Rules Crips Have To Follow

Listen cuz, when it comes to Crippin', also known as partaking in the customary activities of Crip gang members, it's not all fun and games ... If constantly patrolling a particular radius of a neighborhood ever seemed like a really good time, anyway. If you want to roll with the homies, you'll have to abide by some rules and regulations, all of which have developed, changed, and expanded since the Crips came to fruition in the early 1970s, per Britannica.

The Crips' beginnings simmered out of the Civil Rights Movement in south central Los Angeles. At the time, young black men were looking for things to do — Eagle Scouts, sports clubs, anything. But segregation, while no longer legally instituted, was still completely present in LA's culture, which left them to organize brotherhoods for themselves in the safety of their own neighborhoods, per "Crips and Bloods: Made in America." As these organized groups began to grow, all while police continued to oppress and arrest black men in these areas for existing at all, Raymond Washington founded the street gang the Baby Avenues. Their name quickly evolved into the Avenue Cribs, which then landed on Crips, per Black Past. But as the group began to enact more rules, rival gangs naturally began to develop, as did the violence instigated between them, according to OG Crip, Melvin Farmer. And thus, the existence of rules in what started as an emblem of solidarity became the hardened, violent nature of the Crips we know today. 

If you wanna Crip, you gotta get put on

The right of passage for most Crips is through the classic ritual of getting jumped by your homies. According to a Vice interview with a member of the Silent Murder Crips, "This is a lifestyle ... We want somebody that's going to be able to stand up for themselves, whether they're with us, or they're by themselves." The late West Coast rapper Nipsey Hussle had to fight his way into the Rollin 60s, one of the original Crip sets that formed in 1976 in Los Angeles, per Vlad TV

Not every initiation is created equal, though, as every set tends to follow their own protocol for bringing in new blood, er — Crips. For Brooklyn's Silent Murder Crips and the Rollin 60s, jumping in a member can take less than 60 seconds, especially when the gang is already familiar and welcoming to the person going through initiation. Since Crips are required to back their brothers up when things get real, a prospect needs to show that they're a fighter and that they have what it takes to take a hit (many, actually) when things really go down.

No homo

While not all Crips lean towards being homophobic, original sets, like those from LA, are not particularly accepting of gay members in the gang. West Coast rappers including Crip Mac and BG Knocc Out have both openly detested gay gang members in interviews when asked about them. Now, this might not be a rule that's across the table for every Crip set, but it's commonly expected that gang members treat one another like brothers, not potential partners. 

From Vanessa R. Panfil's "The Gang's All Queer," older Crip sets tend to keep things pretty hood — aka, unwelcoming to gays who are interested in gang banging due to an uncertainty of their intentions. Gay members also tend to have to repeatedly establish that they're not interested in other members romantically. This type of confusion is something that Crips tend to try to avoid in the first place, on top of maintaining a core of — what some might consider — traditional values. In the words in LA Crip rapper, BG Knocc Out, "The code to gang bangin' is you can't be a f** or a snitch," per Vlad TV.

Snitches do, in fact, get stitches, or worse

Keeping your mouth shut is hands down the most important code of the Crips — and gang life at large, according to "The Gang Manual" by The New York City Police Department. Since life in the hood comes with the daily prospect of death or prison time, having one another's back is more than imperative. So with the stakes as high as they can basically get, defying a fellow Crip's trust comes with steep repercussions. 

This is evident even between opposing gangs. Brooklyn rapper and G-Stone Crip Pop Smoke refused to provide any information to the police about certain Crip or Blood sets while facing a federal indictment after stealing a Rolls Royce for a music video, according to Complex. Even implying that another gang member is snitching could result in death. Nipsey Hussle was allegedly murdered by a fellow Crip, whom he had tried to warn about some rumors he had heard on the block, according to the Associated Press. A witness testified that Hussle calmly told his "cuz" that there were some court documents relaying information about the Rollin' 60s with his name on them, and to be careful. Shortly after, Hussle was shot in a crowd right outside of his clothing store. 

Swag, drip, or sauce up!

Gangsters are undoubtedly their own special group of fashionistas who have influenced pop culture for decades. And when it comes to Crip swag, looking good is certainly a rule across all sets. Styles obviously change for them just like any other culture niche, but caring about one's appearance in the hood keeps you from looking like a "sucka," per "Crips and Bloods: Made in America."

