Hip-hop/Spirituality/Freethinking. Speaking for all underdogs!
Confessions of a (Hip-Hop) ex-Informant!
By Khalil Amani
What does ex-Mafia underboss Sammy “The Bull” Gravano,” ex-Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas and hip-hop blogger Khalil Amani have in common? We were all in the freakin’ Federal Witness Protection Program! Sammy, for his Mafia ties, Frank, for peddling dope and Khalil, for confronting and standing up to religious thuggery.
Unlike rappers like The Game, who was on TV's "Change of Heart" (a dating show trying to find love) and a stripper or Rick Ross, who was a Correctional Officer—these guys never talk about their goody-goody past lives. They would rather not own up to their paths, because they’re worried about hip-hop imagery, which glorifies gangsterism, drug culture and street cred. Indeed, they care what people think about them! If it’s not conducive to hip-hop culture (like having a day job!), they’d rather not talk about it. That’s where they—and I differ.
Some might think I’ve “Trojan Horsed” the hip-hop blogging game after reading this, but that simply isn’t the case. I’ve never cared to hide my past life. In fact, I wrote a 373-page book about my past life entitled, “My Id: Ignant & Dissfunkshunal! Life in the Yahweh Cult and the Witness Protection Program” (iuniverse.com 2007 ISBN 978-0-595-45389-4), where I detail my work for the F.B.I. and having to enter the Federal Witness Security Program (the correct name for the Witness Protection Program a.k.a. “Witsec”).
I’ve never ran from or shied away from talking about my cooperation with the F.B.I. back-in-the-day. Over the years, I’ve been featured on five (5) national TV shows talking about my (cult) experience—in 1988 CBS’s, “West 57th Street,” in 2010 The Biography Channel’s, “I Survived a Cult,” in 2013 The Biography Channel’s “Escaping Evil: My Life in a Cult,” Investigation Discovery (ID) channel's, "Cults." in 2018 and on Oxygen Channel's, "Uncovered: The Cult of Yahweh Ben Yahweh." My story has been told in the Sunday edition of The Miami Herald as well as numerous other publications and most recently in Jan-Feb. 2019 issue of People Magazine. A book, written by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Sydney P. Freedberg entitled, “Brother Love: Murder, Money and a Messiah” (Pantheon Books, 1994 ISBN 0-679-42015-0) also details much of my story. Here I am in 1988 on "West 57th Street." (Jherl Curl and all!)
Khalil on national TV in 1988's on CBS's, "West 57th Street"
Khalil on national TV in 2010 on The Biography Channel's, "I Survived A Cult."
Khalil on National TV in 2013 on The Biography Channel's, "Escaping Evil"
Khalil on national TV in 2018 on Investigation Discovery (ID) Channel.
Much of my story is also told in this book.
I self-published my memoir before I wrote my first hip-hop blog, which decried homophobia in hip-hop and proclaimed myself as “Gay Hip-hop’s [Straight] Spiritual Advisor.” My past life is matter-of-factly stuff on the Internet! Yet, somehow, I found myself writing for hip-hop—Chris “Cartel” English, Davey D, DJ Kay Slay’s “Straight Stuntin Magazine” & “Originators” and Allhiphop.com amongst many others who’ve ripped off my work to gain traffic on their websites. Did anyone do a background check on me? Probably not. Here is one of the many blogs I wrote for Allhiphop.com and yes, that's my name on the cover of DJ Kay Slay's Straight Stuntin Magazine advocating for gay rappers!
We all know how hip-hop feels about people cooperating with the government! They are labeled “snitches”—even if one’s cooperation rid the neighborhood of the vermin that rapes & murders our people. To hear an ignorant rapper like Cam’ron tell it, he’d rather move out of the neighborhood rather than “snitch” on the rapist and child molester next door. That’s what he told “60 Minutes” some years ago.
Somehow, hip-hop has romanticized criminality, after the deeds and codes of the Italian Mafia and come to the ghettoized conclusion that “Snitches get Stitches.”
Without writing another 373-pages on why I was in the Federal Witness Security Program (you can buy my book or Google me to get the particulars)—I was once part of a murderous & racist cult in Miami, referred to as “The Yahwehs” who taught that all white people were devils; that white Jews were imposters and black people were God’s “Chosen People”—the real Hebrews of the Bible. There is plenty of stuff on the Internet about the leader, Yahweh ben Yahweh (who claimed to be the messiah) and how he had people doing his killing for him—mind you, mostly black people. I was one of Yahweh ben Yahweh’s original followers. For five years I saw and witnessed many unspeakable atrocities. After that I left, only to be hounded by members who sought to harm me. Couple that by the fact that the cult had taken my children from me led me to cooperate with the government. That’s the short end of it. Call me a “snitch” if you will, but when it came to my children and secondly, the black (Miami) community—I didn’t give a fuck! I’d do it all over again! I’m proud of the work I put in with the Bureau!
