seth ferrantiSeth Ferranti: Soul in the Hole

by Taylor Nix
September 2008


Seth “Soul Man” Ferranti is a man on a mission to the fullest and he is unlike most literary scholars and journalists—having written articles for Don Diva Magazine, Slam, Feds, The Ave, FHM, Vice, and The Flywire; not to mention regular appearances on Hoopshype.com, Hoopculture.com which has lead him to international recognition in L’Equipe, Gigantes Del Basket and Liberation magazines from France and Spain. Seth has also been featured in Rollin Stone Magazine, with several reviews in Giant, Smooth, Elemental and Yellow Rat Bastard. He founded Gorilla Convict Publications while writing and publishing his first book titled Prison Stories, he has a short story in the Nikki Turner Anthology “Christmas in the Hood” and his latest non-fiction saga Street Legends.

All this from a prison cell. The question is how?

“Diane (Seth’s wife), she is my manager, agent, secretary, public relations person, publisher, webmaster and publicist all in one . . . Without her I am nothing. She pursues leads and possible articles, tracks people down, finds out what different magazines and websites want me to write and then sends me all the info . . . I write, type it up and send it back to her . . . We work together, we network, we market my writings and Gorilla Convict, the website and my books . . . without her none of this happens . . .”

In October 1993 Seth was captured after being placed on the U.S. Marshall list of most-wanted fugitives—thought able to elude authorities for 2 years, using several fake identities, while going back and forth between states, all the while still managing to catch Lollapalooza when it came to town. He faced the mandatory sentence of at least 27 years. Seth led a small group of suburban LSD peddlers in an upper class Fair Fax neighborhood.

Writing wasn’t always a love of his. At one time he formed a rock band and recorded an 8-Track demo that contained original songs, but due to the No Frills Prison Act of 1996, all electronic devices, including electric guitars and recorders were outlawed. But he didn’t let that hinder his chances at creating art while behind the wall. In a interview with Rollin Stone Magazine Seth mentioned this about prison life, “The meat [we] get is government surplus. It might be five or ten years old, sitting in a freezer somewhere. We get stuff leftover from [war] . . .”

From making 92 cents an hour working in the prison factory, fitting foam cushions into molded-plastic seat shells to a career as a writer, we can all agree Seth “Soul Man” Ferranti had been making excellent use of his time thus far by writing with a resume longer than most.

Taylor: Why did you decide to write a book like Street Legends?
Seth: I've been writing for Don Diva since the jump under Soul Man. At first I was doing little pieces and Behind the Wall stuff but then that progressed to cover and feature stories like the Supreme Team piece in the fall of 2005, the Green Dragon piece and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly cover story about Michael Fray, Supreme and Wayne Perry that I wrote with my dude Eyone Williams. Those along with all the other stuff I've done for Don Diva, Feds and Street Elements made Street Legends a natural progression for me.

I've always been intrigued by that true-crime type of stuff and after reading stuff like Queens Reigns Supreme and Mr. Untouchable I was like damn, this is the same shit I've been doing for Don Diva and the other mags, so I put the idea together and rolled with it in a book length project. My main man Mark at gottahustle.com helped me with the lineup for the book and really was the inspiration for the writing of the book. I see this gangsta shit jumping off just like the Italian Mafia and Colombian cocaine cartel stuff before it. America loves its outlaws and the dudes profiled in Don Diva, Feds and on BET's American Gangster are today's Billy the Kid's and Scarfaces.

Taylor: What was the research process like?
Seth:
How long did it take you to compile all your information? I've been gathering articles and cases on these dudes for years. Plus being in prison you hear all the talk from their homies. The myths, the rumors, the legends, the truth from the streets. So whenever I run across something I save it. But when I chose this lineup, from getting all the newspaper articles, getting all the case stuff at the law library and reaching out and getting the interviews it didn't take that long. I had all the information I needed and rough drafts written inside of six months. My dude Mark helped facilitate a lot of this as well as my dude Eyone and others I know.

I got as close to the person I was writing about as I could. Luckily I was with Supreme at FCI Gilmer in 2005 and I had connections with a lot of the other dudes co-defendants, relatives or homies through people I've done time with. Remember I've been in prison, the feds, since 1993, so I know a lot of these dudes personally and if not I know their co-defendants or running partners. But from inception to publication it was inside a year. I got a lot of help from other people though. Without them it would not have been possible.

Taylor: Why are so many young people attracted to street life?
Seth:
It’s gotta be the flash, the bling-bling and the danger. I mean dudes just want to get money, come up and be someone. Like my man Tuck from the Supreme Team said, why would you want to go to school when you could make more money than the whole school board of directors. But fast money leads to death or serious prison time. Its something you learn. When you are young you just don't give a fuck. You just go for what you want. You don't even think of the consequences. That’s youth for you when everything is possible and the world can be yours, if only for a short time.

