I’m seeing the old heads with cars on rims, jewelry and this. And that was fly to me. Like, “I need some of that.” Know what I’m saying? In terms of family, there wasn’t really anyone I could look up to or get advice from like that.
On this project [Este Loca Vida Mia] you mention “thuggin in the school.” As a youngin, what kind of student would you say you were?
Pacman da Gunman: In elementary I was more of a quiet student. I don’t remember too vividly but I started messing up around 6th, 7th grade when I started going to Horace Mann Middle School. It’s funny because me and my mom was just talking about this a week or two ago. She was talking about how I constantly had her up at the school, how bad I was, and all this. She was always coming up to the school. She had to call off of work. Talk to the principal. They telling her about the gang shit I’m doing. I’m wearing gang colors. She wasn’t into that because I wasn’t raised that way. It’s the environment. A lot of people think that you get turned out in your household, but it’s really your environment. That freedom you get when you go to school, and walking home is when you start to soak up the negative. So yeah, I was kind of fuck up in school and through high school. But I was still expected to be respectful. The teachers made sure they made that clear to my mom. I was respectful but I’m just not doing what I’m supposed to do.
You made a good point there when you said the respect is still there. For a lot of cats, when you go outside, it’s something different than in the home. And that influence is big. If you have to walk to school, or take the bus to school. A lot of cats start off hiding from their parents because they know it’s not naturally who you are or what you were taught.
Pacman da Gunman: We get formed and shaped into something by the environment. Unintentionally though. You know what I’m saying?
As we start to move forward, you brought us here perfectly to your teenage years. You mention 6th, 7th, 8th grade. That’s usually the time that you start to see—in certain environments—the difference in people, and people changing. You start to see the people that you know are with it. You see the people focused on school. You know who the athletes are going to be. People start choosing their paths. For you, can you speak to growing into those years and what that looked like?
Pacman da Gunman: At that age, I stayed in an apartment building where there was heavy gang activity. 8th Avenue, Hyde Park, and Slauson was nothing but like, killers, drug dealers, robbers, and all that. That’s pretty much what we saw going to school. Growing up, when you see a kid walking to school, you’ll fuck with ‘em because you know ‘em. You know their parents. You communicate with them or what not. The main transition is early teens around 15 or 16. That’s when you get into it—into it. I was already claiming the hood. But I took the initiative to get courted on or what not. And it went from there. But at the same time, during that process, I always had a mind of my own. I was always strategic in how I moved. And smart enough to be a leader. Everything that I decided to do was me consciously making decisions. That’s why I was able to be free for so long. I’m one of those people that’s still able to learn from somebody else’s mistakes. People made mistakes during that era. Niggas our age were going to camp and all that. So I’m learning from they mistakes. I made the decision to be a leader and do things my way. All you gotta do is stand firm and not be on no bozo, buster shit and you gonna survive.
Once you decided to become part of your community, was there anyone that you could say was the guide? Or somebody you looked to where you had an older influence that could give you game?
Pacman da Gunman: It was a dude named Tom that was from the hood back in the day. He ended up changing his life. But he was still respected in the area. Every time he’d see me on the block he’d be like, “Get back in the gate. Quit hanging in front of the building. Don’t do this. Don’t do that.” He always told me, “You gonna be a boss. You gonna have money.” He told me everything that was right. He’d been through it already. At this time, I’m a teenager and cuz already mid-to-late 30s. He knew everything that was going to happen. He was trying to save me from being in the mix of everything. More than anything, he wanted me to be a hustler. Ever since I was a kid he would tell everybody that I was his favorite. He didn’t know why but he just seen something in me. He still says that to this day. Like, I’ll go to the liquor store and he’ll still be there guiding. To this day he still preach that to me for real, for real.
There are some things that come from being a part of, or being a part of a community, and forming that bond. Now, I’m not going to ask you anything to incriminate yourself. This ain’t Vlad and we don’t do that shit over here. But can you describe that feeling of being outside and being a part of something at that time?
