From the Streets to the pages: The Birth of Block Party by AL-Saadiq Banks. How it all started.

My journey to writing "Block Party" began with a conversation I had in my early street days, early 90s, with an old timer. He shared a piece of wisdom, telling me that when you can't resort to violence over money, it's time to leave the streets, as your days are numbered. That conversation I never forgot.  Years later, around 2001, I had an epiphany during self-reflection: I no longer desired to harm people over unpaid debts. My heart wasn't in the streets or the game; I was only maintaining a lifestyle.

The birth of my first daughter changed everything. I no longer wanted to risk being taken away from her, ending up in jail, or worse. I prayed for a way out, never knowing what that way would be. This new fear factor motivated me to seek my true purpose. During a six-month hibernation, I turned to writing. It began as a rap but evolved into a book titled "No Exit," reflecting my belief that there was no escape from the street life.

After completing "No Exit," I embarked on another story. It revolved around a man in his thirties, Cashmere, who no longer had his heart in the game, witnessing the transformation of the streets and the younger generation's loss of respect for the old heads. The ruthless young character, Mayor, represented the younger generation. As Newark transitioned from cocaine to heroin, the stakes and murder count rose.  The dope game was a revolution. It was totally different than the cocaine trade.  The dope brought a different type of traffic.  Addicts traveled from near and far.  They gathered in huddles on the corners and formed lines into alleys to get their fix.  It resembled a party leading me to title the book "Block Party."

Slim, a character, represented the old timers who'd overstayed their welcome, getting consumed by the dope. He served as a warning for hustlers who'd listen, showing how easily the game could take them over. "Block Party" depicted the coexistence of the new and old generations, at times peacefully and at times violently. It also illustrated the impact of drugs on the community, the introduction of gangs on the East Coast.  Block Party showed how the good die young in the game or they are eaten alive.  Block Party showed how a good man straddling the fence, one foot in the game, and the other in the household as a husband and a father figure can end badly.  Block Party shows the traumatizing effects the death of the head of the household has on those who depend on him.  

"Block Party" was more than a book; it was a warning and a bird's-eye view of the game. It represented an era and a specific time in the streets.