Yello: Booked, Behind Bars

“God, please pardon your son, my mind was young and my feet were unable to outrun where I’m from.” Yello begins his first book, Respect the Jux, with this fitting quote. A onetime thief, Yello saw his life of crime come to an abrupt end when he was arrested and decided to take the blame […]

“God, please pardon your son, my mind was young and my feet were unable to outrun where I’m from.”

Yello begins his first book, Respect the Jux, with this fitting quote. A onetime thief, Yello saw his life of crime come to an abrupt end when he was arrested and decided to take the blame for his entire crew. Clearly one to honor the code of the streets, Yello explains what the term “jux” really means and how it came to become his reality.

Still incarcerated, Yello has completed over 20 manuscripts and is completing his transition from living out Hollywood-esque robberies to simply sharing stories about them. To what extent the stories Yello pens are the stories that Yello once lived out is still a mystery but Yello sits down with to help answer this question as well as many more. When did you first come up with the idea to write the book?

Yello: In 2003, after my second parole board hearing. I’ve always wanted to write a book, but it just seemed overwhelming to put a book together. The thing was though was then when I decided to actually sit down and do it, I realized that it was something really easy for me to do. I ended up knocking the book out in less than two weeks, and I got addicted after that, which resulted in about 20 books. So what are you doing with the rest of the manuscripts?

Yello: Well, they’ll be on the shelf until Christ [Yello’s business partner] decides to pull ’em off or what’s his next move wit’ the books. So what are some of the other books about that you’ve written?

Yello: They’re basically pretty much the same urban hood novels. However, I always try to bring sometime of different twist to my particular books. The ones that are out there are dope, but if you’ve read one, you’ve pretty much read ’em all. I try to bring mine across to show that some thought actually went into this, there’s an actual plot to it. If you notice in Respect the Jux, one of the things I try to focus on is that I didn’t want it to be guys just running around randomly just robbing people with no care. I wanted some structure to go into it. And that’s what I did when I decided to put together the order described in the book, described in the book as the Order of Thieves. How long have you been incarcerated for and how long do you have left?

Yello: I’ve been incarcerated twelve and a half years, and my next parole eligibility will be in January of 2008. My conditional release date is May, 2008. How did you actually write these books while you were incarcerated? What was the process and how do you feel it was different than someone writing a book on the outside?

Yello: I started out just sketching the books out, just getting a basic rough draft and sketching out scenes that I thought would be interesting. When I sat down to type it I built around those scenes. I’ve gotten to the point now where I can just sit down in front of a typewriter with just the name of the book, names of characters, and I just freestyle the whole book. The plot and everything comes as I go along. You say you have a typewriter now but how did you first write your manuscripts?

Yello: I wrote ’em down by hand. I’d buy a 100-page notebook and I’d sketch the book out from page one to 100. What kind of limitations did you have and how did they improve your writing abilities?

Yello: For me it was finding a way to help me do the time. After my second parole board hit, I needed something to help me do the time. I didn’t mind doing the time because it was an escape to help me get away from a lot of the things that go on in prison that could get me caught up. So for me, sitting down and writing was an escape, and it also taught me discipline. It made me realize that if I want something done, I really have to sit down and just do the work. So, exactly what kind of ideas did you have in mind when you started writing Respect the Jux and how did that change by the time the manuscript was done?

Yello: Honestly, the only thing I had was the name Respect the Jux and the definition of the word “Jux”. And having being caught up in that lifestyle, I figured with that name I was sure that as I went along I would be able to pull pieces from my life and put them down in the book and build around them. I can’t say I really had a plot or an ending, it all just came during the writing process. It all just fell into place. The characters basically told the story, and all the characters in the book have something of me in them. Do you think it was difficult to draw from your life?

Yello: It made it easier for me because I can produce one of these books from start to finish in less than two weeks, and I’m able to do this because I’m just going back through my own life. I just pull things out and I build around them. So do you plan to pursue the writing when you’re out, or is it something else you have in mind as well?

Yello: Yes, I do. The thing is, with me, when I walk out of prison I’ll be walking out with all the material already done. It’s just a matter of sending them to print. Do you plan to go back through some of your other manuscripts and polish them a little or are they done and ready to send to print?

