Posts Tagged ‘Murder Inc’

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On October 25, 1957, Albert Anastasia’s murderous reign in the New York underworld closed under a barrage of bullets from two assassins at the Park Sheraton Hotel barbershop. As reporters swarmed and cameras flashed over Anastasia’s bloodied corpse, speculations began running rampant on the causes behind the first public execution of a Mafia boss in over 30 years. Was another conflict on the level of the 1931 Castellammarese War brewing? Was this related to the shooting of another tenured mob boss, Frank Costello, five months earlier? As expected, dozens were brought in for questioning. Perhaps most surprising among them was a tough local lightweight boxer named Johnny Busso.

Busso had turned pro in 1952 and built a strong following in the Northeast by being a tough out for any opponent. In June 1957, Busso scored an upset 10-round unanimous decision win over Larry Boardman, but then suffered an immediate setback in dropping a decision to Ralph Dupas in August. Busso’s next bout was scheduled for October 25 against Gale Kerwin at Madison Square Garden. The night before, Busso had a room booked at the Park Sheraton Hotel with his manager Andrew Alberti.

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Andrew Alberti (NYC Municipal Archives)

Boxing manager wasn’t the only professional title Alberti had. The 37 year old was a member of the Mafia and associated with the Anastasia crime family. Busso would later tell the NYPD that he received a call in his room the morning of October 25 from Alberti, who requested he come down to the hotel lobby to meet some colleagues. Alberti would later admit to authorities that he and Busso ran into Anastasia in the lobby and discussed Busso’s fight that night against Kerwin. However, Busso stated Alberti introduced him to “numerous” people and he could not recall if one of them had been Anastasia.

1957 was the year the underworld had enough of Anastasia’s antics. The former “Lord High Executioner” of Murder Inc. was rumored to have set his sights on becoming the fabled “Boss of Bosses” in the Mafia. He had begun meddling in the financial interests of other bosses, most notably wanting a piece of the Cuban gambling rackets held by Santo Trafficante and Meyer Lansky. With the sheer amount of soldiers under Anastasia, there was a fear that the Brooklyn boss was growing too strong.

“Albert Anastasia was doing so much wrong and it was up to his family to act,” Mafia informant Joe Valachi would recall years later.

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The plan for Anastasia’s removal allegedly went into motion from his underboss Carlo Gambino, Vito Genovese and Joe Biondo. According to an FBI report dated 1/3/63, Biondo and Alberti recruited a heroin trafficker, Stephen Grammauta, as the lead shooter. Organized crime writer Jerry Capeci would identify an Arnold “Witty” Wittenberg as the second assassin, and mobster Stephen Armone as an additional conspirator.

Anastasia’s movements had been tracked for months. The surveillance yielded the opening the conspirators had been waiting for — Anastasia ventured out twice a month to the Park Sheraton Hotel barbershop for haircuts. The hit team arranged for the weapons, .38 and .32 caliber handguns, to be placed in Johnny Busso’s hotel room before the hit.

At 10:20 am on October 25, Anastasia was at ease in the barber’s chair. He failed to notice two men enter the room clad in black gloves, fedoras and aviator shades. Anastasia’s back was to them as they flanked both sides of the chair and discharged their weapons. The 55 year old kingpin jerked out the chair as bullets ripped through him. A shot to the back of the head would be the coup de grace.

anastasia_dead

 

Anastasia’s organization would be renamed the Gambino Family as it remains today. The murder would inadvertently lead to the national exposure of the syndicate when police broke up a Mafia summit meeting held in November 1957 at the Apalachin home of Joseph Barbara. One of the topics to have been addressed was the reallocating of Anastasia’s various criminal enterprises.

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No one was ever charged in Anastasia’s slaying. Andrew Alberti’s suspected role was enough for the New York State Athletic Commission to suspend his license as a boxing manager. In 1964, he committed suicide with a shotgun over being called to testify before a grand jury in a case involving fellow Mafia figure Carmine Lombardozzi. Stephen Armone passed away in Sicily in 1960. His younger brother Joseph would go on to become a caporegime in the Gambino crime family before passing away in 1992 at 74. The second shooter’s history, Arnold Wittenberg, becomes elusive after Anastasia. However, a public record does list him as passing away at 74 in 1978. Stephen Grammauta is reportedly still a Gambino family caporegime and will celebrate his 100th birthday on December 6.

