Story Ave (2023) Movie Script

(spray paint can shaking)
(spray paint can spraying)
(sirens, train rattling)
(water dripping)
(water dripping intensifying)
(water dripping)
(tears splatter)
(muffled indistinct chatter)
(indistinct chatter intensifies)

Imagine losing your brother...
You think he was there?
He should be ashamed.

It's his fault too.
What does he want to do?
Have you seen Olivia?
I wonder if he feels guilty.
I feel so sad for them.
Hold on now,
cake coming right up.
Yo, Reggie.
Where's Ma?
She's in her room, leave her be.
-Here you go.
-Yo, nah, give it here.
Yo, Kadir, what you doin'?
Why would you do that?
This is his plate.
I'm gonna get you
a bigger piece, baby,
don't worry about it.
(knocking on door)
(muffled indistinct chatter)
Ma, can we talk?
Not now, Kadir.
Damn, they packed his shit
You good, kid?
(indistinct chatter)
Where are you goin'?

You the big dog.
He livin' with you.
Shut the fuck up, bro.

(spray paint can shaking)
Stay still.
Hurry up, B.

Come on, Moe,
what is you doin'?
I need the power and respect
Millions locked in the safe
I push a Benz, bending corners
high rocking awake
The toughest niggas
went to jail
Still got chopped
in they face
That mean anybody can get it,
game dirty, watch how you play
We out for pay, don't give two
fucks what the President say
Fuck outta here,
that shit irrelevant
Long as they buying work,
I be selling it
From city to town,
private to public residence
Dime to pound,
any measurement
Know what the method is,
got rappers hating
What gwan?
It's the twins.

Runs that, B. Come on.
-Anywhere, baby.
Yessir, yessir.
-What up?
What's good with you?
Not much, chillin',
chillin', yeah.
Exactly bitch.
Game sick,
this the medicine
Fashion Rebel
on my letterman
Chrome Hearts on my sweater,
my work better
You could never
fuck with me ever
I been a big stepper
Make a play,
put the shit together
Before music made a way
That shit crazy.
Like how he even get up there
Was no escape or nothin'.
He game though.
He worked for UPS.
Get in any building easy.
Son, getting up all day
and getting paid.
Man livin' the dream.
Fuck is you even
talkin' about, B?
I swear, all this nigga does
is dream.
I mean, y'all missin' the point.
This dude went
from facing jail time
to doing global campaigns.
Shit, if they turn my piece
into a float,
I'm gonna ride them motherfucker
like Falkor,
blazed as fuck.
The fuck is y'all talkin' 'bout?

(strikes lighter)

Bein' a flock
of fuckin' prostitutes.

Lookin' for artistic identity
and such for money.

Don't y'all see
we the new hieroglyphics?
What, you sayin' gettin' money
ain't fly?

You sound like
a bunch of suckers
looking for approval
from a world
our shit is built to challenge.
What we do is art
imitating life.
But, nah, you niggas just worry
about parades and shit.
We gotta fight to have a voice.
And to celebrate our culture.
A culture that was a scar for us
but now conveniently
is a fuckin' commodity for them.
Respect, respect.

(Skemes sighs)
Look, this right here,
this is how we stay true,
know what I mean?

What the fuck is you talkin'
about gettin' bread, player?
You can't even fill in
my letters properly.
-Chill, B.
-What you doin', man?

Yo, kid, job yours.
Just don't be using
those soft-ass colors.
Yo, I got it.
Nah, baby bro.
First nigga to the bank
get the bag.
-You's kids.

Don't make me spark up, B.

Yo, Skemes.
Yo, Skemes, I gotta talk to you.
Well, wait till I finish

Yo, when you gonna start
lettin' me rep
and throw the letters up?
Be patient.
(urine flowing)
All right, I--I feel you,
but you've been sayin' that
for a minute now.
Are you sure you built for this?
You know, writers is fighters.
No, G, you know I am.
The streets are startin'
to talk.
(bottles clattering)
You still got some work
to put in, huh?
(bottle cap pops off, clatters)
What's up, blood?

How your Moms
and your family doin'?
I know shit gotta be crazy
right now.

You don't even know.
Come here, man.
Look, family always gonna be
tricky, kid,
whether it's the one
you born with
or the one you choose.
It's all we got though, right?

Look, man, just stick
to the code, play your role,
we'll always have your back,
all right?
(bottles clink)

Matter of fact,
I'm gettin' up tonight.
Ain't hit the tunnels
in a minute.

(chain-link fence clattering)

Yo, kid, hold on.

(flame billowing)

We here.
Nah, we buckin' chaos.
VHS gonna be tight
when they see this shit.
Them niggas ain't got
no real estate.
It's work.
Yo, Kadir and Moe,
watch the door,
make sure nobody comin'.
Yo, Punch, catch this.
(spray paint can spraying)

Yo, VHS don't want it with us.
Yo fuck them
bitch-ass niggas, yo.
Fuck VHS.
Fuck TL.
Shit, security!
What the fuck
y'all doin' in here?
Yo, yo, yo, let's go!
We out, we out!

