Andre Taylor identified strongly with Daniel from the Bible, who interpreted the visions and dreams of kings. And like Daniel, he spent 3 years in a Babylonian captivity of sorts. But Daniel never had quite the unorthodox career path of Andre.
Produced by Nick Williams, Nick van der Kolk, Brendan Baker, and Alexander Jerri. Sound design by Brendan Baker, with musical contributions Ghosts.
Additional help from Hannah Withers, Jake de Grazia, and Katie McMurran.Transcript
One day I was just walking by Pike Place Market, a very popular place in Seattle, Washington, where they’ve got fresh seafood and all this stuff, and I see this black man coming from like a block down and he’s talking to himself. As he’s coming closer, I’m hearing what he’s saying. He says, “I’d rather go the way of a bear robbed of her whelps than go the way of a fool.” He just kept saying that to himself. “I’d rather go the way of a bear robbed of her whelps than go the way of a fool. I’d rather go the way of a bear robbed of her whelps than go the way of a fool.”
Now, I know that Bible real good because I had it devoured and I know it’s the Scripture. So when he got to me I said to him, “All a fool needs is love, just like everybody else,” and my God, why did I say that? When I said that to that man, that man began to prophesy to me, he got to telling me things that only I knew. I was sitting there, shocked and scared at the same time, and I wanted to ask him, like “How the hell did you know this stuff about me?” And he just said, “What I have was given to me to give to you.” He said, “You know, God has made you a shepherd over his sheep. God has made you a salesman.” He said, “You know, Moses brought the law, but you will bring God’s love.” And then he said this to me: “One day you’re gonna tell this story to a lot of people.” He said, “No matter where you’re at, I’m gonna look you up again.” And you know, the Bible says “Be careful how you entertain strangers, for many have entertained angels unaware.” I never saw him again, but that was like the foundation of a lot of things, of me feeling that God had always been with me and that he had something special and important for me to do in my future. He said to me, “It’s not gonna be easy, it’s gonna be real hard,” and boy, I tell you, he wasn’t lying. What was you gonna say?
* * *
At two years old my father got me and took me to Los Angeles, and my dad put me in the custody of my grandmother and my aunt. He didn’t want me to be really around the lifestyle that he was participating in.
Could you talk about your father’s lifestyle?
Yeah, I’mma get into that. You know, I really wasn’t aware when I was a little younger of what he was doing. I got a good allowance, I know that. I was ten, eleven-years-old, getting 125 dollars a week.
What does a ten-year-old do with 120 dollars a week?
Take all his friends out. 25 now, don’t short me five. 125. [laughs]
He influenced me to read, and he made me want to be smart. I wanted to speak like him, I wanted to be sharp, I wanted to be witty, I wanted to have information and knowledge, and he represented that to me. My dad would always explain to me, “Before you become a doctor, before you’re a lawyer, you’ve got to be a man first. You have to stand up for principles, integrity and character. You’ve got to be a man.”
Seeing the women coming in and out of the house, I understood that my father was a lady’s man. I didn’t put a title to it, but I realized that a lot of women liked him and he was getting a lot of money.
My father was a pimp. Now, when I say ‘pimp’, the media portrays this individual who is inarticulate, a colorful guy with these big hats and flashy clothes, somebody who looked like a clown. Well, my dad looked like a businessman and quoted Shakespeare. I went out to be like him. I devoured information and read great minds and great thinkers, and then I had the opportunity to the street life to apply some of these fundamentals.[Let me tell you, I had a dream, years ago. And in this dream, I’d seen Jesus. He was walking, and he walked up to this mountain and he’d levitate up this mountain to me. And I’ve seen him, and it’s the weirdest thing because he had cowboy boots on. Jesus had cowboy boots on. And Jesus said to me “Two kings shall rise up against you.” Right? I never knew what the hell that meant.]
It’s funny saying it now, but back then I didn’t wanna have anything to do with a whole bunch of women. You would think it would have a different effect on me, but it didn’t. I just wanted one girl that I could be with — it probably was because I was exposed to families in the valley. When I went over my friends’ house they had their mom, their dad, they had structure, and I wanted what I saw in their lives.