The night of Anastasia’s death, Johnny Busso won a competitive 10-round decision over Gale Kerwin. Despite the story of the murder weapons being stashed in his hotel room prior to the crime, police were satisfied their interrogation showed Busso was not involved. Busso would achieve his greatest success in 1958 with decision wins over future Hall of Famers Carlos Ortiz and Joe Brown. He would lose rematches to both, including a 1959 decision to Brown in his only lightweight title opportunity.

Busso retired in 1961 with a record of 36-12-1 (15 KOs). He died at age 66 in 2000 following a long battle with cancer.

johnnybusso_boxer

Sources

NY Municipal Archives, Box 2, Anastasia Files 1957

New York Daily News, October 26, 1957

New York Times, November 10, 1964

Mob and The City, Alexander Hortis

Gangland News, October 1, 2001, Jerry Capeci

The Valachi Papers, Peter Mass

 

 

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50Cent_JaRule

It’s been over 13 years since Ja Rule’s Murder Inc. and 50 Cent’s G-Unit engaged in a contentious and sometimes violent fued. Earlier today, Rule disclosed that the former bitter enemies not only ended up sharing a flight, but also sat in the same row .

While not revealing where the flight was going or what was discussed, Rule noted on Twitter earlier that the pair were able to be civil with each other.

What are the chances me and 50 same flight same row no problems!!! #Grownmanshit

— Ja Rule (@Ruleyork) November 18, 2013

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Ja Rule was released from prison on May 7 after serving nearly two years on drug, gun and tax evasion charges. Since then, he has released two singles, “Fresh Out Da Pen” and Everything,” and also starred in the Christian drama I’m In Love With a Church Girl.

50 Cent is gearing up for the SMS Promotions debut of his newly signed fighter James Kirkland, as well as a NYC “Big Apple Boxing” show on December 20.

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Last time I call these two mentioning each other on Twitter (circa 2011), they were still issuing idle threats. It’s good to see that the “beef” has been officially dropped, although it’s too late for it to have much impact on where they are currently in their careers.

Then again… would a Ja Rule-50 Cent collab be just the spark both need?

Last year, Ja Rule was planting the seeds for a comeback. We talked about the leak of his shleved album The Mirror, and how suddenly his previously maligned singing style has become popular again.

Ja Rule is excited. For the past several years, the Inc lead artist has taken a back seat after dominating the early 2000s with a string of chart-topping hits. Now, Rule finds himself on the verge of releasing an official comeback LP this November. But first, he has a special treat for fans in The Mirror, the original studio album that has been leaked in various incarnations since 2007. Ja Rule is ready for a comeback, but are the fans ready for him?

Ismael AbduSalaam: Congratulations on finally getting The Mirror completed, I know you’ve been working on it for a minute.
 
Ja Rule: Nah, The Mirror’s been done. We just had some issues with it, some leak issues. I ain’t that nigga to hit my fans with some shit they heard. Even if two fans heard it, I’m not putting it out there for the public. So I went in and made a whole new album. The new album is crazy, but a lot of people didn’t hear Mirror. I’ve been getting hit on Twitter, Myspace, and Facebook with people asking about The Mirror. So I realized there are a lot of people who didn’t hear the shit. So today they’ll get a taste of it.
 
Ismael: So you’re the one leaking it?
 
Ja Rule: Actually that’s not true. The album was leaked already. I don’t know how it got leaked. People could get it and hear it online. That fucked up my whole project. But I just want people to hear the album who didn’t.
 
Ismael: This is your first album in about 5 years. With the title, it alludes to facing the truth about yourself once you look in the mirror. What are the big truths you learned about yourself as Ja Rule the artist and man during this past half-decade?
 
Ja Rule: It’s hard for the public to distinguish the truth. They get a persona that you portray or they see on screen, but that may not necessarily be the person that you are. Or they may only know you from the singles you drop and do videos for. A lot of fans don’t get to soak up the whole album. With The Mirror, I just wanted people to get an inside look to what it is like to be me and go through what an artist goes through period.
 
 
Ismael: Not to make you feel old, but we’re right at the 10 year anniversary of Venni Vetti Vecci. Even amongst your biggest critics, that’s the album that many concede was executed well. For the fans who love that album, can they expect tracks like “Story To Tell” and “It’s Murda,” or will they get more “Mesmerize” and the other radio songs that took you to stardom?
 