Eat up, little bro.
I'm good, money funny right now.
Did I ask about your money?
It's paid for.
Some good work tonight.
Never leave a brother behind.
Hey, you can't smoke in here.
Shut the fuck up.
(speaking in Chinese)
Yo, it's--
Yo, yo, yo, yo, that's my bad,
that's my bad.
Fuckin' kids
ain't got no manners.
Sit the fuck back.
What's wrong with you?
You gonna fight the nigga?
Kick the shit out yo ass.
Give me this, man.
Rule number one:
Always respect your hood.
If we won't respect it,
who else will?
He was startin' to talk, B.
He said he fuckin' with you
and your Parkchester piece.
It's like we trying
to tell you, kid.
Keep doin' shit like this,
you gonna be prophet
in no time.
I ain't even crew yet, bro.
You know your brother
stay frontin' on me.
Skemes a crazy nigga
but you know he fuck with you.
Don't want a crown
without the stripes, B.
My brother said the stripes
are usually scars,
but that was when
he was prophet though.
Now he's just staying
in that devil shit.
Don't make no sense.
Skemes used to be a god
with the can, bro.
He was.
That's a whole 'nother story.
(distant sirens)
What up, B?
This the spot.
Nah, bro.
For the mural.
Think you just hit
the gold mine, B.

(water dripping intensifying)

(drool dripping)
(soft snoring)
(bell rings)
(Moe exclaims excitedly)
(bangs on locker)
What's good, Moe?
'peat, nigga.
Yo, you killed this.
Yo, this water look ill, bro.
Listen, I'm telling you,
we pull this shit off,
you cool automatically.
Matter of fact, what you got
goin' on right now?
College advisor meetin', bro.
You got college money?
Exactly. Fuck that shit, B.
Let's be out,
go work on these pieces.
I feel you, but, yo,
if they call my crib again--
G, you ain't never gonna get
my bro's attention,
let alone the whole city,
if you ain't get these pieces
out and your name buzzin'.
I just ain't tryin' to stress
Moms out right now.
That's it.
Plus, sucker-for-love-ass Reggie
always there,
like, you don't live here, B.
Shit, you mean not yet.
Nigga, you ain't had to say
all that, all right?
Hey, K.
Sorry about your brother.
Let me know if you need any--
Is it true?
I mean, like, how he died?
'Cause you was there, right?
-So, kid...
-Don't even sweat this.
-Ah, fuck it, bro, fuck it.
Man, let's work on this,
(muttering), nigga.

(child babbling)


(water flowing)

(knocking on door)
Yo, you good?


(knocking on door)

(doorknob rattling)
(knocking on door)
(doorknob rattling)
(knocking on door)
(banging on door)
Yo, Malik!


Yo! Yo!

Yo! Open this door, yo!

You buggin',
Skemes know what's up.
Wait till he see this new piece
we're workin' on.
Oh, man, fuck that,
I need a spot right now.
You sure your Moms
won't let me crash?
Nah, she ain't havin' it, B.
Yo, fuck am I doing, Mo.
Look, all I had to do was
restock HQ with some paint
and I ran up
a couple hundred bucks.
Fuck it, let's get
the same mission,
I'mma just ask him.
Bro, just stop asking
to be crew.
OGs hate that shit,
especially my bro.
So talk to him for me then.
Wow, you want me to go out
on a limb for you.
I don't know, man,
you just never know with him.
But to be honest,
you been through some shit,
so remember, kid,
you don't owe Skemes nothin'.
(door creaking)
(door opens)
(door creaks open further)
(soft snoring)
You take everything away
from me.
Moms, I'm sorry, I just--
You have no idea
what I have sacrificed
for you and your brother.
Come on, you know
it ain't even like that.
Time to let your mother speak.
Yo, Reggie,
shut the fuck up, yo.
Ma, why you actin' like
I'm not your son,
like this is all my fault?
My son who stays out
until morning
doing God knows what.
Kadir, I love you.
I just don't know
who you are anymore.
Yo, fuck this, Ma.
I'm out.
(door opens)
He'll be all right,
baby, don't worry.
(muffled arguing)
(banging on door)
-The fuck are you talkin' about?
-That's the problem.
Oh my...
Skemes here?
The fuck is it?
Ooh, I just--ooh, I could wring
your fuckin' neck.
The fuck you want?
Look, man, you can't just be
showin' up here.
You gonna have your Moms
flippin' out,
cops knockin' at my door
and shit.
Man, fuck her, fuck all that.
You on your lost boy shit, huh?
Can I crash here?
I mean, the only certified
can post up here.
That's why I'm here.
He's a kid. Relax.
Don't tell me to fuckin' relax.
Figure since Moe and I
are twins,
we could get the same mission
if you cosign.
What exactly
would that mission be?
Um, uh, Moe was telling me
you restocked HQ with paint.
So, I just want you to know
I'm gonna get this bread for us.
That's what you figure, huh?
Yeah, then we'd be straight,
You always been smart, kid.
You right.
Kush, pills, cash,
it don't pay for itself.
Your mission is to get your cash
by gunpoint.
Skemes, you know I ain't never
done no shit like that before.
You see, there's more than just
pretty colors
on big buildings.
Lives on the line every day, B.
Look, how 'bout I buff
my whole portfolio.
I buff anybody's shit,
any crew, any borough.
(baby crying)
Look, kid,
you know you just as much
my brother as Moe,
but I can't have you runnin'
with us if you be fool.
I damn sure can't have you
runnin' with my brother
if you can't protect him.
Skemes, I...
Skemes, I don't even have
no gun.
Here you go, baby.
Look, tryin' to prove to me,
no, fuck that,
prove to the crew
that you about this life.
Look, I hear you, but...
This nigga not ready.
Everybody want to go to Heaven
but don't nobody want the grave.
I got it.
And don't try
no punk face shit, kid.
I want proof.
IDs, credit cards
from whoever you stick up.
Don't let me find out
you asked Moe for help.
Well, who you want me
to stick up?
I don't know, nigga.
Neighborhood changin'.
Go get you
some gentrification tax.

Put the heat in the bag,
The fuck is you doin', man?

