An eyewitness to the fateful circumstances that unfolded 28 years ago on this date tells about his relationship with the legendary BX hood hero

November 19, 1986. A day that forever changed the course of my life. Yet, several years prior to that fateful night, my life was changed in a very different way after meeting Larry for the first time in the house his mother owned on 165th St. and Woodycrest Avenue on the Westside of the Bronx.

Our first meeting was upstairs in one of the bedrooms which seemed to have been converted into a makeshift movie theatre. The feature presentation was actually a “stag” film or what we now call a porno. While watching the stag film, I noticed this stocky dude who kept looking at the Zulu chain dangling from my neck – a chain given to me by Afrika Bambaataa, founder of The Universal Zulu Nation. At some point, the stocky dude who my brother Rahiem Shabazz said was “Larry” walked over to me and asked to look at the chain. He asked about my affiliation with The Zulu Nation and after telling him that I was an original member and an MC in one of the Zulu Nation groups, The Tragic Force, Larry then explained how he was a DJ and had his own DJ set in his room on the floor below us.

Seeing we had something in common, he invited me to his room to see his DJ equipment. Once inside the small bedroom. he cut the equipment on, grabbed the mic and passed it to me, asking me to show him my skills. As I began rapping, the second floor became crowded with his family and my family cheering me on. Larry ended up getting behind the turntables and DJing himself. This was the first time Larry and I performed together and it was the start of what became a musical partnership.

The very next day after seeing me perform at The Skate Fever Roller Rink and realizing I was living on the streets as a homeless teen, Larry offered me sanctuary in his home and I became a member of his family. He and I shared the small bedroom and would eventually turn it into our own recording studio where we would create music 24 hours a day.

In addition to having our own recording studio, we established two record companies and secured a deal with Columbia Records via Mr. William Underwood, one of the top talent managers at the time and a very prominent music executive at the time. With mentoring by Mr. Underwood, Kool DJ Red Alert, Jazzy Jay and others, we were set to do big things in the music business.

So as I remember Larry Davis, on this 28th Anniversary of the shootout, I remember the person who as a young teen rescued me from the streets; who was devoted to Hip Hop as a DJ and to music as a musician, producer, and entrepreneur. A person whose passion for music far outweighed his passion for the streets. A man of many talents whose dream was to become successful in the music business as an artist, producer, and entrepreneur. Yet, it was the height of the crack era and the streets derailed a life full of promise. Just as we were on the brink of success, the Shootout happened and that dream became A Dream Deferred.

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore—

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over—

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

-Shams Dabaron