You Already Won:
Author Aron Gadson and
Host Yandy Smith
Author of You Already Won, Aron Gadson grew up in Harlem, New York and became the top Kingpin, drug dealer, in the St. Nicholas Projects. After some time, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Federal Agency began to surveil Gadson with videos and photos building a case on him. This caused Gadson to leave New York City and his family. It wasn’t until he return home, believing he was no longer being surveilled, that he was arrested and spent the next 11 years behind bars.
After his time in prison Gadson was inspired to write a autobiography sharing of his life experiences from childhood to adulthood. His goal was to inspire other Black men to make their fortune is a clean away despite the odds against people of color.
#GirlBoss Yandy Smith hosted the anticipated book release of You Already Won on Tuesday, January 29th, 2019 in Harlem, New York. Gadson and Yandy’s husband Mendeecees Harris are long time best friends, so it came to no surprise that she showed her support.
The event took place at The Cecil, a upscale lounge & piano bar in Harlem. It was clear that this space was chosen for the intimacy that it provided besides the obvious reason of being located in the same neighborhood where Gadson grew up. Huge poster boards of the book cover, title of the book, and photos of the author hung around the dining area. As well as, huge bundles of black balloons placed in each corner. A low light filled the room that brought out the lights that came from the small candles placed on all of the tables. Delicious hors d'oeuvres like empanadas, sliders, and vegetable skewers flowed around the room and sponsored water by Core Water filled the tables as the centerpiece. If that wasn’t enough, a dessert table filled with delicious cupcakes decorated with the cover of the book, miniature wine bottles, lollipops and a cake was available for guests to enjoy .
The venue was perfect and the atmosphere was nothing short of amazing. The crowd enjoyed 90’s style music by a live DJ and enjoyed retro styled visuals in videos Gadson produced to promote himself and the book displayed on the screens around the bar and dining area. In a separate room, guests were able to grab an advance copy of the book and sweatshirts and t-shirts with the title of the book styled in a urban and dope looking font.
Yandy Smith, producer, entrepreneur, and reality tv star on the hit show Love and Hip-Hop New York, graced our presence in a open cut hot pink blazer with silk asian influenced puffed-sleeves with along with some black jeans and hot pink heels to finish off the look. She looked beautiful!
Cameras started flashing and the media press (including Hellotittie of course *wink*) were eager to ask both Smith and Gadson questions. Yandy was well spoken and charismatic! You could tell by her energy she was very proud of her friend. It was heartwarming to see the relationship between Yandy and Aron unfold in-front of us.
Once we started to the interview, the power of the book became transparent. It was not only a book written by Gadson to express his emotions and overcome his trauma of being in prison and away from his daughter, but a way to empower those that are currently going through the prison system or heading towards that path. His book gives guidance and tells its readers, that no matter what happens in your past you can overcome it because You Already Won!
His book can inspire anyone who is goal oriented and determine to fix or change their lives no matter what their circumstance are.
Below you will find the Q&A from the red carpet:
HelloTittie: How did you get involved with this project?
Yandy Smith: “Aron is family. He’s my children’s uncle; he’s their godfather… He’s my husband’s best friend and upon meeting him, he instantly became one of my best friends and an amazing person. He’s inspired me to go forward with my career. He’s inspired me at times when I did not think I belonged in front of the TV, this one was the one that said ‘Go out there and do what you what you do. You got this.’ So I will always be here to support him.”
HT: Why did you focus on visuals so much? It was a great way to promote the book, but what was the reasoning behind that?
Aron Gadson: “I wanted to give people a look at me to know some of the things that I’ve experienced. To kinda get a feel through the visualization as well as just seeing some of the movements and I thought it was a great artistic viewpoint.”
YS: “And it’s a great expansion of the book…it’s like borderline a magazine meets book meets like theatrical play as soon as you open it. I’ve never seen a book like this. I think it is amazing. There are court documents. There is dramatization within the pages…it just looks amazing and it’s so captivating because he has so many different portions of his life just kind of scripted out in the book, so yeah it was pretty dope. Had to do a dope visual to go along with that!”
HT: What is one thing that you want your audience to take away from your book?
AG: “I want them to take away [my] experience, how to solve problems, what having limited resources as well as the odds being against you [feels like]. I want people to know that you don’t have to be in the perfect circumstances to still be a winner, so you already won was aptly named.”
HT: How does your brand compare and contrast with Yandy’s?
AG: “They coincide. I think we think alike; we share a vision we collaborate on so many things, so how could it not? She’s a very tough competitor in the business world. I align myself with people like her. She inspires me.”
YS: “I think that even the title ‘You Already Won’ is something that is kind of a streamlined themes in our lives. There are times when I feel like this is too much. This is too much! And he’s like “you got this! You already did it! You already exceeded what we expected to happen. You already won!” And same thing with him…so I think that is something that pretty much been streamlined throughout our relationship. So, I think our brands definitely coincide when it comes to that. The title is very fitting.”
HT: For both of you guys, how does it feel to know when you’ve won? and how did you know that you’ve won?
YS: “You know what? I think success is something that you’re always striving to do better and to be better, but I wake up blessed, I wake up happy, I wake up content with my life. I wake up content with if there was something that took me off this earth today, I feel like I have left a legacy that I can stand firm behind and say, ‘my children will be proud.’”
AG: “I second that notion, Mendeecees called me just the other night and said ‘I love you man. I’m so proud of you. I’m happy for you.’ I said, ‘thank you man, this is for you.’ This is [also] for my daughter, [who] I want to make proud. If I leave here and she says, ‘Dad I’m proud of you, I won’. That it. That’s the starting point for me. So, everything else is a bonus; I wake up free, I wake up happy, [and] I wake up with opportunity to chase my goals, so the money comes because of you having these liberties so I’m grateful.”
HT: Is there something that you want to tell the little boys that might read this?
AG: “Sure! Start where you are. It [doesn’t] matter how many tools are not in [your] tool bag when you start. There’s more than enough.”
HT: How can young black women and women of color look at this book and also feel like they’re a winner?
AG: “Young black women and my daughter being one, she’s 17 years old, so for those and up I think that when they are faced with challenges and the odds are against you, once again you can take life challenges. If someone is doing something to you directly or indirectly and make lemonade out of lemons. So, there’s are a bunch of tidbits that can help with these kinds of problems.”
HT: And Yandy, you being a black woman, what do you speak to that being that you read this book?
YS: “Absolutely. I think that stories are the same. It doesn’t hold a gender. It doesn’t necessarily hold an age. I do feel like there is a difference in color of the stories. As people of black and brown descent, our struggle is different and I feel this book chronicles someone that has gone through the struggle that so many black people have gone through…I think that, like he said, whatever toolbox you have you must use the tools you have. There are so many that are given all the tools they need, but we must fight, we have to work, we have to cry, we have to bleed for [our] tools. And I think that as black and brown people, we can relate to this book because he wasn’t given the tools.”
YS: “Can I have a book like that?![Jokingly]”
AG: “This is a step in the right direction.”
YS: “I want illustrations…because the last book you helped with, I didn’t have no color. The pages were black and white… You didn’t give me this Aron. I’m not going to hold it against you, but can we do it again? Let’s start a publishing company.”
HT: So, we have it on the record?
AG: “This is on record. This is the beginning steps to that.”
YS: “Okay great! Yawl hold him accountable. How many witnesses do I got in this room? [Laughs]”