Here is one of numerous articles on the Miami cult and the fuck-shit they were doing in the name of religion. The leader's family would later testify that indeed, a man was murdered inside the temple at the request of the leader. (I was in Newark, New Jersey as a 23-year old "elder" of a temple when this occurred. South Orange Ave. & 10th, right up the street from Nation of Islam Temple #25 to be exact!)
I’m no Cam’ron or any of you who are bound by some bullshit “code of the streets”—too steeped in ghetto mythology to put a motherfucker away for hurting your loved one/s. Yes! I was a snitch! A proud snitch at that! I mean; a snitch by the definition of these ig-nant streets!
But really! What is a snitch? The most simple-minded definition is anyone who cooperates with law enforcement. This ignorant definition would have your mother raped & murdered and if you couldn’t retaliate, the rapist & murderer go free and your mother receives no justice, because the streets have defined your actions. The streets don’t give a fuck about you, but you give a fuck about the streets! In the words of that Korean store clerk in Menace II Society, "I feel sorry for your mother!"
A truer definition of a “snitch” would be criminals who engage in criminality and once caught, begin to tell on each other to save and/or lessen their time behind bars.
As for me, I was neither involved in criminality or in jail trying to save myself. I willingly, of my own freewill walked into the Miami Bureau of the F.B.I. and told what I had been part of. I was living the life of a monk—a pious Jew and my leader was having people offed. So, being threatened after I left, it became, “All’s far in love and war!” Here is the first interview I gave after leaving the cult. I was a gifted modern, jazz dancer and my return to the dance world in Miami was lauded. I was born "Lloyd Rodney Clark."
A year after the cult. Cooperating with the F.B.I. while still in the dance world (and watching my back for the enemy.)
Yes! After a lengthy trial, in which I was the first of a possible 160 witnesses (including the leader’s biological family and stepchildren) to testify I was told that I should go into the Federal Witness Security program and indeed, I did!
Now! If you lend me your ears (and eyes), I’m going to walk you through what it was like for me (and Sammy “The Bull” Gravano and Frank Lucas) being a government informant and the whole witness protection thingy. I’m going to reveal what has never been revealed!
As an informant, it was my job to give the F.B.I. any and all information on the cult—criminal and non-criminal. I would meet my handler (a 6’6” ex-Panamanian Olympic basketball star), in the office at first and later on in a restaurant where he’d debrief me and ask specific questions about unsolved crimes that I may have information about. I did this for a few years, wearing an F.B.I.-issued beeper back in those days (1986-’88) so that they could keep tabs on me. I was given the code name “El Indio” (The Indian). They gave me a lie detector test to make sure I was on the level. As far as being a paid informant—I never asked for any money, but on occasion my handler would put $400-$500 in my pocket. I was asked to go back into the cult and wear a wire, but I declined because I knew they searched everyone at the door. Surely I would come up missing! There was later talk of expanding my role to informing on the Nation of Islam, but this too I declined. (As Spike Lee said in the movie, "Malcolm X,” by then, “I loved pig’s feet and white women too much!”) I had no beef with the Nation. Indeed, I married a fine-ass white chick who would ride or die for me, Witness Protection Program and all!
After years of cooperating with the F.B.I. against my former teacher Yahweh ben Yahweh, he was finally arrested under R.I.C.O. (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970). The most stunning and eye-opening revelation is that my ex-leader’s own family were cooperating with the F.B.I.—his biological sister, brother-in-law, stepchildren, nieces & nephews! Fuck me! His familia! How bad does one become where blood is no longer "thicker than water?” My ex-leader’s arrest was met with relief throughout the city on Miami. There were no cries of another black leader being railroaded by the system. Black Miami had taken this man’s shit for 12-years and were glad that he was now in jail awaiting trial to the tune of 60-years.
This article is from the Sunday edition of The Miami Herald (1992). Four pages of cult disclosure. Seen by everyone from the President of the hospital I worked for to my college professors and the Dean who paid me a visit. And yes! That's me in the inset as one of my leader's bodyguards and trusted inner-circle. I was his spiritual son. I would have died for this man as well as killed for this man! #Brainwashed!
And so, a trial ensued, in which I was the first witness to testify against the leader and fifteen of his cronies—a mass trial where I had to look at sixteen people I once called my family and sixteen bulldoggin’ & angry lawyers, including Yahweh ben Yahweh’s high-powered lawyer, the former federal judge and current member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida—Alcee Hastings. (Believe it or not, Hastings went quite easy on his cross-examination and when I saw him in the hallway during recess, he was pleasant, even speaking to me with a smile.)
