Two gang members from rival hoods have joined forces to prove that trapping can be a legitimate come up.
Malachi "Spankihanas" Jenkins, a Crip and culinary school dropout, and Roberto "News" Smith, a Blood, are the masterminds behind Trap Kitchen LA, an underground restaurant in Compton that's been getting a lot of attention lately.
"We needed a lick, we both needed some money," Jenkins told The Huffington Post. The duo talked about returning to hustling, but were determined to earn an honest living instead. Jenkins, who attended culinary school in Las Vegas, said he knew it was time to pair his street smarts with business and opened the kitchen for business in 2013.
"That’s when we put our heads together to create Trap Kitchen."
Jenkins posts the daily menu on Instagram for customers to call or text their orders for either pick up or delivery. The duo serve everything from barbecue and soul food plates to steak and shrimp dinners and, their most popular menu item, "The Deadliest Catch."
The duo and their crew of three serve between 35 to 75 plates daily for two to four hours, depending on the day. Their small kitchen is constantly busy. So busy that Jenkins said police suspected their kitchen was a trap house. Jenkins recalled two customers getting pulled over by the police after buying pineapple bowls.
"As they were pulling off, an unmarked car pulled them over and it happened to be some detectives and they was like ‘yea, we got a tip that they was selling drugs outta that house,’" Jenkins told HuffPost. "Cops checked the bag because they didn’t believe they bought food from Trap Kitchen but they didn’t find anything."
The demand is even high among Hollywood stars. Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, The Game, among others have had Jenkins and Smith's cooking. Recently, Kanye West tried to place an order, but the kitchen was totally sold out of food, Jenkins told HuffPost. They'll also be catering for the cast of "Barbershop 3" this spring.
Not all feedback has been positive for the entrepreneurs, however.
"Some people hate, like ‘aw you ain’t in the hood no more,’" Jenkins said. "Nah, I’m getting money, bro. I don’t got time to be hanging out, sitting around waiting for the police to come pick me up or somebody to come knock me off, then I’ll be dead."
Though Jenkins and Smith come from rival hoods, their entrance into their respective gangs are similar.
Jenkins admitted to succumbing to the allure of money and violence the older guys in his hood showed him. Smith, who grew up in foster care, told HuffPost that the familial bonds were what drew him to the streets.
“I hung in the streets, my homeboys was more like brothers… the older dudes showed me love, showed me how to get money," Smith said. "It was the cool thing to do. Everybody was from somewhere so I chose it, too.”
The two connected their senior year of high school through a mutual friend. They initially bonded over their self-proclaimed ladies man personas and always kept in touch.
The two now call each other brothers and hope to spread a positive message to the youths in South Central Los Angeles. This is why they gave Compton native Larry Williams a job after he finished a two-year prison sentence on an assault charge.
“It’s a good opportunity, coming home from prison you don’t have options to get a job or work or make any money,” Williams told HuffPost. Jenkins said he hopes to be a role model for the young men of Compton.
“We’re just trying to set examples for young men out here," he said. "Try to have your own mind, that’s what we did... I want young people to not be scared to create their own lane, create their own vision and future and make profit off of it."