In the 1980s, it was about starching a pair of jeans to the point that they could stand up without anybody in them. In the 1990s, Snoop Dogg's oversized jackets, plaid shirts, and blue bandanas began a wave of trends from his fellow Long Beach Crips to American culture at large, per Mr Porter. Out of the 2000s and as a result of hip hop, gangsters slowly skimmed down the baggy weeds in exchange for form fitting drapes that had previously been associated with gay fashion, according to Rollin' 60s member Nipsey Hussle. Nipsey has also remarked on the growing number of face tattoos in gangs today, which used to be solely reserved for crazy, hardcore gangsters less than a decade ago, per Hot 97. On the flip side, a lot of gang members choose to knock back on Crip-related ink to avoid longer prison sentences that have been put in place for gang members, according to Insider.

'Where you from?' is an obligatory question

Given that Crip life is often based predominantly around geography, the question, "Where you from?" is really a matter of asking someone who they are. Based on the answer, a gang member will know how to handle their interaction with an unfamiliar face in their territory, per DJ Vlad's interview with original Crip member Melvin Farmer — who was a part of the Crips before they even had a name for themselves in the early 1970's. According to Farmer, Raymond Washington, a founder of the Crips, was the guy to establish the physical divide between the growing gangs on the Eastside and Westside of the I-110 and in Compton. At that time, one of the most well known Crip rivalries, the Rollin 60s and Eight Trays, came to fruition, whose territories were only a handful of blocks away from one another.

Today, LA hoods have been whittled down street by street, alley by alley. Gangs in these areas sometimes run less than a few miles of their enclaves, according to the documentary "Crips and Bloods: Made in America." "As we live amongst each other, there might be one street, there might be one gas station that serviced two or three different gangs," a Crip member said. "When I get to the gas station, I have to find out what are your intentions with me while I'm pumping gas ... And when I look you in your eyes, I'm looking to see if you're a wolf."

No slippin'

"Slippin' mean relaxing, being off guard, not on point, not always hostile, hard, ready to do or die, and be the one does instead of the one who dies," said an old school gang member by the name of Kumasi, per "Crips and Bloods: Made in America." Various Crips talk about having to relinquish their feelings to succeed in the gang world. The feelings they do find acceptable are only those directly related to violence, because kicking back, even on their own block in the middle of the day, could get them killed.

According to a member of the East Coast Gunner Crips, processing the tens of shootings that happen on a daily basis in his hood is basically a can of worms he couldn't process even if it was opened, per National Geographic's "Inside LA Gang Wars." From losing younger siblings who were walking to school at six in the morning, to witnessing homies being killed at a funeral for another member, the expectations for ceasefire are, imperatively, very low, per "Crips and Bloods: Made in America."

In the hood, stay strapped

"Kill or be killed" is basically the motto of the Crip code. Therefore, if a cuz wants to survive when they leave the house, a gun is an excellent source of insurance. This quickly becomes a way of life, and many Crips start carrying guns by puberty — a Crip custom since the 1970's, per Vlad TV. But in the early days, guns were used more like props to help kids steal cars and leather jackets, not to actually hurt people. Originally, Crips and their rivals would settle disputes with a good old round of fisticuffs, but that became a way of the past in the 1990s, per "Crips and Bloods: Made in America."

Consequently, murders began to skyrocket in LA's hoods. When bloodshed became an aspect of everyday life by just walking up and down a street, so did walking around with AK-47's and Mac 10's, per "Crips and Bloods: Made in America." "When you go on a mission ... You're gonna to pass up the dude who's dressed square, right? You're gonna pass up a dude from a different race, when you see somebody who's dressed like you dressed, and got the walk like you got, and got the body language like you, you're going to say, 'There you go, get him,'" rapper and Rollin' 60s Crip Nipsey Hussle said in a Hot 97 interview. Not walking around strapped in your territory, or at the very least with someone else who is, is pretty much like walking around in your underwear for Crips.

C-life for life

Crips, no matter the set, tend to follow the same trajectory. The Crip's Code of Honor as listed by New York City Police includes "C-life from the Cradle to the Casket Cuzz!" which, in actuality, isn't really a commandment, but more of a premonition. In the hood, the only options gang members often tend to perceive are selling drugs, theft, jail, or all of the above, per "Crips and Bloods: Made in America." Even Crips who have long moved on from hustling still have a deep-seeded loyalty to the gang, no matter their level of fame and success: NBA player DeMar DeRozan, rapper Snoop Dogg, and many more.