I had a friend named Andre Witherspoon, my best friend. We used to go to the clubs together, get girls together and everything. Andre had a drug problem and he went to a drug program and he got saved. And he came and tried to tell me about it, and I was like “Boy, you better save that and tell somebody else that stuff.” He said, “Well, just do this: on your own time, Andre, just get by yourself and ask God ‘Is this the way?’” I said, “Well, that’s something that I could do,” and something made me feel like I’m gonna go to church. So when I got saved at 16, born again at 16, I ran into that. Whenever I go after something, I go after it. There’s no partiality with me, I’m just one extreme to the other.
There’s a place in Seattle called Seward Park, and everybody in the summertime goes down there to parlay and to showcase. I go down there with a bullhorn and preach. “You need Jesus!!” I’m one of those guys; I was one of those guys. [laughs] People thought I lost my mind.
My dad said I lost my mind. “This boy went crazy.” He called all family, relatives, my aunt Vanessa down in LA… “He went crazy!” He didn’t believe in organized religion. “Do you know what the Catholic Church did?” I said, “I’m not a Catholic though.” There was so much done in the name of religion, and he believed in a supreme being, but he just didn’t believe in organized religion.
I knew that I would never be able to become my own man until I could stand up for something my father didn’t believe in. And that’s when I went on my own. My dreams, you know, I learned from a little young age, you can refer to the Bible about certain things. Flying means faith, water could mean purity, bread could mean purity also, because it symbolizes the blood of Jesus. If you know the Bible, you can take and relate things.
I just wanted to know when you started to get disillusioned. Are there any specific events that made you say, “Well, this may not be where I want to be”?
I got two girls pregnant at the same time. They weren’t girls; I was only 17, they were grown women. One was 29, one was 24. They was messing with me, but the church blamed me for it. I’m a little boy. Any other time I was just a child. Two women, I’m telling you, and one of the women I end up marrying. I felt pressure from the church. I didn’t want her. She was grown, I’m a little boy having an experience with a woman. I was like, “Wow, a grown woman?” But, you know, I felt pressure to do the right thing, so at 18 I got married to her; she was 30.
Remember, I grew up around “anything is possible.” This woman, she didn’t have that kind of idea, so anything I went after, she’d fight me. Every major move I wanted to do, this girl would fight. You know, the places we wanna stay. She’d be so fearful; she’s in fear because she’s not used to having anything, you know?
I can explain to you the psychology that I know exists. When a little white girl grows up, she’s walking down the street, looks around, she sees the banks, the stores, these corporations, she sees all of that’s owned by white folks. Nine times out of ten, that little white girl knows somebody rich in her family, so when you tell this woman, “Let’s go make a million dollars,” “Let’s go. Let’s go make two.” The little black girl is growing up and she’s walking around her neighborhood and she looks around, sees the banks and corporations, and she don’t see none of that owned by black people. Nine times out of ten, there ain’t nobody rich in her family, so when you tell her “Let’s go make a million dollars,” she’s gonna say “How are we gonna do that?” So therein lies the story with my ex-wife. I went through that, and I found the things that I learned through the scriptures were true, but the people who represented the scriptures were false. I didn’t see the same kind of commitment, I didn’t see the same kind of dedication to things that I’d seen with people that were street people.[I had a dream when I was married, and God said to me “You would get married again, and your wife is gonna be just like you.” And ultimately I found her many moons later, and that happened with me. My dreams come to pass. They come to pass.]
I worked for Nordstrom at data processing, I worked for Nordstrom in sales, I worked in Beverly Hills at Neiman Marcus, in sales, I was a telemarketing manager… There were a lot of things that I did before I became a pimp.
When did you start to get into the life? When did you take on your father’s profession of a pimp?