Yello: Yeah, that’s a possibility, you know, polishing them up. I would probably have someone with more knowledge in this area look them over and give advice to what could be done to make them better. You said you wanted to get the definition of the word “jux” out there for everyone, so why don’t you define it as you see it.

Yello: The word “jux” is a Jamaican word. The word literally translated into English is to poke someone, or to stick someone or something, that’s the literal meaning of the word. When performing a jux, the art of it is to rob someone by studying their every move and to keep in mind that in this process of robbery that whoever you’re robbing must take precautions to make sure that they don’t get hurt. You must never rob a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen. And the number one rule is to get away. If you don’t get away, then the jux cannot be respected. How do you make sure that the people that you do rob are not law abiding citizens?

Yello: Once you pick your target you’re not gonna pick someone who is a liquor store owner, you’re gonna pick someone who you have some advanced knowledge about. You know this person is involved in some form of illegal activity and that’s how they get their money. They’re in the same game you’re in. Do you think it’s hard to rob a fellow robber?

Yello: Not necessarily. I don’t think robbing a thief or a drug dealer would be any harder because each one of them is looking to protect their property. If they’re looking to protect their property, how do you make sure you get away with it?

Yello: That all depends on the setup. It would be difficult to expand on that because you would actually have to look at the setup. I would say robbing someone in an apartment building would be very dangerous because the potential of witnesses. Anyone could look out of their apartment door and their window and become a witness, so that’s one of the rules in the jux. How long was the planning phase for most of the activities that you guys took part in?

Yello: could take months, it could take about six months. But you’re not just necessarily working on one job. You might be working on several jobs and one in particular could take six to eight months before you can actually get in the right position to where you can assure a smooth getaway and that no one gets hurt. Another jux could happen in a day. You might have all of the necessary information needed right there and you can size the situation up and say, “Okay, I can get away with this right now.” So for a boost that took you six months to plan, how much could you look to make out of it?

Yello: It depends. The jux business is very funny. You could walk into a situation and not find what you thought was there or what the information you got [told] was there. The information could say that there was $200,000 there, and you could walk in there and there’s only $500. These things have happened. You can walk in a situation and get nothing at all after all the planning you put into it. You just have to handle it when it happens. You understand that that’s just apart of the game. That’s just how it goes. After all the time and effort you can walk out with nothing. What was the biggest payoff you ever saw?

Yello: I would say about 800,000. Who was that from?

Yello: A drug dealer. Who would you say usually had the most money on ’em, would it be drug dealers?

Yello: Yeah, drug dealers. Would you actually get involved with the drug dealers a little bit to gather more information as well?

Yello: Yeah, sometimes. Actually, most of the time. If you need more inside information about them, sometimes it turns into an inside job. It could be a girlfriend of theirs, or you can actually set a girl up on them. How difficult is it to turn someone against someone else? Let’s say it was one of their girlfriends, how difficult was the process to turn them against their boyfriends?

Yello: Money is the root of all evil, they say. And how much would you usually offer someone in that position?

Yello: It depends on how much they say is there. I’ve had females who know what I’m into just come to me and say, “Look, I know this cat here.” A lot of times in that situation they find out the boyfriend is cheating and they want to get back. A lot of times I might just have the girlfriends give me the keys to the place and I’d walk right in when the person isn’t there. So what was the easiest job you guys ever did?

Yello: Usually the ones with the keys to the place. So you just get the keys and literally walk in?

Yello: Yeah, and walk out. Usually in those situations we were able to go back again because they have no idea who or what happened. What’s the greatest number of times that you been back to the same place?

Yello: About three times. Not to the same place, but the same individual. What was the most complicated job that you guys did? How long did it take and what type of planning was involved?

Yello: That’s kind of sensitive to answer. Keep in mind that I’m still incarcerated and I have another parole board appearance and I don’t want this to affect my parole appearance in any way. I don’t want to look like I’m glorifying this type of lifestyle, because I’m not. It’s just something in my past. This is why I write books now because I’m finished with it. The question is a little sensitive. Do you think the books have made it harder for you to get parole so far?

Yello: Not at this point. It might help me, who knows. I might be able to say this is what I do now. You don’t have to worry about me going in the street sticking a gun in someone’s face.

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