Big City Philadelphia joins the fray over skinny jeans and homophobia.
“They shackle your feet to your hands, and you’re locked to your seat. You can’t move anything. You can’t eat. It’s hell—not natural.”
There was a time when Esposito was in a vicious cycle: He’d be released from jail only to be rearrested for drug seizures made on his property while he was in lockdown.
“Drugs were being sold. So they raided my house and found like 20 K of coke, bills and a pound of weed. So I’d get out and wind up getting rearrested,” Esposito says of his then-topsy-turvy life.
And there’s more.
At one point, he fled from the Feds, who pursued him after he’d transported 2,000 pounds of ketamine across state lines.
“When they invented ketamine they never expected anybody to get high on it,” says Esposito before dropping into legalese. “And ketamine, it’s a cat tranquilizer, and they had to make some kind of stipulation for it. And in the stipulation the guidelines say one to 10 cartridges or bottles, probation.”
Esposito was busted with 25,000 cartridges.
“But it didn’t matter,” he says. “The way the law was written, they were only allowed to set bail at a certain amount.”
So he bailed out and went on the lam before getting caught at the Philadelphia branch of Cooper University Hospital. That’s where he woke up from a monthlong cocaine-and-Ecstasy-induced coma that resulted in a loss of one-third of his body weight.
“I was down to 95 pounds,” he says. “I had an IV in my neck. I couldn’t walk. I think after five days the Feds came and got me, and I had no clothes because they took them from me. So they took me in stockings,” he says, taking a swig from his third bottle of Miller Lite. “They asked me, ‘Where you been? How’d you get away from us every single time? We were on your heels.’ And they were—I literally jumped from a third-floor window of my condo one time when they came to my house.”
He served 18 months at a federal correctional institution in Fairton, N.J., 50 miles southeast of Philadelphia, for the ketamine charge. It remains the largest ketamine bust in U.S. history.
After a couple hours, a few beers and several hugs from some of the patrons at Oasis—“I used to live in here, man”—Esposito insists on adding visuals to his story, trading the VIP section with its view of naked talent plying their trade on the laps of businessmen for the lawn of his former Southwest Philly home on Lindbergh Blvd.
“See this dent here?” Esposito points at an aluminum garage door. “I smashed my cousin’s head into it because he stole some money from me.”
“That window, remember, I told you?” he says, now in the backyard pointing up to the third story, “is where I jumped—wearing just my underwear—when the Feds came. I jumped over this fence, ran through that field.”
Before too long Esposito and Kellerman are on the porch, knocking on the door. “I don’t know who lives here anymore. The Feds sold it in an auction after they seized it.”
After several knocks, a tiny, elderly woman answers. Esposito makes nice for a few minutes, and charms his way through the door. Before too long he’s in the basement, marveling at a gunshot blast that remains, after all these years, in a slotted wooden gate that encloses the laundry room; a giant hole surrounded by a pepper of tinier pellet spray.
Esposito tells a heated story about a Marlo-from-The Wire-style raid by rivals who knew he had a stash of drugs and guns in the house. Recognizing the elderly woman’s concern—which shows on her face—about the strangers she’d just let in, Esposito comforts her.
“I’m sorry, honey. I don’t mean to scare you. Where you from?”
“Ethiopia,” the woman says, sheepishly.
“Ethiopia? Wow. Well, I lived here for years, and I thank you for letting me back in to see the old place,” Esposito responds, showing himself the door. “I’m a rapper. I go by the name of Big City Philadelphia. Keep an eye out for me. I’m going to be a big star soon.”