I needed some money. That’s it, in a nutshell. And hey, one of the things I was gifted at was dealing with people. My first prostitute, she came to me, I didn’t even come to her. We were driving down the street and we saw these girls in a car, driving in the opposite direction, and we honked at them. I asked the girl, the blonde, “Do you got a boyfriend?” She said, “Yeah.” I said, “Well, can I see you?” She said, “Maybe for a weekend.” She was a Jehovah’s Witness, and they were gonna come do their whatever, Jehovah’s Witness in my area; this was gonna allow her to come see me. But you know what she told me? That her and her friend was looking for a pimp. I wasn’t no pimp, but I wasn’t gonna tell her I wasn’t. I was like, “Man…”
1991 September, that’s when it started. And I was on my way, Jones.
* * *
You know, I was different right from the gate. I grew up in the valley of Los Angeles, where the term ‘valley girl’ was coined from, so my look had a little flair: the little curl on top, clean look, clean shaven, wore suits. You know, I didn’t wear the velour sweat suits with a big chain around my neck, I wasn’t that way. Back then they had Jheri curls; they had long Jheri curls, that greasy stuff all over, and they just were flamboyant and loud, and I was none of that.
Whenever they show depictions of hustlers, of African-Americans, it’s always depicted with violence. If they show an Italian mobster, they will show how brilliant he is. Meyer Lansky, Jewish – they will show the brilliance of the man. But they don’t want to show that, that it takes a great significant amount of brilliance in order to achieve the things that I was able to achieve.
Why do you think that a lot of pimps are predominantly black?
I think oppression creates underground hustlers like that. Before there was black pimps, there was Italian gangsters pimpin’. When the people are in oppressed situations they have to be creative in ways to find money. As a rule, I never allowed my girls to date black guys or Mexicans.
Why was that?
Everything in life breaks down to mathematical percentages. The mathematics weren’t on the side of a black guy or a Mexican. There could be the potential for violence easier, and because they’re not used to being around money – like I told you, I grew up in the valley – if you’re not used to having money, you’re not as free with the money. For instance, you might see a painting that might be like a bunch of scribble, and it might be a Picasso. The average person looks at it and says, “Why would I pay three million dollars for that?” Well, you’re not supposed to be there, this is not for you. You need to be in a place where people can appreciate what they’re seeing. So I’m not saying every black person, every Mexican, but on the most part I just eliminate it altogether.
If you’re gonna charge a thousand dollars, you gotta say “Well, how much is it?” Don’t say “A, a thousand dollars…” Don’t be unsure. As a matter of fact flip it so great, you make it sound like it’s nothing. “So how much is it?” “Oh, it’s only a thousand dollars.” You have professional tricks out who’ll they try to used-car sale you, talk you down. “Well, would you take 899?” This is what you say to that kind of individual – you touch him on his shoulder, you have class – you say, “Sweetie, I’m sure that there’s a lot of women in this city that would love to have your 899, but when you’re ready to see me for the thousand dollars, I’ll be around. You have a wonderful evening,” and you walk away with class. Now, if he says “Wait!” we’ve got his butt. Because we’ve done several things here: we’ve let him know that this is a nonsense business woman. She doesn’t play about money, it’s not that big of a deal to even have a conversation with him, and he’s not big enough to even deal with her. If he says “Wait,” we’re gonna get a lot of money out of this guy. We’ll never have a problem with money again. It’s great fundamentals.
When the media portrays a prostitute, they don’t portray the real aspects of a prostitute. But the Bible does, and she’s not a victim in the Bible. As a matter of fact, she’s the opposite. In Proverbs, the Bible warns God’s strongest warriors of her! Because the Bible said, “By means of a prostitute, a man is brought to a piece of bread,” and to run from her and flee from her because she has cast down and destroyed many great men. That sounds like a conqueror. A man that sees her, he’s out there married, he has a wife – the moment he comes on our territory, the moment he places himself on our territory where he strays from that to come over on our territory, he’s in violation, not us. You were wrong. If you dishonored your wife and your family, and you’ve chosen to come over here to us, you are in violation, not us. You must pay your due bill. That was my philosophy. And still to this day, if a person has chosen to leave the comforts of their wife and their family, and they choose to jeopardize that and come over on this playing field, then he is at our mercy and he is at our disposal. We will conquer him. My girls are conquerors. We’re gonna break you for thousands, hundreds of thousands. You are in violation and we understand that.