Right after the trial, I was escorted to my job by two Uzi-wielding F.B.I. agents to pick up my last paycheck and say my goodbyes to my coworkers. I was summarily whisked away to a safe-house and then, taken out of Miami for my safety. Shortly thereafter I entered the Federal Witness Security Program.
The Federal Witness Security Program was authorized by the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. Since its inception, more than 7,500 witnesses and 9,500 families have entered the Witness Security Program. The F.B.I. doesn’t put people in the Federal Witness Security Program. This job falls on the United States Marshal Service at the request of a federal prosecutor who believes that an informant’s/witness’s life is in danger and the Attorney General makes the final decision, but the ultimate decision to enter the Program lies squarely on the shoulders of the informant—leave your former life behind or take your chances in these streets?
Once you’ve been asked to go into the Program, the U.S. Marshals will want to know that you are competent, somewhat intelligent and not a liability, so they give you an I.Q. Test. After the test and you appear to be reasonably sane you’ll be asked to sell any property that has your name or any identifying numbers, which means you must get rid of your car, motorcycle and once they receive you—the day they whisk you away—they take every shred of identification from you, which will include your Driver’s License, Social Security Card, Birth Certificate, Credit Cards, Bank Cards, Library cards, diploma, degree, college transcripts, Passport, etc. At this point you become a NON-PERSON! You are taken out of the system and your name is taken off Wall Street (for you that understand Sovereignty). You literally do not exist anymore. (Remember the movie “Erasers?” Yeah, like that!) Whatever bad credit or outstanding bills you have go poof! Gone! The name your mother & father gave you—poof! Gone! Any children that you don’t have custody of—poof! Gone! You will never see them again.
Purgatory, limbo, erased. No more YOU! You cannot contact any person from your past ever again or visit any state or city where people know you (so they tell you).
On that day, you are escorted by two U.S. Marshals to the airport, never knowing what city you are flying to. As soon as you land, you are met by two more agents and whisked away to another flight. The U.S. Marshal Service may repeat these steps three or four or five times to throw off anyone who might be attempting to follow you.
By day’s end, you may have visited many airports. Once they take you out of the airport you are taken to a hotel (usually a pretty nice one) and there you may remain for as little as a day or as long as a month. For me, I was taken from San Diego and flown to Seattle and then to Portland where me and wifey stayed at an Embassy Suites hotel for three weeks. They leave you with $500 (each week) and tell you they’ll be in contact. “Relax & enjoy our city,” we were told.
For three weeks, me and wifey ate good, stayed up late at night, made out in the hotel Jacuzzi and fucked like rabbits (I was only 34 and she 26 back then) and scoured Portland’s used bookstores. A few times I’d frequent strip clubs when I was really bored.
The next leg of our journey into the Witness Security Program—the Marshal Service put us on an airplane (mind you, they never tell you where you’re headed!) and when we landed we were at Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington D.C. where again, we were met by two U.S. Marshals and taken out of the airport in haste and put into a van with no windows. The driver was partitioned off from us. We were two sardines in a can! For over an hour we rode in that van, never knowing if we were in D.C., Maryland or Virginia—the D.M.V.
When the doors of the van finally opened we found ourselves in (I believe) an underground garage. Right before we entered the building there was a metal detector. They asked me if I had any weapons and lo & behold, I still had my Glock 9mm in my suitcase. Immediately, they confiscated my weapon and ushered us into the building where we were taken to an “apartment” of sorts and locked in.
We were now at the official Witness Protection Headquarters where our lives would be forever changed. Here we sat in this apartment within the confines of their headquarters. Everything we needed was in there—TV, food, bed—and even a patio area outside—but ah! “Outside” on the patio stood a 12 to 15 foot cement wall. All you could see was sky. For all intents & purposes we were in jail. We could not go out the front door because it was locked from the outside.
For the next four days we were debriefed on the Program. There, we filled out paperwork that would give us new identities. They took the last of our identification and told us to choose new names. My given name was Lloyd Rodney Clark, a name I’ve hated for as long as I can remember, so it was easy for me to pick a new name. Mind you, this was 1994, the year I’d graduated from San Diego Mesa College with an Associate’s Degree in English and a Minor in Black Studies. Even though I was married to a fine-ass (white) Cuban woman—I was hardcore with the militancy and pro-black history stuff, so I certainly wasn’t gonna give myself a European name. I chose the name “KHALIL ASHANTI” (not Amani, that came later)—an Arab/West African tribal name. (Had I really understood the role of the Arab/Muslim in the Transatlantic Slave Trade at that time of my historical growth, I would’ve never named myself after another slave owner—Khalil, the Arab!)