You got these little-ass kids
You know what?
What is you trippin' on?

(indistinct chatter)

Let me get two Vanilla Dutches.


Need somethin' else?

(distant siren)

(indistinct chatter)

This is Parkchester.
Next stop, Story Avenue.
Stand clear
of the closing doors.
(subway chimes)
(speaking in Spanish)

(speaking in Spanish)

Story Avenue.
Next stop, Castle Hill.
Stand clear
of the closing doors.
(subway chimes)
Excuse me.
(speaking in Spanish)
Give me your money.
Give me your fuckin' money.
-Yo, stop.
I'll shoot yo ass,
give me your money.
You don't want to do this, kid.
No, man, you don't want
a fuckin' bullet in your face.
Give me your money.
I know stick-up kids, man.
You're not one of 'em.
Come on, look at you.
All right.
-I'm gonna reach into my pocket.
-Come on, hurry up.
-I'm gonna give you my wallet.
-All right, all right.
I ain't got all night, come on!
No, no, no, no, no.
Here you go.
Drop it.
Now start walkin'.
-You know what--
You not gettin' this fuckin'
wallet back, I swear to God,
if you don't turn around
right now I'm shootin' your ass.
-No, no, no, no, listen.
-Nah, turn the fuck back around.
Listen, my wallet is empty.
-Take my coat.
You wanna be robbin' people
out here--
Stop fuckin' playin'
with me, yo,
I don't want
your fuckin' jacket.
Pick it up, put it on.
It's a nice jacket.
There you go.
You look like you're goin'
through some stuff.
There's a restaurant downstairs
with an ATM machine.
Come downstairs,
have a meal with me,
I'll give you some money.
You think I'm fuckin' stupid?
Yo, get the fuck
out of my face, yo.
I'm tired of this shit.
-No bullshit.
I'll give you enough money
so you can find
a warm place to sleep tonight,
My word to God.
Come on.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
(siren blasts)
Okay, okay.
(speaking in Spanish)
Hey, guys.
It's all good.
Be safe.

All right, come on.

You gonna have to stop
talkin' so much.
I can't even hear myself think.

Hey, Luis, nice to meet you.
What's a girl like mine
doing with a face like yours?
I don't know, stranger.
Do you rap here often?

Okay, you don't like my jokes,
but you're gonna love the food.
(speaking in Spanish)


It's nice to meet you, Kadir.

(speaking in Spanish)
Okay, okay.

Cuban sandwiches
are my favorite.
You know what,
they don't even come from Cuba.
Can you believe that?

Okay, well, I'm sure
you built up an appetite
carrying around that big gun.
Yo, what's good with this money?
I ain't trying to be here
all night.
(speaking in Spanish)
We have life!


You got some mad skills there.
You know, my nephew, Hector,
he collects comic books.
You two would hit it off
so well.

You know, I wasn't artistic.
That's why I work for the MTA.

It's good, right?
This place here
makes them the best.
Come on.
You know...

Hector says brains were built
to recognize faces.
Probably what makes 'em so hard
to draw, you know?
It's like a feeling.
(speaking in Spanish)
So, let me ask you,
what do you plan on doing
with this money?

You know,
open up a bank account,
get some stocks?

Gonna buy a couch.
Nah, I need a spot.
My boy said he could hook me
down with one,
but he want bread for it.
You know how it be.
No home?
I got a mom.

No pops though.


All right,
enough for the shitting.
I'm gonna go to the ATM machine.
But in exchange,
I want the gun.

It ain't mines to sell.
300 bucks.

-300 bucks?
And I'll teach you
enough Spanish
so you can flirt with Gloria.



(speaking in Spanish)
Yeah. Good to see you.
Good to see you too.
Good night, Kadir.


You got my wallet, man.

Listen, my word is good,
but I only need it
to get what you need.

It's in there.
-Put it in there?
Don't lie to me.
Oh, nope, you're not lying.
Okay, here you go.

And I get to keep my wallet.
(speaking in Spanish)

Now, before you go doing
anything stupid with that money,
ask yourself,
"How much of your problems
are your fault?"

(doorbell jingles)

(indistinct lyrics)

(spray paint can spraying)


(indistinct lyrics)

Get it, get it
Hey, get your money
Get it, get it
Go get yours, get yours
Get yours, nigga
Get yours, come on
(indistinct chatter)
I know. No more, man.
(indistinct speaking)
Fuck y'all doin'?
I'm hungry.
Oh, shit!
What up, killer?
Oh, no, no, no, chill,
don't call him names.
You know, he might broke in two.
You niggas think y'all funny.
Hey, yo, you's a savage
motherfucker, kid.
You heard?
Oh, you know I did.
-Yo, shut the fuck up.
(spray paint can clatters)
Okay, you fuckin' stupid.
You want to see your brother
that bad?
Y'all some fuckin' clowns, man.
This ain't even y'all territory.

Why you talkin' to me?

Nah, chill, put that away, bro.
These is kids, man,
put that away.
Come on, bro, come on.

Hey, tell your bitch-ass brother
I said what up.
We'll see y'all soon.

Don't even sweat that shit, man.

We're gonna get them niggas.
Don't you sweat it, man.

That shit wasn't my fault.

It.. it wasn't my fault.

He knows.

He knows.

Need anything?

Nah, I'm good, thanks.

I've never seen a style
like that before.
It's really cool.

-Do you draw?
No, no, no.
I can't draw for shit.

I'm a photographer.
Hm, shit.
What kind of pictures you take?
Anything beautiful really.
But mostly landscapes.
So like birds and parks
and shit.
(Gloria laughs)

It's a little more complicated
than that,
but, yeah,
I'm figuring it all out.

