"Ten Crack Commandments" is the fifth track on the second disc of the Notorious B.I.G.'s second album, Life After Death. In the lyrics, Biggie delineates the ten rules every aspiring clocker should live by in order to maximize their profits and minimize their chances of jail or death.

1) Never let no one know how much dough you hold.
2) Never let 'em know your next move.
3) Never trust nobody.

As someone who has chosen to make their living on the wrong side of the law, you don't have the luxury of going to the police if robbed and/or assaulted. The best way of avoiding this is to prevent yourself from being placed in this situation in the first place. Don't flash your bankroll around and give people ideas, don't fall into a routine that can be easily observed and intercepted, and don't trust anyone. As Biggie succinctly puts it:

Your moms'll set that ass up, properly gassed up,
Hoodie to mask up, shit, for that fast buck,
She be layin' in the bushes to light that ass up...

Everyone has their price -- even your closest friends and family -- and you don't want to find out just how low that price is.

4) Never get high on your own supply.

Quite possibly the most important commandment of all. Many dealers smarter than you thought that they could keep their business and their pleasure separated, only to find themselves caught up, overindulged and underfinanced. Every last grain of product you recieve needs to be accounted for. Shrinkage is not tolerated.

5) Never sell no crack where you rest at.

Relating closely to the seventh commandment, this prevents police or would-be thieves from targeting your home. Remembering the old adage that possession is nine tenths of the law, keeping your supply and your residence separated at all times can only benefit you in the event of legal trouble.

6) That goddamn credit? Dead it.

An obvious one, but if common sense were common, it would just be called sense. You can't trust a junkie with anything. Anything. A crackhead will tell you that the sun rises in the west if he thinks it might possibly get him another fix. And you want to trust your money to someone like this? Get your money -- all of your money -- up front. Cash only. No collateral, no trade-ins, no frequent customer discounts. This ain't Safeway.

7) Keep your family and business completely separated.

No good can come from involving your family and friends in your day job. Best case scenario: they're good at dealing, and now you've got a new competitor on your hands. More likely: one way or another, they'll end up using. Now what?

You're the one who brought them here, put them in this situation. You may not have put the pipe in their mouth or made them inhale, but you might as well have. You may be able to justify selling to people you don't know and/or don't care about by telling yourself that they're weak, that they will buy it from someone else if they don't get it from you, so why not get paid? But when it's your brother, your sister, your father, your best friend, your cousin, someone you know and care about who's barreling full speed down a road that you've seen endless junkies travel down -- things change. So take this small bit of advice and save yourself the hassle: personal life and work life do not mix.

8) Never keep no weight on you.

Funny thing about probable cause -- cops seem to be able to come up with it at any time, anywhere. You never know when you'll be shaken down by the neighborhood beat, so don't carry anything on you at any time. For some reason, it'll always be that "one time" you're dropping off a few vials when the too-familiar Crown Vic pulls up in front of you and plainclothes hop out, grinning and waving their cuffs.

9) If you ain’t gettin bagged, stay the fuck from police.

Everyone gets picked up eventually. It's inevitable. What you have to watch out for are those detectives who constantly try to draw you into conversations, minor battles of will and wit. Maybe you're smarter than them, maybe you're not. But all the street is going to see is you talking with a cop, and the only people that willingly talk to police are snitches. You'll definitely lose your credibility and possibly your life. Just step away. If the police are there, you shouldn't be. It's that simple.

10) A strong word called consignment; if you ain’t got the clientele say hell no.

Ideally, you've been saving a large portion of your profit. Only amateurs sell when they're broke. Professionals are working all the time, around the clock, because they realize that you can never predict when things are about to go pear-shaped and you'll be in dire need of every cent you can lay hands on.

Realistically, you've probably been blowing it on expensive cars, fancy electronic equipment, and fast women. So when the opportunity for a exceptionally large, exceptionally profitable deal arises, you might not have the capital to purchase the product you need outright. This is where consignment comes in.

Consignment is extremely dangerous. A lot of dealers move up to consignment because they feel "it's time", not because they can actually sell all the product in the required amount of time. They fail to adequately weigh the risks and rewards, instead stroking their egos with the knowledge that they're "big time players" now. Keep a few basic facts in mind:

Your connect doesn't deal in vials or grams; he moves kilos and metric tons, and he is going to want his money, no matter what. If the deal falls through, he's not going to want his product back. He has plenty of product. That's what he does: he moves product. He's going to want his money. If it turns out to be a bust, and you're sitting in lockup waiting for your lawyer, that's too bad. He still wants his money. Even if the deal goes through smoothly, there's always the chance that he's getting squeezed by someone else and sees the opportunity to make it up through raising your cost retroactively.

Consignment, for the most part, is a fool's game, especially when a bit of foresight and planning can eliminate the need to take such large risks.

I suppose the most important thing to remember -- Commandment Zero, if you will -- is that no one's luck lasts forever. Sooner or later, you will be busted. Sooner or later, a bust will lead to a conviction. Sooner or later, a customer will be a tad too jumpy and you'll go for your gun. Sooner or later, you'll be too slow. Your only hope is to get out for good before that day comes.

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