Thug Life. You might know it from the tattoo on Tupac’s belly, as the rap group he formed in 1993 or as Tupac’s philosophy. But Thug Life is a lot more.

I didn’t create T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E., I diagnosed it.

Tupac Shakur

In April 1992 (just days before the 1992 Los Angeles riots began), at the “Truce Picnic” in Watts, California, Tupac was instrumental in getting rival members of the Crips and Bloods gangs to sign the “Code Of THUG LIFE”, which details do’s and don’ts for being a righteous thug and banger. It was written by Tupac, together with his stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, and with the help of some Original Gangsters.

Here’s what Tupac had to say about it: I think even gangs can be positive. It just has to be organised. It has to steer away from being self-destructive to being self-productive. I organised the OG’s in the East Coast and the West Coast and the penitentiaries to come up with codes of ethics for criminals. It’s called the “Code of Thug Life”. It’s a code to put order to the violence on the streets. In Watts, Compton, Chicago, wherever. We got all these people all over the country saying “Yes, we go by this code. We gonna be against attacks on people that are not involved with the street gang, with the drug trade, or the illegal business at all.” You know, all that kidnapping and shooting drive-bys out the car, we against that.


Someone must dare put the street life back on track, because it is clear to anybody that can see – that the hustling game has gone stark raving mad.

The short and long range result, will not only be detrimental to the street game, but more importantly, the combination of the self destruction & turf warfare, coupled with the government’s police terrorism, fascist laws designed to capture and keep our Black men and women in prison for the rest of their lives, leaves a defenseless Black community – which will result in our genocide.

For as long as the street game / hustle has existed in our community, which is the result of many factors (and will only be resolved through our liberation), it has been viewed as a necessary tolerance between the legal and illegal economy and culture.

The underground economy has, in many areas, been supportive of the uplifting of the Black community. Although, for a fact, it has been the downfall of individuals, the dynamics of struggle between the do-gooders and the thugs has kept a consistent battle for balance in The Black Community which at least was under our control.

The rules of engagement of the hustle was a code of the thug life. This code was the A, B, C’s of how the street game should and would be played. These rules allowed for money to be made by the crews in the different fields of the game, and determined how disputes between and among the players should be handled.

It also allowed the people who were not in the game to pressure the enemy of our people, and allowed the people who would work in the interest of our people (education, health, housing, legal, etc.) to feel that the effort was worth it.

The game today, as it exists, is a complete violation of the code. Historically, the street hustler was hip to the enemy and would never work in the government’s interest to destroy their own people.

The thug life is a tool of the enemy as it exists today; it must change. The interests of outside forces are being served by the hustlers, because the crew has no dignity or honor – and this must be corrected. A council must be called to put a code to the thug life.

We accept that the game will go on until our liberation. What we won’t accept is that the game will destroy us from within before we get another chance to rumble and rebuild. We will not allow ourselves to be played by the covert operations, COINTELPRO, and low intensity warfare waged by the United States government.

A code must be established. As we look at the West coast, the majority of the life is controlled by gangs (Latin/Chican and of the Black community as well). The gangs are the force behind the underground economy in our hoods.

In the mid-East, the common denominator there is also the gangs, which are responsible for the street life. Politically, culturally, and economically, these forces attempt to put the game back on track and work in the interests of the community and to resist the strategy of the government. They have begun setting down a platform for the street game in full effect – we praise this effort.

The code of the thug life must become a part of East coast street life as well. There must be a common denominator.

The original gangsters behind the walls of the dungeon will take some responsibility to putting force to the council and the code.

We must act now. The Code of the Thug Life will save us to fight another day. If we don’t, then we will lose…

While other forces attempt to bring peace and unity to the gangs and crews of the street life…Although we re down with that, and shout out to those attempts, we have always tried to be real with the people. Some folks may oppose what we say and do.

What we’re putting out here is a code to the true dwellers in the thug life. We don’t see this as an end of the game, or the street game as a real end. What we need is liberation. But what we do see if the bringing of some honor to being true to the life – and being real to our family which is a giant step to being down with the true thug life.

Code of Thug Life

  1. All new Jacks to the game must know:
    1. He’s going to get rich.
    2. He’s going to jail.
    3. He’s going to die.
  2. Crew Leaders: You are responsible for legal/financial payment commitments to crew members; your word must be your bond.
  3. One crew’s rat is every crew’s rat. Rats are now like a disease; sooner or later we all get it; and they should too.
  4. Crew leader and posse should select a diplomat, and should work ways to settle disputes. In unity, there is strength!
  5. Car jacking in our Hood is against the Code.
  6. Slinging to children is against the Code.
  7. Having children slinging is against the Code.
  8. No slinging in schools.
  9. Since the rat Nicky Barnes opened his mouth; ratting has become accepted by some. We’re not having it.
  10. Snitches is outta here.
  11. The Boys in Blue don’t run nothing; we do. Control the Hood, and make it safe for squares.
  12. No slinging to pregnant Sisters. That’s baby killing; that’s genocide!
  13. Know your target, who’s the real enemy.
  14. Civilians are not a target and should be spared.
  15. Harm to children will not be forgiven.
  16. Attacking someone’s home where their family is known to reside, must be altered or checked.
  17. Senseless brutality and rape must stop.
  18. Our old folks must not be abused.
  19. Respect our Sisters. Respect our Brothers.
  20. Sisters in the Life must be respected if they respect themselves.
  21. Military disputes concerning business areas within the community must be handled professionally and not on the block.
  22. No shooting at parties.
  23. Concerts and parties are neutral territories; no shooting!
  24. Know the Code; it’s for everyone.
  25. Be a real ruff neck. Be down with the code of the Thug Life.
  26. Protect yourself at all times…