* * *[Let me tell you, I had a dream, and in this dream I seen Jesus, he was walking. And Jesus said to me: “Two kings shall rise up against you.” I knew that it meant that the state of Nevada and the Federal Government, that that represented the two kings because my case was the first time that the state of Nevada and the Federal Government came together to prosecute a pimp case. The first time.]
What did the government charge you with when they caught you?
They created this Mann Act from 1906, and the Mann Act is transporting a person across state lines for immoral purposes. They should call it the Jack Johnson law. Well you know, Jack Johnson had that white woman. At the time, in different places, it was immoral, illegal for a black man to be married to a white woman, so when he took her across state lines they put him in jail. That’s how that law was created, and to this day I see it still snatching people, because it snatched me. And also money laundering. They wanted me to substantiate where the hell I got all that money from. How could you live in this mansion? How can you have all these dang cars, and flying girls all over the country and all this stuff?[And in this dream, I’d seen Jesus, he was walking with these cowboy boots and spurs on. And so I wondered what the spurs meant. And spur means to push you forward. I felt that this was a situation that would get me further, that would get me on the road to where I would become, where I would be. I felt that it was ordained, and I felt that it was spiritual, and I felt that I was safe. I wish that it hadn’t been that way…]
I was in state custody for eight months, federal custody for 12 months, and their conviction rate is pretty high, 97%. And other people that went to trial had come in crying, 25 years, 20 years, 15 years. “Man, don’t go to trial! Dre, don’t go to trial!”[I’ll tell you a particular dream I had when I was in jail during my case. There was a white woman there, in this dream and I saw a spider web in the dream. Spider webs represent time. Whenever you see spider webs, that’s time. So in the dream, these guys, the three guys had sex with the white woman, and I wanted to have sex with her too, but it didn’t happen, so I woke up. I know there was about three guys and they were all thinking about going to trial, and I was thinking about going to trial also. What ended up happening is those three guys changed their minds about going to trial and they took deals. The white woman represented the justice system, America, the government. Having sex with her represented a deal, a partnership. See, people don’t even understand that you might have sex in a dream with an individual, they don’t know, “Why the hell am I having sex with my dad, or with my auntie, or whatever?” People have weird dreams like that when there’s some type of partnership that’s gonna be agreed upon. Even though I wanted to take a deal if they would have came with something proper, I wanted to take a deal. But they never came with anything proper, which forced me to go to trial.
* * *
I was going through trial, facing life in prison, and so I felt that if God would do something special for me, I would have to be in a crisis situation and I would have to utilize faith in order for Him to be real to me in my life. I did not flinch, do you hear me? And smiled. You’re not gonna break me. I knew I didn’t do anything to deserve life in prison. I never hurt nobody. They even brought Lois Lee, who is a psychologist with prostitution cases and all that; they brought her to my trial, a very popular lady, and she was talking about the violence of the relationship between the pimp and the prostitute. The judge stopped her right there, she says “There’s no evidence of any violence in this situation.” It was wonderful, because I was not violent.
I remember when the judge was sentencing me. “Mr. Taylor, is there anything you would like to say?” I knew they was in trouble then. They wanted me to talk? Oh my God. I’m gonna wear them out. I stood up right there. Nick, I said to them, I said “Judge, I was born from the womb of a prostitute by the seed of a pimp. I said at least that’s what society said. But in actuality, this was my mother and my father. The people that loved me, the people that caressed me, the people that fed me. And even if you wanted me to look at them the way that society does, it was impossible for me to look at them like that. They weren’t that to me, and how could they be?” Before that judge would sentence me, he said over that microphone “I cannot sentence Mr. Taylor, because I have a problem with four of these charges.” They kicked out one automatically. The federal judge told my attorney to make a motion; they dismissed four charges, the judge did. Don’t tell me God is not with me. Don’t you tell me God’s not real.