It’s all about secrecy with the Program. After four days we were back at the airport headed to nowhere. Once we got to the gate we found out that we were headed for Omaha, Nebraska, probably just a stopover, but to our surprise, we were ushered out of the airport by a single U.S. Marshal and taken to a Residence Inn on Dodge Street—right down from the University of Nebraska. I remember thinking, “Don’t no niggas live in Omaha! Ain’t no niggas on this plane!” But then I remembered my black history! Malcolm X. El Hajj Malik El Shabazz was born and raised in Omaha! So there has to be a black community there.
After a month in Omaha we were told that this would be our new home. I kinda liked Omaha! Black community and a black-owned bookstore. I frequented the Aframerican Bookstore 3 to 4 times a week, buying hella books! Meanwhile, the U.S. Marshal Service got us situated with new Driver’s Licenses, bank accounts and Social Security Cards. Every week while we were staying at that Residence Inn we received $700—every week! We had no bills other than feeding ourselves, so the money piled up and once we got a house to live in they gave us $2000 a month, $6000 for a car, another $5500 for furniture.
When it came to getting a Driver’s License—no test require. We walked in and asked for Mr.____ and we took a picture and viola’! The same applied when we went to the bank to open up a checking account. We were told to speak to Mr. ____ and he took care of us. And when I went to get a Passport—they paid for it and in TWO DAYS I had a legal Passport to travel the world. Truly, the government does what the fuck they wanna do! They have rules & laws for the public and “black budgets” (off the books money & laws) for these kinds of situations.
What I truly found fascinating is the efficiency in which they erased and created new people. My wife had just finished her Nursing degree and had passed the California State Board Test for nursing (in her birth name) and within days, she had a nursing license in the state of Nebraska under her assumed name. And when I entered the University of Nebraska a U.S. Marshal took me to the Dean of Academics and with a few keystrokes on the computer, changed my college transcripts from Lloyd Clark to Khalil Ashanti. (Here's my ex-wife & I at her nursing graduation ceremony. The government hooked her up with a nursing degree in an assumed name and me as a Black Studies major at the University of Nebraska under my assumed name, Khalil Ashanti.)
I was kind of a big deal in Omaha. I had two cable TV shows where I’d rip to shreds white callers and black Christians. I began a Bible study group, reaching 50-60 people piled into my living room to hear me teach. When Stokely Carmichael a.k.a. Kwame Toure’ (R.I.P.) came to Omaha, I was asked to introduce him and I also spoke at the local Million Man March (’95).
No one knew that one of the most militant and a gifted voices in Omaha was a F.B.I. informant. It is something I began to wrestle with daily. During these times I thought about my duality. Not only was I an informant, but I was sleeping white! I had a white wife! (Think Clarence Williams III aka Kalinga in the movie, “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka”—militant as fuck with a white wife and two white children! LOL) That was me! I hob-knobbed and schmoozed with Omaha’s militant power elite—from Senator Ernie Chambers to Professor Matthew Stelly to Imam Naeem Muhammad to Rev. L.C. Menywether-Woods to Dr. Saidi Liwaru & Vicki Parks and Minister Melvin Muhammad of the Nation of Islam. They all knew me, but had no clue that I was in Omaha as the government’s newest enrollee in the Witness Security Program. Here I am on local cable TV in Omaha ranting on whites, Christians and spitting black history.
I was (mentally) blacker than a trillion midnights in the eyes of many, yet, when I was alone to myself in the wee hours of the night, I’d tossed and turned in my sleep over the dichotomy of my life. I was conflicted like a motherfucker and began to rethink my government involvement. Thirty-five years old standing next to a Black Liberation legend (Kwame Toure’) and in the next hour, meeting my government handler to collect my $2000 a-month funding. What a fucking conundrum! Being admired and flirted with by my black Nubian African queens in the Movement only to go home and climb in bed with Miss Ann (my white wife). I was a walking contradiction or, in the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, I was a “psychological self-misunderstanding!”
A year-and-a-half into my Witness Protection Program stint in Omaha a change finally came! My wife, this white woman who had followed me from Miami to San Diego and into the Witness Protection Program in Omaha decided to play the whore on a nigga and had an affair. I was hurt, yet relieved. We parted ways. She informed the government that she no longer wanted to be in the Witness Protection Program and was moving back to Miami. This meant that I had to make a decision—either follow her out of the Program or allow the government to relocate me, because now, even my estranged wife cannot know my whereabouts.
