MEANS TO AN END
‘CHAMBA’ MUSIC After winning battles all over Boston with the Body Rock MCs, Ennis
was asked to join up with the city’s premier hip-hop franchise, the Almighty RSO.
Ennis was 16 when a friend pulled up to his Wheatland Avenue stoop in a brand new Chevy Corsica. At the time Ennis was working at Charrette, an art-supply store in Woburn where he had worked his way up, starting in the ninth grade, from picker, to forklift operator, to assistant manager. He had some money saved, so when his buddy told him that he secured the Chevy with a measly $250 down payment, Ennis wasted no time. "The next day," he says, "I went and got the red, red, red, red coupe."
The gig at Charrette introduced Ennis to new and interesting frontiers. Not having traveled much outside of Dorchester, it was a chance to meet white friends and get drunk in the woods. But what he most loved was the financial freedom. Though raised in a middle-class home with a social-worker mom, a grandmother who was a nurse, and a handyman grandfather, Ennis — whose family came to Boston from Honduras in the '60s — was one of four children and did not have a father to provide. With his job, he was able to sport stylish clothes and a mint two-door.
After more than three years at Charrette, Ennis's suburban lifeline got cut when, along with a number of other employees, he lost his job amidst a recession in the early '80s. Retail employment proved impossible to come by, and, with car payments mounting, Ennis became desperate to earn the kind of ends to which he'd grown accustomed. It was a no-brainer to ride along with his mother's then-boyfriend, a Jamaican who owned a variety store on Lucerne Street and Woodrow Avenue.
"They sold shit like candy and chips, but what they really sold was weed," says Ennis, revealing his frosty gold fronts as he grins at the memory. "I used to sit in there and sell it for him — little yellow manila envelopes with five or six joints' worth of weed. I was already smoking since I was 11 years old, so it was nothing. But that was just the beginning. It was just a few months before I got into some real heavy shit."
LIVING PROOF After facing foreclosure himself last year, Ennis now works with others —
like Marshall “Pops” Cooper Jr. (above left) — who are fighting predatory lenders.
DOWN THE TOILET
Along with accomplices who also lived near the Four Corners neck of Dorchester, Ennis spent most of the '80s and '90s selling coke and partying. Their chief motivation was to make music, and by moving weight, they were able to press albums, tour in class, and shoot big-budget videos. Ennis's rhymes were illicit from early on — reflecting a time when caricature Cadillac pimps ran the 'hood— and soon enough, Ennis's mic skills would get him as many props as his chromed-out Lincoln Mark IV. By the mid-'80s — after dropping out of Dorchester High and serving an 18-month bid for gun possession — his neighborhood crew, the Body Rock MCs, were winning battles all across the city.