* * *[The first dream God ever gave me, I was 16 years old. He said “I will be the only one on your right hand, everyone else would be on your left.” It was the first thing he ever told me before. “I’ll be the only one you’ll have to rely on, the only one you’ll have to look to. Everyone else will be on your left.” Biblically speaking, your right hand is supposed to be your hand of power, your hand of purpose, your hand of doing.]
I was in state custody for eight months, federal custody for 12 months, so I got sentenced in 2000 and I got out in 2001. I went and came right back. Now, when I got out, they took all my money. When I left Vegas I had told my wife, I said “It’s gonna be tough, I gotta go back and live with my grandmother.”
How did things change for you after you were featured in the documentary?
I was already very, very popular because I was very, very successful; the biggest pimp in the whole country. But when they made American Pimp, which went to the movie theaters, it changed the rap industry, it made the term ‘pimp’ acceptable; you heard newscasters saying, they wanna do things on MTV, “Pimp My Ride.” When I initially got out of prison, everybody knew me. Getting out of a confined place like prison, people are just coming up to you kind of leery, and stuff. “Gorgeous Dre? Oh my God, I could not believe it!”
There’s a lot of people that find themselves in financial dilemmas, but they can’t do nothing about it. You’re talking to an individual that can change his condition in a week. I had the capacity. Young, famous, beautiful – I could do anything. But that was my test. 50 Cent wanted me to do a video with him, I did his P.I.M.P. video; and some guys wanted me to do player’s balls – I didn’t do that stuff when I was pimpin’, that stuff was corny to me. I turned all that stuff down, I didn’t want to be associated with that clownish stuff. I don’t wanna be a novelty. What I was gonna do was gonna be serious, and I said “Well, the novelty is out there and people wanna call on that stuff because it’s provocative right now.” But I chose to do other things, I chose to teach at transitional treatment centers, I chose to go lecture at the colleges and speak at churches. I chose credible things that took a longer time, but they hand longevity connected to them. My father taught me that.
I don’t categorize myself as a preacher – even though there’s preacher in me – because it limits you. The moment you say that you’re a preacher, automatically you lose half of your audience. Not because you’re a preacher, but because what has been done in the name of a preacher. That’s why I’m a life coach, because it allows me and affords me the opportunity to speak on anything I want to, not just religious aspects.
People kept tracking me down, wanting to talk to me. They needed some help, and they felt that I could help them, so I was forced into it. Sometimes people would come up to me when I’m on the street, that recognize me – “Dre, man, give me some game – which is knowledge. Teach me something!” I said, “Man, do you think I can tell you in a 20-minute conversation which cost me years in tears and prison and failures and successes? Do you think I can teach you in a 20-minute conversation all that?” If anybody tells you that, you’d better run fast from them. I can talk to a person in a mini-conversation, they can let me know what’s going on, and I can tell them what they’re doing wrong. I tell them, “Tell me what your girlfriend said. Identical, don’t miss nothing. Tell me what she said, and I can tell you what she’s living out, I can tell you what you need to do and I can tell you when you do this, what she’s gonna do. Just talk to me and tell me.”
Is there anything that you retained from the game that you think still applies to what you do now?
Well, most of it. All the information is applicable to anybody and anything. How are you gonna lose that information? The information is there, I can’t unlearn it. Fundamental principles: no deceit, no underhandedness, live on principle regardless of the consequence behind it. Those are just fundamentals that I used for the game. The other stuff was fluff, but the foundational things I use to this day.
