by Minister of Information JR Valrey, SF Bay View Oakland Bureau
The Eastbay Dragons Motorcycle Club was the first Black Harley Davidson motorcycle club in the country, and it was started in my grandparents’ house by my uncle Hook and the longtime president, Toby Gene Levingston, in what is now known as Deep East Oakland in 1959. With the headquarters located right off of the historic East 14th aka International Boulevard, the loud bikes and the colorful personalities who own them have given pride and inspired ghetto dwellers in Oakland and the Bay Area for over half a century.
Oakland rap legend V. White, one half of the Delinquents, grew up blocks from the Eastbay Dragon headquarters, and also grew up in an era, years later, where a number of his peers started their own motorcycle clubs. The Delinquents rap group is known regionally in the streets from the Bay Area to Kansas City as one of the best groups to rhyme on a mic, but recently V. chose a different arena to profile his penmanship.
“Body Baggers” is the new fictional book about a Black Harley Davidson bike set, authored by Vidal Prevost aka V. White, available through Amazon. I wanted to talk to V. about his new book, and the transitioning of his pen from a rapper to an author, as well as his thoughts on being a single father. Check him out in his own words.
JR Valrey: What is the name of your book? Is it all fiction? Why or why not?
Vidal Prevost: The book is called “Body Baggers.” It’s a fictional book. But you asked if it was all fiction – I’ve grown up in Oakland, California, my whole life around the bike set. I may have ideas or some of the characters resemble folks I know, but yes, it’s definitely fiction.
JR Valrey: After decades of being a legendary street lyricist, what made you put your pen to work as an author on a book?
Vidal Prevost: I believe being an artist, in general, is being a creator. Being a rapper is a bunch of fiction and non-fiction lyrics laid over a beat. It’s the same. I wrote it instead of rapping it.
My greatest influence to write a book was my lady, my son’s mom. I had the idea, and she pushed me to make it come to life. She herself had written a book on cheerleading and was familiar with the process. If it wouldn’t have been for her motivation and intellect, it probably wouldn’t have happened.
JR Valrey: What was your writing process like? Did you write daily at a certain time?
Vidal Prevost: Believe it or not, I started this book in 2014. It was no particular process in writing it. I’d start and stop, a couple months will go by, and I’d get back motivated. So for the last couple years we’d worked hard at it and finally finished. After rewriting and editing several times, we were happy with the outcome.
JR Valrey: How has being a father affected your goals in life?
Vidal Prevost: Fatherhood is my No. 1 priority. My son’s mom passed in 2020 and it really put things in perspective. Although I have a daughter as well, it’s different raising a kid with one parent. I’m all he has, and he was only 10 years old when she passed. So now life has a different purpose for me and I’m embracing it head on.
JR Valrey: With bike and car culture being so big in California as a whole, what does your book bring to the culture?
Vidal Prevost: My book brings to life not only the culture but the unspoken fact that it’s loosely based on an African American Harley-Davidsons-only bike club. Not to mention the first of its sort in American history. Actually, a lot of bike clubs that exist in Oakland started out being car clubs back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. So I guess you can say I was born into the culture.
JR Valrey: How did you put your book out? Did you do it independently?
Vidal Prevost: I’m a self-published author, and yes I’m independent, and it’s available on Amazon.com in digital and physical form. The audio book is under way now and will be available in early 2022. Also, it will be a different format for an audio book. It’s more of a theater of the mind type of listening, as if you’re listening to a movie; also, the audio book will be read by Casual of the rap group Hieroglyphics.
JR Valrey: Can we expect more books from you?
Vidal Prevost: It was a great experience and I think you can hang your hat on I’ll be creating more stories.
JR Valrey: What do you want people to learn from you accomplishing this feat?
Vidal Prevost: To be honest, I’m not a teacher or educator so people learning wasn’t my goal. My goal was to share art and create a paperback that would hold the reader’s attention and let them live inside the mind of a boy who turned into a man witnessing this esoteric lifestyle that I was fascinated with as a youth.
JR Valrey: How could people get your book online? Do you have any appearances or readings with the book in-person any time soon?
Vidal Prevost: The book is available on Amazon.com digitally and physically. The audio version is coming soon on Audible. In early 2022, there will be a book signing. I’m not positive on the location, but I’ll keep you posted.
JR Valrey, journalist, author, filmmaker and founder of Black New World Media, heads the SF Bay View’s Oakland Bureau. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook. Visit www.BlackNewWorldMedia.com to read more.