So I decided to let the government relocate me—again! This meant that my name, social security, driver’s license, Passport, birth certificate, etc. would be changed—again! I became Khalil Amani in a different city living a whole new life. This is where I’m at presently, but I have checked out of the Federal Witness Security Program and resumed a normal life (with my government handlers on speed-dial should I need them, but these days I keep that steel close to my hip.)
At the end of the day, this life is not scripted. We do what we do to protect self and loved ones. Like “Empire’s” character, Cookie, who did 17-years in prison by not snitching, yet, still has not escaped the throes of her governmental “shit-uation,” via a probation officer who would make her a snitch. In real life, testifying against someone is and can be a life-changing experience; so-much-so that one’s very life is in jeopardy! Indeed! The temptation/need to snitch or not snitch can be burdensome if one is steeped in street mythology. Ask yourself, “Am I involved in criminality and trying to save myself by snitching on someone or am I standing up to and against evil and speaking the truth?” Therein lies the answer.
I have never viewed myself as a snitch, but rather a freedom-fighter who would use any and all weapons at my disposal to dispose of evil; even if it means cooperating with “The Man.” I own up to my so-called “snitching” and as stated; I would do it all over again, because I know that I did an honorable thing in rescuing my children from the grip of a megalomaniac.
My life is what movies are made of! For real for real! And I haven't even told you about my dissfunkshunal dysfunctional life after the cult, between watching out for hit-men and working with the government, while being a male stripper and selling cocaine from Miami to D.C., while keeping a host of women around me; strictly for my sexual gratification. After the cult, I indulged my Id; Freud's commentary on that part of the brain that tells you to take whatever it is that you want, regardless of whom it might hurt. Yes! I have been all over this hip-hop landscape meeting rapper after rapper, while harboring the fact that I was a government informant. No one's taking the time to Google a nigga and check his background. The information is out there!
So there you have it! I’m the first person, probably ever, who has openly admitted to being in the Witness Protection Program. Is there anyone in hip-hop who’s “kept it this real?” (I doubt it!) and now I’m leaving the hip-hop blogging arena, so I thought you should know. There is no money or respect in hip-hop blogging, as much as I love writing. But alas! I contributed to hip-hop! By the orders of unseen powers I was ordered able to help steer hip-hop into a more inclusive musical genre by advocating for my gay & lesbian brethren & sistren. I helped soften the homophobia within hip-hop and made it possible for Jay Z & Kanye West to validate gays; for Young Thug to wear a dress and for Frank Ocean to come out of the closet. That will be my legacy.
There are no skeletons in my closet and I'll be damned if I let some Internet troll "out" me! I "out" myself! Judge me as thou wilt. I accept my role as a newfound hip-hop pariah. Deuces!
PS. If death should befall me in an untimely and gruesome manner, let it be known that I’m not a drug user or contemplating suicide. I love my family, children, and grandchildren and have every intention on reaching a ripe old age.
Author, poet, essayist, blogger, troll, satirist, cultural critic, freethinker, father, grandfather, husband & C.O.O.N (Consciously Optimistic, Overtly, Nihilistic), Khalil Amani is "Gay hip-hop's Straight Advocate." A Miami native who's written for Allhiphop.com and DJ Kay Slay’s, Straight Stuntin Magazine. He’s been featured in L.A. Times, Miami New Times, Miami Herald, Thump/Vice/Noisey.com, Forward, Spin Magazine, DaveyD.com, DJ Kay Slay's Streetsweeper Sirius XM Radio Show, The Opperman Report, Star Chamber, Sa NeterTV, CBS's, "West 57th Street" (1988), The Biography Channel's, "I Survived a Cult" (2010), The Biography Channel's, "Escaping Evil: My Life in a Cult" (2013) and 2018's, ID (Investigation Discovery) Channel in conjunction with People Magazine "Cults," on Oxygen Channel's, "Uncovered: The Cult of Yahweh Ben Yahweh" and in a special edition of People Magazine on cults. In 2019 Amani also has interviews at InTouchWeekly, Foxnews.com and Newsweek.com. Amani is the author of seven books, including the groundbreaking “Hip-Hop Homophobes...” (iuniverse.com ’07). Khalil was the first media person to write about the allegations surrounding Afrika Bambaataa allegedly getting stabbed for date-raping a young man in 2013 and is in the upcoming documentary on the Afrika Bambaataa allegations, Trapped in a Culture. Amani majored in English and Black Studies at San Diego Mesa College and the University of Nebraska. Follow on IG @khalil_amani, Facebook, Twitter @khalilamani. Email @firstname.lastname@example.org