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SS: Where did you grow up in the city?

AG: Right here. Shaw. Cardozo. Adams Morgan. Columbia Heights. All this area is me. I went to Cardozo, Lincoln Junior High, Harriet Tubman Elementary.

SS: Did you play football for Cardozo?

AG: No, I played for Lincoln. But I got shot, and my leg got messed up. So I went into music. I played one year for Cardozo. But as soon as the season was getting started, I got arrested. They got me for assault.

: So you were running with a tough crowd?

AG: I was pretty much a loner, but trouble would come, and I’d do a lot of fighting, because I used to box, too. I had a hot head at times. But I didn’t sell dope or nothing. I was popular for my band, all the gear I used to wear. I was just a popular kid, so —

SS: So you attracted trouble?

AG: Yeah. My big brother, he was in it. If we didn’t put on a tough-guy act, he’d knock us down, smack us upside our head. But I was into the theater. I was into the male ensemble dance group. Kids would make fun of me: “You into that theater shit, that faggot shit.” So when I left the theater, I had to put the ball and chain on it, you know? It was something I had to cover up, but really I didn’t want that in my life. But it was there, so I had to deal with it.

SS: How did the Backyard Band get together?

AG: I started the band with a guy called Walker Lattimore. We called him Walk Jam. We started out on the buckets.

SS: How old were you?

AG: Ah, man. I think I was 12.

SS: Didn’t you guys play in Georgetown at the corner of M Sreet and Wisconsin?

AG: Yeah, banging on the buckets right in Georgetown, right in front of the bank. Then we moved to 19th and M. We used to play down there. I’ll never forget: Oliver North put a $100 bill in my bucket one day. It was just beautiful, man — coming up man, tackling everything I needed to tackle, just being able to experience what was going on in the city.

SS: You were coming up during a very violent time in some parts of DC. Was it hard to avoid trouble back then?

AG: Yeah, very hard. Coming through the alley just getting to my school there were dope needles, dead rats, dead cats, dogs running in the alley. Then when I was living on Morton Street, we were going to school one day, and right by the trash can there was a dead body. There was yellow tape, and the kids were so excited to see it. It brought a chill through my body. I was like, “Why is everybody so excited to see a fucking dead body?” I never got that, and I was like, “This is not where I want to be.”

I used to get away and go to the zoo, just to imagine different places. Ride my bike to the airport. I always wanted to get away. I didn’t want to come home, because you had to go past the drug dude on the front. “Hey, gimme some goddamn change!” Your brother in there, cutting up rocks and bagging up nickel bags of weed and telling me, “You better not never smoke this shit. You smoke this shit and I’ll kill you.” My mom getting up and going to see my dad at the penitentiary, and I never wanted to go. I used to always try to hide under the bed. I didn’t want to do that. You had to literally have your pants taken off to check you. I didn’t want that. But it was the way of life in my household. So my mom had to work three jobs. She did the best she could. She wasn’t ever on drugs. She was a good mom. She helped us with homework. My sister helped us with homework. There was no father figure at home at all. It was tough, man, to not have that fatherly love. Your mom having to be like, “Look, this is what you have to do,” and your sister gotta tell you to bust someone in the nose. It was rough, but it wasn’t rough, know what I mean? Because once you’re accustomed to that kind of living, there ain’t nothing you can’t do. So when I got my first piece of white sand, I ain’t looked back.


The complete interview with Anwan Glover is available for purchase in The DC Issue


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