I'm in my second year at SVA.
Shit, what's that like?
It's really cool.
I'm making connections,
figuring out the whole
business side of things.

I'm prepping my first solo show
right now.

Maybe I could come check out
your work some time.


By the way, I've never seen Luis
in here with anyone before.
How you two know
each other?

Said he could help me
with some stuff.

You should get out
of that chair.

(speaking in Spanish)

That's my spot.

My bad.
What's good though?

I already told you,
Cuban sandwiches.

Two Cubans?
I'm good.
(speaking in Spanish)
Two Cubans comin' right up.

So what can I do for you today?
Well, I wanted to show you
these, uh,
these portraits
I've been working on.

I've been trying to get
the capture the feeling
of the face thing you told me
about, you know?

Oh, and, uh,
I forgot to give you this.
That's yours, man.
Yo, my mom might be more pissed
knowin' that I took your coat
than I robbed your ass.
That's right.
I got my wallet back.

Anyway, you want to buy one?

20 each.

Yeah, yeah.
But I have no money this week.
I bought myself a gun,
so I kinda tapped out my budget.

You keep drawin' the same face
over...and over.
This is my little brother,
He had cerebral palsy.

Kids used to call him retarded
and shit,
but he was smarter
than all of 'em.
He just couldn't do much
by himself.

He passed away recently.

Sorry to hear that.

Fuck am I doin' here?
Why would you want
pictures of my little brother?
I lost the love of my life
to cancer.

She was the best dancer ever.
Funny, too.

Made me laugh
all the way to the end.

Malik had all these jokes
about himself
and his disease, too.

'Bout how our dad bounced
'cause of him.

Guess he thought if them
other kids was gonna clown him,
he might as well be the one
in control, you know?

Smart kid.
My moms would, uh,
send us to this camp
every summer.
This one year,
I painted this plate for him.


But, um...

I'll never forget
the look on his face
when I showed it to him.

From that day forward,
he never ate off anything else.

(cell phone vibrating)

Fuck you at?
Around the way, what's good?
Tomorrow's initiation night,
Just tell me
you got that bread.
All ready, B.
Damn. Check you in the a.m.
Say that.

Here's my number.

If you need someone
to talk to, call me.

A'ight. Thanks.
Be safe!
(indistinct chatter)

These are beautiful, Kadir.
You certainly know how
to capture emotion in the eyes.
Can I get into art school
with those?
Talent alone doesn't make you
a college candidate.
So you're saying
it's not gonna happen?
I'd like to hold on to this,
I may be able to help.
Wait, you want me--
you want me to leave my book?
It's safe with me.
In the meantime,
focus on your grades
and stop cutting school.

(items rattling,
spoon clattering)

Here, lil' bro.
Nah, I'm good, OG.
Why you always actin'
like you too good for shit?
Come on,
it ain't even like that.
I'm just tryin' to stay focused
right now.
First you tell me
you wanna be crew.
Then you got Moe talkin'
'bout college and shit.
What the fuck is up with that?

Look, I'm tryin' to tell you,
that world,
bunch of blind suckers.
They'll judge you
for your worst mistakes
rather than your art.
How you question yourself,
your voice.
You feel me?

Yo, fuck we talkin'
'bout this for?
I thought was was gettin' up.
But how you crew
if you ain't paid your dues?
It's not that much, but...
it should at least be enough
Okay. The fuck is my gun?
About that, um...

I hit--I had hit that bodega
over on Story,
but shit got wild.
Cops pulled up,
I had to book it.

Tossed your gun too.

Kid, kid, kid.
What I'mma do with you, man?

We doin' this or what?
You owe me for that piece, too.
Say 650.
Matter of fact,
you crew with us,
so you get a discount,


Yes, sir!

Yo, kid!

You celebratin' or what?






Yo, Skemes,
fuck you put in this?
Smoke, nigga.
I'm good.
Maybe you in now?

Yo, kid.
I got somethin' for you.

So you can go by me
as soon as you take off.

We need your wings
and that, kid.
You'll fly high.

We definitely flyin' high

(distorted laughter)

Yo, kid!
Just gonna...
go add a signature for you.
Fuck is so funny?
Oh, you--you being dead ass.
Just don't fuck it up.
Or I'mma fuck you up.
Say that.
Y'all see me?
Yo, Punch, catch this.
Stop fuckin' playin' with me,
what I'd tell him?
Fuck it up.
-Fuck it up!
-What you talkin' 'bout, baby?
Come on,
who fuckin' it up?
-That's what I'm talkin' about.
-OTL, baby.
OTL, baby!
Yeah, OTL!
Fuck y'all fools.
Aww, yeah!
(glass shatters)
-What the fuck is up?
I told your bitch-ass crew
not to be over here
at our building.
They're marked for dead!
Yo, this is VHS territory,
Respect the OG.
The OG dead.
(speaking in Spanish)
Well, it's the OG's VHS,
so put some fuckin' respect
on that shit, you heard?
Or what?
KS was my site.
And ain't none of you niggas
nice enough
to be claiming territory anyway.
Them the same niggas
that pointed a gun
at me and kid last week.
Man, y'all niggas is pussy.
-Look at y'all,
lookin' like a bunch
of schoolboys
ran by a washed-up prophet.
You done?
-Oh, shit!
Pick ya nigga up
before he bleed out.
Don't pop on this nigga!
-Go, go!
-Come on, come on!

You, stop right there!

What'd you do now?
Nothin', Ma, but...