Pacman da Gunman: At the time, it was fun. I ain’t gonna cap. You got all your friends. We wasn’t worried about dying. We wasn’t worried about going to jail—or nothing negative. We was just living life. You had no worries. You ain’t got no bills. Just enjoying life, bro. It was a dope feeling. I felt welcome. I felt like I was part of something. I felt like family. The love was there. It was all laughs and all that.
You mentioned people getting locked up and cats in your age group going to keep. Can you speak to people getting locked up and how that impacts you and those around you?
Pacman da Gunman: We didn’t look at it as a big deal. It wasn’t until high school comes. We’re of age now. Niggas getting charged as adults when they’re 15, 16, 17 and going down for murders. Getting all of this time and getting life. That’s when it was like, “Damn. This shit is for real—for real.” That’s when you learned you can’t be out here playing like that. And that’s when the strategic side comes in at. I have a lot of friends that ain’t coming home and all that shit.
Death is also going to be a part of the game. It is what it is as a harsh reality. Can you speak to how you’ve been able to deal with it, or cope with the reality of signing up and death being a part of it?
Pacman da Gunman: You really doing this without a conscience. Some people learn from experience. I think a lot of people learn from experience. If you take that step in joining something, you don’t look at it like, “Ay, this could kill me.” Or, “I could go do life.” You just dive in head first. And you go on your journey. It’s up to you to learn from your journey. We jumped in with no conscience, bro. You never know what to expect. It’s like music. That’s why I treat music the way I treat life. It’s a journey, bro. And you ain’t got no destination on it. You don’t know where you going. That’s how it be.
Without a doubt, L.A. is known for its wild ass police. LAPD is widely known as the most brutal and savage of police departments. I don’t want to spend too long on this but for someone like you, who’s had first hand experience with them getting in your shit multiple times a day, pulling you over, can you speak to the LAPD as someone who’s had to maneuver around them, and what that energy feels like that comes from them?
Pacman da Gunman: I call ‘em the devils man. They wake up and they don’t plan to fuck up yo’ day. It’s just naturally embedded into their system, their minds, their hearts. “Let’s go to the ghetto and fuck with the adolecsents. Let’s go harass them. Let’s go diss they hood. Let’s go bump ‘em up. There he go again. This the third time we’ve seen him. Let’s see if he dirty again. Or if he dirty now.” They wake up and just do fuck shit. I ain’t never had no good experience with the police. They evil bro. They not here to protect and serve. They here to harass. Because when shit goes down, where do they be? They don’t protect to serve. They just react to shit. They come and put out the tape for the coroner. And I’ve seen some weird shit. I’m accusing them of being involved with it. But they’ll come and disarm you. Take you to jail. Take the homie to jail for a gun. Then 10, 15 minutes later somebody just got murdered where they came to disarm people at. They have a different agenda. I don’t like nothing about ‘em. They not helpful at all cuz. The first time I got pulled over I was 9 years old working at an after school program called, “Boys to Men.” It was at Hyde Park elementary. This was probably like 2000. I’m walking home. I’m like two building from my apartment and the gang unit pulls up, makes us stand on the gate, and search us for like 10 minutes. I’m 9 years old. I can’t make this shit up. Ever since then I been like, “This shit is wild.”
I want to ask a question while being delicate about Nipsey. So, first, my condolences and Rest in Peace NIpsey. You were there for the final lap that he took through L.A.. You know the politics of L.A. and the different communities. Can you speak to what that lap meant?
Pacman da Gunman: I think a lot of people understood that because there are a lot of people that come from the same kind of environment and situations we come from. Nigga, Hussle came from L.A. From one of the most notorious and scandalous hoods in Los Angeles. And it’s tricky. The neighborhood is tricky. So for somebody to make an impact on the world…I still have conversations about how this nigga Hussle was able to go get all that love from the South, all that love from the East, all that love from the rival gangs in L.A. How he was able to fill that void and make that connection. That’s just some shit that niggas can’t figure out. That shit is dope. That’s one of the top points about Hussle.