Ja Rule: The Mirror is really a compilation of complex and different records. They’re not all the same. I got records like “Father Forgive Me” on the album, and “Sing a Prayer For Me.” These records are completely different. I wanted people to feel those sides of me because I’m an artist that likes to grow with each project.
 
That’s something that people don’t understand about artists. If you go to your job everyday and get bored at it sometimes, it’s the same thing with us, [especially] if you go in the studio and doing the same type of music year after year. You get bored and want to try something new and expand your horizons. When you hear “Father Forgive Me,” that’s me broadening my horizons and moving to something different.
 
 
Ismael: Let’s go back to 2007 when you were first wrapping up this project. Were you getting a lot of resistance from Universal, since they were expecting those platinum hits, and you were now seeking to experiment? Was it a struggle getting them to see your vision?
 
Ja Rule: It wasn’t really a fight. The situation just didn’t work, it wasn’t a marriage. Sometimes it’s like that. When you see a project do 5 or 10 million that was a project that had good chemistry all around it. Not just through the making of it, but after recording to the marketing and promoting of it. Those are special because everybody is in tune and wants the same thing. It wasn’t like that with The Mirror.
 
I was new over there at Motown. They never got no money with me in the past. I was a Def Jam artist. There was poor communication on both ends.
 
Ismael: We’re ending the first decade of the 2000s, and pretty much the R&B/Hip-Hop collaborations that people were slamming you for are making a resurgence like they normally do every few years. When you look at today’s scene, do you feel it validates you now that people are running or trying to run with the formula you perfected?
 
Ja Rule: I said it in one of rhymes on Message to Mankind, “I gave birth to a style that’s way too common now/Niggas cocktailed my shit/Got it all watered down.” [laughs] That’s how I feel about it. Like autotune. That was T-Pain’s sound. And now everybody uses it, and Jay puts out “Death of Autotune.” Now, T-Pain might have a hard time coming back with his own sound, because so many people saturated and made it not the shit. I like autotune and think its some fly shit. Roger Troutman was the first and T-Pain made it his own thing.
 
With me, I didn’t create melodic tunes. There were people doing melodic tunes before me, but I made it my shit. And that’s the difference. When I want to kick it up a notch and do something y’all can’t do, I do this. We can all go in the booth and spit and go hard at each other. We used to do that all day. Me and X used to go to different spots and battle rhyme. DMX was a battle rhymer back in the day. And with Cash Money Click we would go to video shoots and battle rappers, that’s what it was. It’s nothing for an artist to go in the booth and spit it. I can do that and rock with anybody.
 
But that melodic shit? I did it in a way that no one else could do or even wanted to try. For me that was my special shit that separated me from other artists.
 
 
Ismael: I’m sure you used your time away to enjoy your family, and also grow as a human being. So looking at Hip-Hop, do you feel it’s grown with you, or has regressed from where you left it?
 
Ja Rule: Hip-Hop changes every few years. I remember a time when dancing was the shit in Hip-Hop when I was younger: from the cabbage patch, the wop, pee wee herman, the Biz Mark, we had a gang of songs and dance records! And it was cool for us to do that. Now I’m 33, and you sound about in my age bracket and that era, and you know Hip-Hop has always been a youthful thing. [The dances] are for the kids to enjoy and have fun.
 
But Hip-Hop is such a big business now, and we grew up with the music. So now you have fans of all ages. That’s why artists like myself, Jay, and Kanye can come up and still sell records because it grows. I listen to Hip-Hop and I’m 33. My kids listen to it. They’re going to grow up and I’m going to get older still listening to Hip-Hop. Then their kids will come up listening to it. So Hip-hop will keep getting bigger as long as we keep putting out good music.
 
 
Ismael: Looking at R.U.L.E. that contained one of the last high-profile NY collaborations to go national in “New York.” Where do see NY Hip-Hop now in terms of quality?
 
Ja Rule: [Pauses] Y’know, I don’t like to categorize it like that. I feel we’re all Hip-Hop. It’s not music, it’s a state of mind and way of living. It’s the clothes, attitude, walk, and everything that we do. We are different from society, and I don’t want to generalize from region to region. We all made Hip-Hop, and grew up loving it. It’s not like any other form of music. Other genres don’t categorize their shit by region to region, it’s all one thing. I feel we should really stop the divide and conquer shit they try to throw at us. We’re all Hip-Hop.
 