I-I need you to come
bail me out.
You are not in jail. Shit!
I know, just listen.
After everything
we have been through,
you go and get yourself arrested
and then have the nerve
to call me for bail?

You're not just gonna act
like a man.
It is time for you to be one.
Ma, I know, but just listen.
(dial tone)

Got anyone else?
(cell door buzzes)

Come on, it's safe.
It's okay, come on.
Okay, a little faster,
I wanna sleep, okay?
There you go.
Thanks for lettin' me crash, yo.
I could do the dishes
or take out the trash,
if you need me to.
Nah, it's five a.m.,
I got school in a few.
Mm. Good answer.
Okay, lemme give you
the grand tour.
Bathroom's in the back,
that's my bedroom there.
You gonna sleep in here,
I got some bedding in there
for you.
And, uh, yeah.
Mi casa, tu casa.
(faucet running)
(faucet running)
(items clattering)

Okay, mijo.



(indistinct chatter)
(bell rings)
Yo, what the fuck is goin' on?
Something happened with Moe.
Must be bad, though,
'cause they going through
all of his shit.
(medical devices beeping)
Wait outside.
What the fuck happened?
VHS caught him.
Where the fuck was you at?
I got locked.
Fuck you mean,
you got locked?
How you get locked
and he get jumped?
I got--I got locked,
I went home,
I didn't do shit!
What the fuck
we 'bout to do about Moe?
Shit hot right now.
I'm gon' lay low upstate.
(indistinct speaking).
As soon as he seen his shadow,
gon' push the button
on all them VHS niggas.
I'mma need you on this one, kid.
So don't disappoint me, a'ight?
You gon' have a real problem.
That's the last thing
you need right now,
a fuckin' problem.
(distant sirens)
(medical device beeping)
(pencil scratching)
(water flowing)
(banging on door)
Oh, yo!
(banging on door, grunting)

(knocking on window)

You a'ight?
Y'all don't sweat
none of this shit, B.
Skeme's already plottin'.
I don't care.
What you mean?
Why do you think I been
pushin' you so hard, kid?
'Cause you better
than all of this shit.
He try,
and he didn't get back up.
You know what he learned?
The way that I love him.
What if everything you was told
was bullshit?

(door squeaks open)


You back?

I don't really wanna talk;
can I just sit?

Pick out somethin' classy.

(door opens)

Bye, lil'G.

-Sleep well.

(door closes)

No one's gonna save you, Kadir.

What happened to Maurice
is terrible.
So I need you to choose.
-Choose what?
-Not to die.
A'ight, so you tell me
what to do.
I can't tell you what to do.
That's the point.
But I do have
an interesting option
for you to consider.
I've already discussed it
with your mother.
My ma?
A friend of mine works at Pratt.
Heard of it?
Well, it's an art school,
and a hard one to get into.
But my friend works
in Admissions,
and she thinks
you have some potential.
Review those thoroughly.
If you wanna stand out,
make your essay and portfolio
a priority.

This here says I gotta submit
an observational piece
in my portfolio.
What does that even mean?
Drawings or paintings
of your real life,
to see your perspective,
not your technical ability.

They wanna see my perspective?

Still don't get it.

I-I've never modeled,
if that's what you're asking.
I'm not asking you shit,
I'm just sayin'
I could draw...
I don't know why
they give a fuck
if it's from a picture,
whatever the fuck.
I work for the MTA.
You know often
someone wants to hear
my perspective of the world?
So what do you think
I should draw?
What do you see?
Right now, I see nothin'.
I have an idea.
You could keep staying with me,
with some rules, though.
-Nah, fuck rules.
If I wanted rules,
I'd go back home.
Okay, okay, okay, okay,
listen to me.
I know change scares people.
It scared me!
Okay? But here's the problem.
People get comfortable
and they stay in the same place.
But you know, fuck that shit,
that's bullshit.
Look. Change is good.
Embrace it!
-What rules?
Okay, first...
you get your life together.
You get yourself a job.
Put some money away.
Help you pay for college, okay?
Not a bad idea.
What you lookin' at?

Thank you.


How are you paying?

With money.
Like, cash or card?


Okay. So, card.

Yo, Luis!
How's your first day of work?
Cool, cool, appreciate
you hookin' it up.
Yo, what is all this?
You takin' up paintin' now?
For your application.
Yo, I...
I don't--I don't get it.
Why you doin' all this?
Why me?
You gotta start
taking your life more seriously.
None of us have time to waste.
Well, some real shit, I...
I don't how
I'mma ever repay you.
Let's focus on you showin'
that school what you made of.
Here you go.
Yo, I been meaning to ask you,
by the way.
Why did you fix Malik's plate?
Uh, when I was overseas,
I heard of this thing, um...
uh, wasabi.
It's an appreciation
for the broken.
So if you believe
in this wasabi shit,
the plate actually
looks more beautiful
with the cracks.
I-I really appreciate it.

Go slower.
Try to keep that line clean.

Yeah, don't pick up the pen too.

I see you.
Lemme find out you prophet nice.
(Luis chuckles)
Is that a compliment?
See, there's different types
of writers, right?
So, uh, you got rebels
who got strong messages
in their work,
and there's devils.
Devils don't give a fuck
about style,
they just be on some bullshit.
Then you got prophets.
They kinda rep it all.
They'll style,
true to the culture,
respected by everyone.
(speaking in Spanish)
What kind of a writer are you?
Not shit yet.
Streets tell you what you are.
But, uh,
I ain't put in enough work.
You know, I never really
understood this world or way.
Hector was so into it.
Honestly, I always thought
it was some kind of vandalism,
Yo, what up with Hector,
by the way?
That's your nephew, right?
Should bring him 'round
I haven't spoken to him in--
in a while.
You miss him?
I do...I do.
Hit him up, then.
Family tricky,
but it's all we got, right?
(doorbell jingles)

(cash register chimes)

(glass shatters)

Shit, man.