Taylor: Who will be included in the second installment of Street Legends?
Seth:
I think Volume 2 will be sub titled Stop Snitching and will look at the big names that fell from grace. This book covered the names that held true to the street code- Death Before Dishonor. So the second will look at the names that didn't hold true and it will include what their peers, the people in prison think about their fall from grace. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding a lot of these dudes and I will explore all that. I'm talking about dudes like Fat Cat, Rayful Edmond, Alpo, Nicky Barnes, Rick Ross and the Preacher.

I'll give the real deal and show the process these dudes went through and let you know if their actions were justified or not. It’s easy to call someone a snitch but harder to look at all the circumstances surrounding each individuals situation. I'm not saying I'm going to defend anyone but I'm gonna tell it like it is and tell these dudes stories through their own voices and through their homies and co-defendants voices. And whatever the end result will be it will be real, very real.

Taylor: I've been with urbanbooksource.com for some time now and I've seen firsthand some of the stuff that you write and cover, I have to ask, with you being incarcerated, how do you get access to so much information?
Seth:
For that we have to thank my wife, Diane, she is my manager, agent, secretary, public relations person, publisher, webmaster and publicist all in one. She does everything for me- e-mails, editing, typing, and facilitates all that I do. Without her I am nothing. She pursues leads and possible articles, tracks people down, finds out what different magazines and websites want me to write and then sends me all the info here so that I can do what I do. I write, type it up and send it back to her so that she can get it in the hands of the people who want it. We work together, we network, we market my writings and Gorilla Convict, the website and my books. Between us we have made all this happen. Like I said without her none of this happens, you feel me.

She is my angel and a very smart and astute businesswoman too. If I am the creative side of this than she is the practical side. The one who makes all my ideas reality. Plus as I said before I've been locked up going on 16 years. I've met a tremendous amount of people from all walks of life in the system and I am a people person, I am a networker, I keep in touch, I discuss ideas with people and when the time comes I try to make whatever was discussed happen. Plus I don't mind helping people by trying to get them some publicity for what they are doing. When I first started writing or trying to write about these incarcerated street lit authors there weren't a lot of outlets for my work. Now there is. There’s a lot of interest in this type of material and I've been doing it since the jump so people know my name or they know me personally because they did time with me or I did time with their homie so I get access to a lot of people that way.

Taylor: Do you have any upcoming projects?
Seth:
I got two books ready to go, Murder Capital, a street lit novel about a white boy crew from the suburbs of Northern Virginia that starts beefing with DC crews from Barry Farms and Simple City and Prison Ball, a compilation of all my prison basketball articles that appeared in Slam, Don Diva, hoopshype.com and others. That’s what I got ready to go, depending on the situation Gorilla Convict might put them out or maybe I might go with someone else, I'm not sure right now. And definitely I will be putting together Street Legends Vol 2 because I already have everything together I just have to write the book. Also I'm going to put together Prison Stories II. I'm messing around with putting together a Supreme Team book too. So that’s what’s in my immediate future. I don't know what will be a go first but we will see. It all depends.

Taylor: With street literature gaining popularity, do you think there should be some form of industry standard that the publishers and authors meet?
Seth:
I think so but I don't like the idea of regulating it. That would stifle the independents and the independents have it rough as it is concerning distribution and publicity. But for real the market is cluttered with a bunch of garbage so there needs to be something to enable the creme to rise to the top. My dude Kwame Teague has come up with an excellent idea to put his brand, Dutch Presents, on books to let readers know that any book with his stamp on it is a street banger. I believe JM Benjamin's new book On The Run With Love will be the first to bare this stamp. And a stamp of approval from the king of street lit, Kwame Teague, who wrote the Dutch series is huge. So there is one standard that a popular author came up with. If the book isn't like that than it won't bare the Dutch Presents stamp.

Taylor: Anything else you would like to tell The Urban Book Source viewers?
Seth:
Go to gorillaconvict.com and order Street Legends Vol. 1 and Prison Stories. You won't be disappointed. Street Legends is a look at six of the crack era's biggest hood stars. If you like BET’s American Gangster or Queens Reigns Supreme or Mr. Untouchable then you'll love my book. Plus if you are tired of reading the same old hood novel than try Street Legends, it will be a refreshing break from the same old, same old. This book isn't fiction, its real life. These are the dudes that 50 Cent, Nas, Jay-Z, Fat Joe and Nas rap about. And the stories I tell about them are the ones you could only hear inside a jail cell.

Also check out Prison Stories, which people have called a hood novel set in prison. Plus visit my website, leave me a message and read the Gorilla Convict Blog which gives the 411 on convicts, street legends, the mafia, prison gangs and life in the belly of the beast. Thanks a lot for having me and take care. UrbanBookSource.com is the leading authority of street lit. Enough said.

Be sure to pick up copies of all his work and visit: www.gorillaconvict.com.


Taylor Nix is a writer and photographer for the Urban Book Source. Questions, comments and concerns can be sent to: taylor@urbanbooksource.com


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