My perspective is the lifestyle might have been immoral, as pre-marital sex is immoral, but to this day I feel that it’s not criminal. My view, Nick, is that God is not looking at man to decide what’s legal and what’s not illegal. God has a standard of right and wrong from the beginning that’s not gonna change because man has changed. And if you think I think God is looking down at me, seeing my condition, seeing where my people have come from, the ills of my condition through generations, and He’s looking down on me and saying “You’re bad, I’m gonna swat you,” I don’t think that he looks like that. I have a different understanding because I’ve read the Bible for myself thoroughly, and not a preacher on this Earth probably knows it like I do. So let me make this statement: I don’t think God looks at life as black and white. Point in case: they say you should not kill. I say, well, that’s not true. You’re looking at it as black and white. God sees shades of gray. What do you mean? Well, if somebody comes into my home to harm my family, to harm my wife, to harm my kids, and in self-defense I kill that man, then does God judge me? “Well, that’s different.” Ah, that’s a shade of gray. So most people don’t read the Bible with shades of gray, they only see it black and white, but God sees shades of gray.
What was your stance on violence in the game?
There are those guys that do exist, just like there are people that are police officers that beat their wives, doctors that beat their wives. It’s not exclusive to pimpin’, there are men that do that, period. Whether you’re a pimp, a doctor, a lawyer, or whatever. As far as the fundamentals of the game is concerned, that is not supposed to be a part of what we do, right? That’s looked down upon, it’s a taboo. Because we feel the moment you have to use your hands and violence to get somebody to do what you want them to do, then you’re weakened.
Well, there is that scene in American Pimp where several men talk about, you know… And they were very casual about it.
Let me tell you this: there was one statement that I liked from a guy named Danny Brown and he says “You know, I’m not for hitting no woman, but people think that a woman can do anything and she don’t deserve to get her butt beat. Like, she can come in there, kick your dog, beat your momma up and that’s gonna be okay. I don’t care if I was a pimp or not pimp – if anybody was gonna come in here, if my momma was living and somebody was coming to whoop my momma, I’m gonna beat whoever then.” So there are situations and circumstances that anybody should get they butt whooped about. Anybody.
This is a subculture with rules, it’s like the mafia; it’s a subculture with rules. The black community is a subculture, right? And the pimp game is a subculture within that, and there are rules that apply. Now, a lot of guys nowadays haven’t had individuals to pass down some of the information to, so they might listen to a rap song, or a movie produced by somebody that knows nothing about the pimp game, and then you have the media perpetrating to you what they think the pimp life is. As long as the media keeps telling you that this pimp is a devil with horns, then what you’re doing is you’re exposing the whole generation of women to a pimp, because that’s the minority. When I was in the life you would have never known I was a pimp. So guys that are really in the game doing well, we enjoy the fact that the media portrays the pimp as this character, because we would say it keeps the cheat up off of us.
See, back in my father’s time the pimp game was… We were renaissance men, this was about finesse. My father told me before I went to prison, he says “You’re gonna have to bring your best finesse game going to prison.” It’s all about finesse. In other words, it’s all about your mind. Who’s the greatest thinker? The greatest pimps were the greatest thinkers.
Why ultimately did you give up the game?
Because I did everything that I could possibly do in it, and I’m glad God allowed me to do that, because if I had not achieved the pinnacle of the pimp game, if I wasn’t the biggest guy that ever done it at the time when I was doing it, I probably would have been encouraged or even seduced to pimp it, to go back. I’m an individual that after I’ve done achieving something, it’s on to the next. I’ve done that, I’ve mastered that, I’ve left whatever legacy is left for me to have left there. That’s a done deal. Gorgeous Dre, he was an okay guy, but he’s dead. That guy’s dead.
Could you tell me about this 2019 dream? Do you remember when you had it?
In ’99, when I was in the North Las Vegas Federal Detention Center, waiting for trial. God said to me in this dream, “In 20 years from now I will cause a star to fall from heaven onto the waters on the earth.” And he told me that men will desire to flee from the fire on the land to the water, but the fire in the water will be hotter than the fire on lands, and then He showed me the incident happening. Maybe five years after I had this dream I was reading about how some scientists thought that a particular asteroid or whatever was supposed to fall around 2019. But you know, I don’t go around discussing this with people, “Oh, there’s gonna be a doomsday.” I live my life. Whatever is left up to God, that’s on Him.
My dreams come to pass. They come to pass.