Kadir, it's your mother.
Um...I don't know
where you're staying,
and things haven't been well
between us,
but don't you ever forget
that you're my son.

Believe that I love you
so much.

Call me.
(door squeaks open)
Yo, what up, B?


Just been mindin' my business.

Heard you were starting rehab,
got you some books.
(Moe laughs)
Appreciate you, man.
Oh, sure.
Shit, what's good with you,
You a'ight?
Shit, I'm cooler, man,
I get high for free.
Can't complain.
(Moe coughs)
Hey, yo.
My brother was over here earlier
and he keep askin' 'bout you.
Everything good?
Yeah, we straight.
Yo, B, be careful.
We straight.
So what's up with that
college shit, man?
You know, tryin' to be
in the dorm,
baggin' all the shorties, man?
(Kadir laughs)
Shit, bro.
Still gotta figure
this shit out.
Got this essay
and some submission piece
bullshit, you know?
So what the fuck
you waitin' on?
I mean...
so they sayin'
they wanna see my perspective.
But, uh...
Bro, shit.
I don't know if it was meant
for life outside the Bronx.
Listen, B.
You gotta write some essay,
make some dope-ass piece
just to get the fuck outta here?
What are you really waiting for?

Let's go, Yankees!

Let's go, Yankees!

Let's go, Yankees!
(rhythmic clapping)
Let's go, Yankees!
-(rhythmic clapping)
-(cell phone vibrating)
Let's go, Yankees!
-(rhythmic clapping)
-(cell phone vibrating)
Let's go, Yankees!
(indistinct speaking)
Let's try--one more time!
Let's go, Yankees!
(rhythmic clapping)
Let's go, Yankees!
(rhythmic clapping)
Let's go, Yankees!
(subway screeching to a stop)

Let's go, Yankees!

Right here, man.
Thank you.
All right, brother.



(singing in Spanish)

(speaking in Spanish)
Oh, shit!
Don't fuckin' do that!
Scared the shit outta me, man!
-You alright?
I said, I said--
Yo, can I turn this down?

Did anybody, uh, come through
here lookin' for me?
Why would anybody come here
looking for you?

How was work?

Oh, man.
From the island,
I have arroz con maiz.
(speaking in Spanish)
We have pasteles
and we have guineos maduros.

You sure you good, though?
(speaking in Spanish)
Don't ask me stupid questions.
Can you just
set the table?


Ah, yeah!
(singing gleefully)
They gave me a promotion today.
Oh, whoa, whoa, whoa, wepa!
Time to celebrate.
That's it, that's it--oh.
Wait, wait, wait,
wait, wait, wait...
(turns volume up)

(speaking in Spanish)

Oh no, no, no, no, no...
(speaking in Spanish)
I told you, no phones at--
no phones at the table!

(pained yet gleeful

Yo, why don't you chill out?
You already drunk.
If you don't like it here,
you know where the door is,
Nobody's stopping you!

You just eat.
Eat, eat, eat.
(speaking in Spanish)

(cell phone vibrating)
(pencil scribbling)
Oh, I forgot to tell you.
My moms texted me today
to wish me a happy birthday.
Can't lie, kinda miss her.
Yeah, yeah, that's great.
Okay, this is the place,
we're here.
Yo, what's this big secret, man?
I really don't want
nothin' else from you.
It's okay, man.
Come on.

Yeah, I got an invitation
from Gloria.
She wanted you to check out
some of her artwork.

Freaky stuff!

(speaking in Spanish)
Oh, my God!
Oh, wow!

You guys actually came.
His eighteenth birthday.

No way.
Happy Birthday.
Thank you.
All right, lemme take
your coats, come on.
Oh, I'm good.
No, I'm gonna hold on to mine.
I'm just gonna look around,
you know?
Well, uh, hurry back, okay?
I need them to think
you're actually interested
in my prints.
Gotta keep the pressure on
in here.

What do you think?
Uh...I mean, you look great,
you look great.

Thank you!
Um...but I'm talking
about my photos.

-What do you--what do you think?

Uh...yeah, they...

I-I-I think they're all awesome.
Capturing Harlem's
sociopolitical power
before gentrification
with its architecture.

Okay, uh--
Yeah, yeah, no, yeah.
Oh, I--I--okay, I see it,
oh, I see it.
Come on, there's someone
I wanna introduce you to.


This is my boyfriend Ade.
We started all this together.
Inside Collective.
Babe, this is Kadir.

Kadir's got some
serious raw talent.
So, uh,
which gallery are you at?

No gallery.
I flex in the streets.
True art.
OTL's my crew.
-Outside The Lines.
-Oh shit.
You run with Skemes.
Yeah, how you know him?
We went to
school of design together
back in the day.
Crazy motherfucker,
but nasty with paint.
Had cops and galleries
banging on his door.

Hey, but broham, uh,
I gotta take this,
but you hit us up
if you ever want
to get your work
in front of some real clientele.

That's Mr. and Mrs. Sterling.

They love Ade.
Yeah, I wish
they'd buy some of my prints.
(urine flowing)
Got it.
Come on, come on,
come on now, ugh fuck.
Oh yeah.
Oh, finally.
Finally, okay.

(clock ticking)


(can pops open)

I didn't know
you were in a graff gang
ran by a guy named, uh,
It's more like a family.
We look out for each other.

not everybody got it
like you or your boy out there.
Don't let Ade get to you, okay?