For me, it was seeing him grow and bring his people with him. It’s rare where someone reaches that level of success and still keeps it a bean with everybody around them. The fact that we’re having this conversation is an example of that. You’re able to establish yourself and start businesses because of the love that y’all had, and the ability for him to recognize talent. I think that’s what reverberates. It’s so much more than the music. It’s the feeling that if I make it, I can take my dawgs with me and we can all shine.
Pacman da Gunman: He ain’t keep no secrets. He ain’t hide no game. He ain’t never told a nigga nothing wrong. Even when I’d pull up to the studio to spark up a conversation. Even if it was something negative he would low-key dead it. It was album mode or whatever. This is when I first started rapping though. I’d be talking about some shit going down in the hood—some bullshit. And he’d nip in in the bud like, “That’s not the kind of vibrations we on.” I was learning that way and taking shit in. Me and cuz would talk and I’d tell me I’d do stuff for people and they wouldn’t say thank you. And cuz would tell me, “Don’t do stuff for a reaction. Do stuff because you want to.” And ever since then, that’s what I’ve been living up to. If I help somebody, it’s because I want to. I ain’t looking for nothing in return. That’s one of the best things cuz ever told me. It was like two in the morning and we was just driving around L.A. Trying to put a plan together. We was putting together a play and just talking. That’s what stuck with me that night.
That’s dope. Giving from the heart is when people feel it. In terms of L.A. culture, it’s everywhere. What is it about L.A. culture that all of these other places want to be like y’all?
Pacman da Gunman: It’s natural, bro. Growing up I saw what was going on, as far as the older homies. I liked that and wanted to be like it. I think it’s the same way. Because now, if you look, dudes in L.A. will wear some grills. That’s a South thing. I think we share the culture with each other. And it’s dope like that. If we like something we can take from it. I wish instead of taking the negative, which is banging, they would have took some positive, as far as leadership, from everybody being on some Crip and Blood shit. Being on some Marcus Garvey type stuff. That type of movement.
If we’re looking larger, in terms of cats like you, people from your community, where do you think those on the outside looking in get us wrong?
Pacman da Gunman: I don’t know. They don’t understand. They ain’t experience what we’ve been through. It’s foreign to them. You ain’t gonna get it unless you experience it. I don’t give a fuck how much research you do. How big your magnifying glass is. You just won’t get it unless you experience it. And just because you don’t understand it, that don’t make us wrong for what we do and our decisions. That just makes it foreign to you. If that’s the case, everybody’s wrong. Don’t forget how they did the original people here. Look what they did to Jesus Christ. It’s deeper than what we doing. It’s deeper than gang banging. It’s deeper than L.A. shit. It’s deeper than us killing each other. History repeats itself.
On a more positive note and forgetting about those people, your community, your area, your section has produced some of the brightest stars we’ve seen. When is about Crenshaw and that district that you could say produces all of this greatness that shines on such a large scale?
Pacman da Gunman: Success is contagious, bro. If you see it, you gonna want it. For the people that don’t want it—shame on ‘em. We natural born hustlers. We see somebody else shine, you gonna do what you gotta do to shine. Because you don’t want to be left behind.
In bringing that thinking full circle, and nobody being left behind, you are a member of All Money In. What did it mean to you to be part of a label that is made up of people from your community?
Pacman da Gunman: It was unexpected. That shit was dope. It started as a friendship first. It don’t feel like business. It don’t feel like a job or work. It feels like a family. Everybody loves each other. It’s so dope that I can’t really put it into words. It love fa sho’. It’s beyond this rap shit. It’s beyond what people will ever understand.