For those who want to escape the cyclical pattern of gang banging, they have to physically leave the area to really move their lives in a different direction. But for Crips who get started at a young age, many never leave their immediate territories or even cultivate the aspiration of leaving in the first place. For example, many young members residing in the heart of traditional Crip hoods have never even seen the Pacific Ocean, or even the blocks beyond their set's boundaries, per "Crips and Bloods: Made in America."

Colors matter, kind of

It's pretty well-known that Crips predominantly use blue to represent themselves. Older gang codes like those from the NYPD Gang Manual speak of a time where certain colors were completely off-limits, and wearing those colors could result in pretty steep repercussions. Back in the early days, Crips actually identified themselves with cross earrings, according to Farmer. But now, with longer prison sentences for having gang affiliations, and the fact that technology has made it increasingly difficult to get away with violent crimes, Crips prefer not to be easily identifiable by police, according to Insider.

According to Bricc Baby Shitro, West Coast rapper and member of the North Side Bricc Boy Crips, members are welcome to wear whatever they want, be it red shoes or other gear that people would associate with Bloods and other opposing gangs. Wearing blue rags head to toe could actually put someone at a disadvantage since rivals won't even need to approach you to know who you're associated with, Shitro said. 

This isn't to say that these rules no longer carry a certain nuance to it, but things are more subtle now. Crips might carry bandanas in their pockets while they're sagging but reserve gang regalia for funerals and other gatherings, according to the FBI's 2013 National Gang report (via Insider).

'Only on the left side, yeah that's the Crip side'

According to the NYPD Gang Manual, Code 12 instructs Crips to flag one another from the left side as a way to easily identify fellow members. Folks might already be familiar with this rule from Snoop Dogg spitting it his 2004 hit with Pharrell Williams, "Drop it Like it's Hot." On an episode from Snoop Dogg TV, Williams reminiscences with Snoop about making the song, and he made mention about the song's overall licks being heavily influenced by how "there was like 40 Crips in there, dark blued out ... and these guys are just standing around." To which Snoop finished, "Waiting on a mother****** record!"

On top of this rule from NYPD's Gang Manual, Crips are instructed never to let someone take their flag from them, which will certainly not result in a friendly game of capture the flag to follow. Interestedly, the Manual also covers Bloods flagging protocols, which instructs their members to do so on the right side. As for the origin of why one side was chosen over the other for Crips, or which gang chose a side first, the story isn't quite clear. 

Learn your codes

Some Crips use various codes to communicate, while others don't necessarily follow the old school protocol anymore. Back in the early days of Crippin', members created their own alphabet, even to the extent that they avoid certain letters together such as "ck," as it was often referenced as "Crip Killa" by Bloods, per the NYPD Gang Manual. Another symbolic trait of Crip language is to cross out certain letters, particularly B's for Bloods, or other letters that gang names begin with.

However, in the hood, this practice isn't intended to be used arbitrarily; Crips are instructed only to cross out other gangs' letters if there's a legitimate reason to — not just because they exist at all, according to a Splif D TV video of a new Crip's antagonizing tag job off Slauson Avenue, an extremely busy street in the heart of multiple LA gang territories. Other uses of Crip code are sometimes seen in letters from gang members in prison writing to homies on the outside, according to Nautilus.

A drive-by for a drive-by

Respect — or fear, rather — reigns supreme for gang survival, per NYPD's Gang Manual. The source of a lot of gang violence, or the creation of rival gangs in general, is often instigated by revenge. The Piru Bloods were born out of the need for protection against the growing Crip gangs in the area, as with various other gangs that came to fruition in LA over time, according to the Bloods Street Gang Intelligence Report.

Any time a rival gang commits an act of violence, tags a territory, and so on, Crips are required to retaliate with similar punishment to fit the crime, according to "Crips and Bloods: Made in America." So if a homie gets jumped by a gang, Crips will go on the hunt for either the people responsible, or find someone they know who is associated with that set. If one gang lights up a Crip block on a drive-by, they can pretty much expect that theirs is going to promptly see some flying bullets in the very near future. And in some instances, it's not always other gang members that will suffer the brunt of retaliation — family members and innocent bystanders could be a target for gangs out on the hunt, per LA Gang Wars.