He's not the social type.
I think that's what
makes his art so provoking.

Being an asshole
doesn't make you a great artist.

I think using your talent
to change your situation
makes anyone great.

This is Hale House.

They take in
moms with drugs problems,
babies born with addiction.

I didn't think
uppity places like this
cared about shit like that.

What's that supposed to mean?



What's your artistic thesis?


Artistic thesis?

It ain't deep.
That's the point.
More of a "fuck you"
to the folks
who think they can
control our hood.
So who exactly are these, uh,
Rich folks,
who we pay our rent to.
We're making sure that they know
that the hood is still ours.
Oh yeah, with bubble letters?
Yo, we doing way more than
any of the shit that I see here.

So you don't think
my art says anything?

You take pictures for rich folks
so they can talk about
crack babies
over lobster dinner.
But wait.
-Yo, Luis, we out.
-Hey, yo!
You ruined my prints.
So what was that all about
back there?
Fuck it!
Tonight we celebrate.
Here you go.
(speaking in Spanish)
Feliz cumpleaos.

(singing in Spanish)

Kid, I love that.
Oh, oh, oh, shit.
-Fuck, Luis?
-Oh, man.
-You all right?
-I'm fine,
-I'm fine, I'm fine, fine, fine.
-You good--come here.
Come here,
we're going to the couch.
(Kadir laughs)
-Give me my sketchbook.
Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait,
wait, wait, wait, wait.
I mean--I mean--
so wait, I mean--oh!
Ready, cheers, cheers.
-Oh, okay.
You gotta tell me
about that mysterious painting,
'cause, you know,
you haven't even
put a brush on that canvas.
Yeah, I'm still figuring it out,
you know?
Guess I really just wanna...
...make something
Malik would love.
why you carrying this guilt?
He knew he wasn't
supposed to lock the door.
I thought
he was playing at first.
And I heard him struggle.
Sounded like he was--
Sounded like
he was punching the water.
I had to--
I had to break the door down
with a hammer.
You know?
I can't get it out of my head.
His leg was--
His leg was hanging out the tub.
He was twitching.
His eyes--
His eyes was staring at me.
And he had this smile.
He had this smile.
And it was weird.
It was real fuckin' weird.
You know what's fucked up?
When it happened...
...I felt...
...I felt relief.
Like I could just--
Like I could just
do me for once.
-Luis, what the fuck?
-Oh shit.
-I'm okay.
(Kadir laughs)
I'm cold.
-I'm cold.
-Ugh, fuck.
Turn up the heat,
turn up the heat.
I'm cold.
Here, here,
take your fuckin' blanket.
-Is that okay?
-That's okay?
-Okay, relax.

You're a good kid, Hector.

You're a good kid.

(cell phone vibrating)

(cell phone vibrating)
-Yo, it's go time on VHS.
-'Sup, Skemes?
I know about
your new best friend
over on Zarika.
And don't show up empty handed.
(cell phone beeps)

-Luis, shit, um, I--
-What are you doing?
How dare you,
you broke in here?
I know, man, I know,
but listen, I had to.
You know, get out, get out!
-Get out of my home!
-Yo, you--
you lied about Hector, though.
You have no respect!
I bring you into my home,
my home.
I try to--I try to guide you,
and you fuckin' do this!
Luis, I know,
I'm--I'm sorry, just listen--
This is not your home.
You don't own anything here,
but a fuckin'
bunch of spray cans
and a fuckin' broken plate!
Nah, nah, you don't got
no right to judge me,
you fuckin' alcoholic.
You probably got this way
around your wife and kids, too,
-You know what?
That's why your mother
gave up on you.
Gave up on you because she knows
you're gonna end up dead!
Like your brother.
Fuck you.
Fuck you!
I don't got time for this shit.
You really thought
you could use me
to replace your son?
you're gonna learn
that the mess you make
is your own shit.
Get out, get out!
-Get out!
-Fuck this shit, man.
-I'm sorry.
-Fucking lying
this whole fuckin' time.
Fuckin' die alone
if you want to,
I don't give a fuck!
I don't need this shit, man.
-(door opens)

About time you showed up.

Damn, kid.
This piece looks just like mine.
Practically identical.

Found the guy who took it.

No shit.
That's some luck.

It's time to go to war.

Y'all better be ready
to get going.
Damn, bro.
My nigga, bump me one more time,
I'll throw you
-off the fuckin' train.
-My man, it's a crowded train.
You want comfort?
-Buy a fuckin' car.
-Oh, you think you funny, huh?
Keep fuckin' jokin', nigga.
Make me laugh,
you bitch-ass nigga.
-Shut the fuck up.
-Keep fuckin' jokin',
bitch-ass nigga.
-Fuck out of here.
get the fuck off the train.
(indistinct chatter)

(indistinct speaking
on television)

I don't wanna fight no more,
can we just talk?
You always think someone tryin'
to fight with you.
Can we not?
You carry a child for...
three seasons.
You push him out.
You take care of him
day after day,
and you don't even
have a choice.
Doesn't matter if you're gonna
care for him or not.
He's just a part of you.
the reason
I have been so unwell
is that it feels like
a piece of me is buried,
and I'm just never
gonna get it back again.
It wasn't my fault.
I know.
You were not the cause
for Malik's death.
Yeah, but you blame me.
You're right, I did blame you.
There were days
that I blamed you.
You think I wanted
to be a single mother
and have you two here
in all this mess?
Hell no, I just needed you
to take care of my baby.
No one took care of me!
You're right.
Baby, it was too much for you.
Yo, Luis.

