The Santana Blocc Compton Crip rapper talks life in prison, being released, and his new single.
On a gloomy day last week, I met up with 31-year-old Compton rapper Beezy Santana at a recording studio in Bakersfield. He was recently released from prison after serving a five-and-a-half-year sentence, and I secured his first-ever interview. His new single “TuCCer St Dreams” has received a lot of attention in the streets since the release.
The video was filmed on Tucker Street and Pearl, two known streets in the East Side Santana Blocc Compton Crip neighborhood. The gang is one of the oldest Crip sets in East Compton. The video pays homage to the area Beezy Santana grew up in. The lyrics give a brief display of what it was like growing up there: “I come from a city, where it was blood shed with Pirus’, It’s Compton Nigga” is just one of many powerful lyrics in the song.
Beezy Santana was born in Inglewood, at Centennial Hospital, but grew up in Compton. He grew up with a big family including four other brothers. Both his mom and dad were present — until his dad went to prison. “It was difficult but we was making it work, Moms was making it work, Dad in and out of prison,” he recalls. “It wasn’t like my dad was just absent. He was there, he was just thuggin.”
Beezy Santana says that, with his mother being at work often, he gravitated to the streets. “We was young bad kids doing stuff that kids do. We just grew up in Compton, so it was a little different,” he explains. His grandma lived on Tucker Street and Pearl Avenue, where he spent most of his time as a kid. At the age of 13, Beezy Santana had his first introduction to the Compton gang life. He says he “wasn’t advanced with it”, but still “had a “fucked up mindset.” Despite being in the streets, Beezy Santana got good grades, made the honor roll, and had a love for football. He played for several of Compton’s school teams. “I’m playing football my whole life, Compton Titans,” he says. “But when I get off of school and everything, we all thuggin, we outside. We young, though — 12, 13 years old.”
Beezy Santana was often distracted by the environment around him. “The beginning years was crazy, we would just go to the store and get in riots with other races and I didn’t really know what was going on,” he recounts. “We at the beginning of gang banging.” He was sent to jail when he was 17, causing his mother to move him from Compton to Bakersfield, where his grandparents were originally from. “My mom was like, ‘Nope, we getting these niggas outta here,’” he says. Although Bakersfield is a treacherous city with its own gangs and street politics, it wasn’t hard for Beezy Santana to fit right in and adjust. For him, both cities were the same as far as the violence, but Compton was harder to grow up in due to the city being bigger. “It was different, but it was easy because I was an athlete.” Beezy played for Bakersfield High School and Golden Valley High School, and graduated from high school in the city.
Beezy Santana was introduced to music while living in Bakersfield. “I was never the rapper, mind you, I’m the athlete on some pretty boy shit,” he says. He knew a few of the local rappers; he began to play around with music and recorded a few songs. Around 2013-14, he began to seriously focus on writing his own music.
A few years after graduating high school, Beezy left his mom’s house and migrated back to Compton. “I started living the lifestyle that I was more familiar with,” he says. “It’s just amplified, so now I’m rapping about it.” His music was a reflection of the pain and suffering he was experiencing while being in the streets. Different people he knew and cared for deeply were dying and going to jail around this time. Music was a way for him to escape the harsh realities, but he was still in the streets doing what needed to be done to survive: “Damn I’m really feeling this shit, cuz I’m really living this lifestyle, I’m really going through this shit.”
At the age of 24, Beezy Santana went to prison. “I’m out there in the streets. I’m thuggin, so everything I was doing was to benefit me, I wasn’t thinking about no consequences,” he says. “I was at a time in my life where I really didn’t give a fuck about nothing.” He received his prison sentence as a blessing, and even though it was hard, he used it as a time to change his life and focus on music. “The way I deliver my music now, it just came with growth, and actually reading different books, and learning different shit in prison. And actually going through different emotions.”
Spending the ages of 24 to 31 inside California’s prison system allowed him to grow in ways he wasn’t familiar with as a younger person. That’s reflected in Beezy’s style of music — it’s grown and evolved since he was released from prison. He strives to encourage his supporters to be passionate and true to self, while still being safe. “I’m not promoting no violence, but at the end of the day, just grow and be aware of what’s going on in these streets,” he says. “There’s only two exits — dead or in jail.”
Beezy Santana will always stay true to his Compton upbringing but has found a common ground between street life and his music dreams. He’s continuing to stay positive and educated, and he hopes to achieve superstardom in the years to come.