Knowing All Money In and the incredible minds behind it. You have Blacc Sam, Adam, and RIP Fatts. They all had this vision. They knew what they wanted to do and how to put it together. What would you say is the best piece of advice that you’ve gotten along the way?
Pacman da Gunman: The thing that they programmed in me was to never quit. No matter what it is. Go for it. Go get it. If you fail, go back to the drawing board and remap it out. But I think that’s the best advice that they showed by demonstration. They live by demonstration. Every type of route I’ve been on. Some was negative but I pushed through it and got it done. You can’t quit what’s destined.
Books are a major part of your circle and where a lot of these ideas come from. Are there any books that you’ve picked up to gain inspiration?
Pacman da Gunman: I got a cool little library at my studio. Nip gave me a few ideas. JP gave me some game on some books. This one book called Power vs. Force. I haven’t had time to finish it but that book became my whole life. Hussle had a professional library. He gave me another book called Damn Good Advice (For People With Talent). I was talking to JP about this the other day and he gave that book to Hussle, and Hussle gave it to me. When I’m talking to my homies in jail with life I be giving them books to hopefully help them get through. They’ll read it and call you, and quic you on the shit. [laughs]
If I’m not mistaken this is your 19th project, correct?
Pacman da Gunman: Man. I lost count, bro. Actually, when we hang up, I’m going to have to count. [laughs] It’s somewhere around there. It’s up there.
The reason I ask that is because I saw in an interview you talked about being surprised by the reception you got for No Guts | No Glory because of the amount of tapes you’d already dropped. For you, and already talking about not giving up, what kept you going after all of those early projects?
Pacman da Gunman: I just heard Hussle telling me, “Don’t Quit! Don’t Stop!” I even got texts with Hussle and we’re talking about my work ethic. He talked to a few people about my work ethic. Hussle was one of the few reasons that kept me going. And I just gotta keep getting the message out. I want to speak for my people. I want to speak for the hood. I want to speak for the community. For the people who can’t be heard. I’m just motivated. And I’m not a quitter. If I want it done, it’s gotta get done. Once I record a song, I know I have to keep going. I just kept going.
After listening to this tape I pulled out some lines that hit me the hardest. On the intro “Sin or Bless” there’s a bar in there that says, “Never had a hoop dream. I just want to make the news.” Now, in me knowing cats that made the news, and knowing what that means, there’s a reality there that says, “If I’m going to do this, I’m going to be the best at it.” Can you speak to moments like that?
Pacman da Gunman: I was speaking from my younger perspective. That whole record is old events that are based on real life. When I say that, I was never interested in playing sports. I didn’t care about football, basketball, I just wanted to be Pacman, Rollin’ 60’s, and our goal is to go score. Go play ball and make the news. That was the mentality that grew in me. It’s sad we were thinking like that but that’s how you gain respect.
On “Regardless” you speak to cats hating whether you’re broke or flossing. Some people you just can’t make ‘em happy. They won’t be happy for you. And the hate comes with it no matter what. Can you speak to being in an environment where everybody won’t be happy for your success or people are actively working against you with negativity?
Pacman da Gunman: Don’t nobody want you doing better than them in life—period. I done dealt with that. I done heard the conversations that were talked about behind my back, as far as the homies. Homies that have a conversation, talk shit, and when I pop up tell me, “[He] was saying this, that, and the third.” It’s just natural born hate. Another thing…I’ve heard shit said about bro and I’ll take it to the studio, and cuz will say, “Man. God Bless ‘em.” I used to get mad when I’d hear niggas talking shit about me. And when I hear them talk about Nip, they ain’t never ‘round. It’s second hand information. Then when I go tell Nip he’d say, “God Bless ‘em.” He’d say, “I wish the best for ‘em.” It ain’t gonna make or break me. How you feel about me ain’t gonna stop my money. It ain’t gonna create no money. That’s how I deal with it. I’m still going through that shit right now. It don’t bother me none. You know, I’m doing hella well. [laughs]
On “Runnin’ Outta Space” you have Boosie, who’s one of the most entertaining cats out there. You speak to having good problems. You just said you’re doing hella good. You talk about needing a new house. You talk about having too many cars. Can you tell me a little bit about how you feel right now in your life since you’ve worked to this point?