Yo, kid, wake up!

When can I see the piece?

Still working on it.

Can you at least open the door?

(door opens)

(door closes)

Yo, Luis.


Who are you?

Buffin' your own shit now?
Where in the world
have you been, little bro?
Been worried sick.
Yo, that was
some sucker shit, kid.
Going AWOL while we at war.
We're tryin' to
avenge your best friend.
-Whatever, man.
You see, the thing is,
VHS gonna come back stronger.
Oh, what,
you don't think they're gonna
come lookin' for you, too?
So check it.
(pills rattling)
Pop these percs, hit HQ,
and we will figure out
a future of OTL.
You know, I'm really tired
of being loyal to you
and your bullshit.
So on some real shit,
fuck you, Skemes.
You really think
I won't kill you?
I don't.
'Cause you know I could be
bigger than all this shit,
and that shit piss you off,
Ain't no dishonor with
discharging this shit, nigga.
I birthed you, kid.
Don't make me abort my own son.

Why you always actin'
like the victim all the time?

Frontin' like you ain't choose.
Fuck that,
beg to be a part of this shit.
Yo, we could've
took this shit over, me and you.
You could've been prophet.
So busy tryin' to be
somebody else,
you don't realize you got
what everybody else want.

Yo, kid!
I doubt your brother
would've been cool
with you leaving us to die,
like you did him.

Yo, stop talkin' 'bout Malik!
Fuck is you gonna do, nigga?


You let me catch you
taggin' OTL,
or any other crew in the Bronx
for that matter,
done with all of that shit, B.
You heard?
You done with all of this shit.

Ain't worth gettin' into.

Your gallery?
Figured it'd be nice
to have some photos here, too.
So what made you switch it up?
Realized it's the people,
not the buildings
that make the neighborhood.

Looks great in here.

I know I was
on some bullshit before.

I'm sorry.

Apology accepted.

Did you know?

How sick he was?

Not until I developed that.

Should've come sooner.


I wanna show you something.

Found it.

-Was it wasabi, right?
-No, wabi-sabi,
a world perspective centered on
the acceptance of imperfection,
sometimes described
as the aesthetics of beauty
that is imperfect,
impermanent, incomplete.

This past year has been
the most important of my life.
As a young creative
and student of art,
I finally learned to swim.
For years I heard
Black people don't swim.

The South Bronx is my home.
It's beautiful here,
but so many are trapped
inside that beauty.
How could you change the world
if you don't know
what's out there?
I couldn't see past
the Hudson or the East River,
so I climbed north
as high as I could
to always remind myself
of the beauty
within the trapped,
to see what the world could be.
I escaped
when I finally understood
the reach
of my artistic ability.
My failure to understand this
almost cost me my life.

Truth is,
my artistry is my voice.
I get that now,
and it doesn't need to be loud
or with big bubble letters.

I wish I could say
the last year
reminded me of my value,
but unfortunately,
it was a tough lesson,
an extremely long and painful,
but colorful one.

I no longer dream of drowning,
'cause the higher I climb,
the less I hear the doubters.
I hope you're able
to see that in my work.

Ideally, inside the halls
of the university
is where I could find
new altitude,
my next great reminder.
There isn't a better time
for us to become acquainted.
My name is Kadir Grayson
and I'm a fantastic swimmer.

Huh, look in the mirror,
see my own reflection
I'm tryna navigate my way
through this maze
but I got no direction
Having issues with haters
that think they own
my section
I pray to God but these guns
feel like better protection
Feel like it's me
against the world,
some shit I'm regrettin'
My mom's stressin',
at school I'm not progressin'
She don't know my tribulations
and trials,
situation's wild
I've been turnstiled
through my loud crowd
If we ain't cool,
I won't shake hands
Plottin' to make grands
All I need is weed
and my spray can
Weight of the world
on my shoulders
My soul speaks through
the Krylon
Got no shoulder to cry on
Every day it gets colder
Who do I rely on
Me, myself, and I is all
I got until my time's gone
How much of my problems
is my fault
I solve every single one
with all the hundreds
in the bank vault

Big dreams is all we have
Learn to read
the writin's on the wall
I'm from Story Ave
Got money on my mind,
fire in my bag
Weight of the world
on my shoulders
Tag my autograph
Big dreams is all we have
Learn to read
the writin's on the wall
I'm from Story Ave
Got money on my mind,
fire in my bag
Weight of the world
on my shoulders
Tag my autograph
I got styles
you never seen before
I'm somethin'
like Rembrandt
When I draw
I leave you all in awe
I'm all city,
autograph my tag on the wall
I put my pain in the paint,
prayin' you feel my scars
I'm in here forever,
my life behind these bars
The world is large,
gonna make a charge
Learned some hard lessons
'cause I had
the wrong mentors
But God wouldn't give me
a trial I couldn't endure
Nothin' came easy
on this path I was meant for
Two Dutches from the store,
duck the clutches of the law
Gettin' high on the rooftop,
tryin' to forget what I saw
The concrete roads
that got blood in the dorms
My brother gone,
my mother mourn
Tryin' to change the channel,
but ain't nothin' else
comin' on
I deal with it
You'll never find it if you
lookin' for a meal ticket
They try to copy my style but
they got the skills missin'
Big dreams is all we have
Learn to read
the writin's on the wall
I'm from Story Ave
Got money on my mind,
fire in my bag
Weight of the world
on my shoulders
Tag my autograph
Big dreams is all we have
Learn to read
the writin's on the wall
I'm from Story Ave
Got money on my mind,
fire in my bag
Weight of the world
on my shoulders
Tag my autograph