 
Ismael: The “Uh-Oh” joint with Wayne was right as he started building the superstar momentum that has manifested today. Did you foresee him becoming as big as he is?
 
Ja Rule: Weezy was doing what he wanted to do. You have to do the music that you feel in your heart, because that’s what the people will feel. When it’s coming from there, the people respond. He really put in a lot of work on the underground circuit, mixtapes, and he pleased the people. He loved Hip-Hop. He didn’t do it for the money. For about two years straight he said “this is for the people and the fans.” And that’s why he received the love and the rewards. It was a fucking small flame that blew into a fire. He deserved it and worked hard for it.
 
Ismael: You have a new label imprint with Empire Records. Are you looking to create a distinct brand away from the Inc or just build onto that movement?
 
Ja Rule: We made history with Murder Inc. It’s incredible to look back at it. But Empire is my movement. [Irv] Gotti is my brother who I love to death, and is supporting me. I guess if you merge the two you have the Inc Empire. [laughs] It is two separate things but still one thing.
 
Ismael: You did some venting about DMX and Ashanti on the track “Judas,” regarding some of the past issues you had with the moves they’ve made. Is all that done now, or are there any other past transgressions you needed to let out on The Mirror?
 
Ja Rule: Nah, I didn’t want anyone to look at The Mirror as a diss album. That was a song I felt I had to get off my chest. When I have thoughts I have to get them out my head through song. “Judas” was just a real record I felt I needed to make. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings; I love everyone that was supposedly talked about on that record. I have no problems with anyone.
 
 
Ismael: I remember hearing you speak of the 2002-2003 period as a time when the public just threw you on the “hate train” for no reason. When you look back at that period, do you think there’s anything you could’ve done differently to stop it, or do you feel it was a just an inevitable freight train?
 
Ja Rule: The fans don’t get a chance to understand the ins and outs of how things work. I don’t think they’re privy to inside information on the underhanded s**t that goes on in this industry. They only get to see what is printed, and perception is reality. That situation and everything around that period in my career didn’t make sense. It didn’t add up. 2+2=8. [laughs] I look at it now and laugh. I’m happy I can because you have to make light of situations like that or you’ll drive yourself crazy. I know how we move and it’s just a funny situation, one of those things you deal with in life. God sends you a test, and you have to pull through and show you’re a strong dude. That takes a lot for a nigga to stand up and walk through fire when people are throwing stones.
 
Ismael: Best case scenario for The Mirror, do you want to recapture that superstar status you had before? After experiencing how quickly people can tear you down, is that a reality you still strive for? Or is having the love of your diehard fans enough?
 
Ja Rule: I have an uncanny love out there. There’s diehard Ja Rule fans out there, and those that really hate me. But when I look at the reasons people don’t like me, it never really resonates. They’re usually frivolous reasons, never about hating the music. I’m not concerned with that. I’m concerned with those who understand what goes on in the music business and what happened with all the shit I’ve been through. People like comeback stories, to see someone be on top, fall, and come back to glory. That’s the American story. A lot of people are rooting for me to do that with my situation and my new label. I’m getting a lot of love and good feedback. I’ve been all over the world. I’ve been touring for about four years now overseas and it’s crazy. People want to see me win and I don’t want to let them down. I want to put out that music that people will enjoy.
 
The Mirror is a present for them to enjoy. They’ll get a chance to enjoy it in its entirety. And it’s free, you don’t have to pay shit for it. I’ll have a mixtape soon and then my new album. I feel it is my time to hit off Hip-Hop.
 
On The Mirror I didn’t do too many guests. I have Weezy, Game, and a lot of new artists who did their thing. It’s just a great album. And I got production from my man Erick Sermon and Chink Santana.
 
Ismael: What’s the early word on that new album?
 
Ja Rule: New album coming real soon, looking to drop around October or November. I worked really hard for the fans. Look out for my new label Empire Records and all my new artists. I don’t have a title yet. I may do a little contest to get the fans to give some ideas. I’m tittering with it every day.
 
Ismael: I’m sure today the fans who haven’t heard The Mirror will be eager to give it a listen.
 
Ja Rule: Yeah man, but I’m not trying to get in any trouble with Universal [laughs]. The album was already leaked don’t sue me! It’s all love, and it’s getting real crazy. I got a lot of people backing me and it’s feeling good, my nigga.