Pacman da Gunman: I’m appreciative. I feel grateful but not content. I want to push it to the limit. Get what I’m owed out of all this grinding, all this hustling, all this hard work. I’m appreciative of everything I’ve got. I don’t trip on the material shit. As long as my family’s straight, alive and healthy, and comfortable that’s all that matters. I can’t take none of this shit with me. It’s cool to brag on it a few times.
You close the project out with “Blow It.” On it, you talk about being the last of a dying breed. What does that feel like to look up and realize you’re one of the last real niggas left?
Pacman da Gunman: I caught the end of the real era. I can’t really explain it. As far as this gang shit, it’s goofy now. It used to be structured. It used to be family-orientated. Now, it’s all goofy shit. Don’t nobody follow the rules. I come from the generation where they just threw the rule book out. I’m from the generation that I was able to be part of the rule book. I lived through the rule book. I followed the rule book. Everything after me kind of got loose because niggas threw the rules way. That pretty much sums it up.
Before we go, I want to talk about your brand Play Ball. It’s an extension of you, where you, and its fire. I saw when you started the brand you were overwhelmed by the demand. Where are you now running the brand?
Pacman da Gunman: I started this when I first started rapping. The name “Play Ball” came from the streets. We’d go do some bullshit in other people’s hoods. Then go back and spray paint, “Play Ball.” That’s where it came from because I was still active. I didn’t expect the music shit to take off how it did. So it was more so, “I’m going to put this on a tee shirt, sell it, and we can get 10 dollars.” Then it converted into an actual brand. I lost interest because it was overwhelming. I’m by myself. THis is my brand. I’m getting these orders. You have to think about it. At the time, I had to go downtown to buy all the shirts. Take them to the Slauson Swap Meet to print them up. The Slauson Swap Meet is gang activity no matter what day you going. You gonna run into niggas trippin’. I didn’t even feel like dealing with all that so I got overwhelmed. I needed assistance. I didn’t get any. So I kind of fell back. Then my boy, John, tapped in with me and was like, “Man. I’m a fan of the brand. I fuck with it. I think we can take this to a higher level. So I end up doing a 50 percent partnership. He’s the co-owner of Play Ball. Because when I walked away, he tapped in. He motivated me. He invested in the brand. He went hard. The brand has turned into something else, in terms of something positive. We just want to keep it going. He a dope partner. I ain’t even know it. JP introduced us. Shoutout to John for taking this to another level.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned running a clothing company?
Pacman da Gunman: I learned that quality matters. Timing matters. When they order up, you gotta send their shit. [laughs] Or they gonna attack you. I also learned patience too.
Where do you see Play Ball going from here? Do you have aspirations to be in a certain store, or collab with a certain brand over the next few years?
Pacman da Gunman: We’re not thinking years. We going by the weeks. Like, right now we’re working on cut & sew. Instead of going shirts on wholesale, we going cut & sew. We getting the essentials together and doing shit like that. We already in the process. This is within 5 weeks.
Over the past 3-4 years, things have been pretty crazy for you. Where you are right now, how do you feel about your journey up to this point, and what do you want to see moving forward?
Pacman da Gunman: I’m appreciative, bro. For one, this ain’t something that I planned on doing. It was something I liked to do. It just ended up happening and worked out well for me. So I appreciate that. In the future we need the brand to be in multiple strip malls, shows in London, Japan, and all that for the brand. As far as the music, we need to have compounds. And places to make music for the up and comers.
How about life away from music?
Pacman da Gunman: Peace, happiness, and good health. Everything else is gonna follow once you got that.