If you ask the federal prison system, Mike is an inmate serving life at a California prison. But if you ask those who came across his books, then Mike is an influential writer/talented businessman who proves that prison can’t prevent someone from accomplishing great things.
Mike grew up in Sacramento, and like most kids from his hood, he dreamed of becoming a rapper. But the Street Life seemed more alluring than his rap dreams, so he put them on the back burner. Then, in 1998, when he was 19, Mike caught a murder charge. Four years later, he was sentenced to “L-WOP” — life without the possibility of parole.
He was 23 when a judge told him he’d live the rest of his natural life behind bars. That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially for a 23-year-old. Despite this, Mike “decided to try and be a rapper anyway.” He did more than try. He went pretty damn hard, actually. He came upon a contraband voice-recorder, recorded a ton of lyrics, and smuggled them out to a producer-friend who was charged with laying them over beats. But after four years of recording/smuggling lyrics, Mike realized becoming a successful incarcerated rapper was anything but possible.
So…he hung up the contraband recorder.
Then, in 2010, Mike was sent to the hole. How he got there isn’t important. What is important is what he realized while in the cramped confinement. And what did he realize? That his sentence meant he may never make it out of prison. Don’t get it twisted: Mike knew exactly what L-WOP stood for when the judge handed him the sentence. It just took time in the hole for him to understand it in a visceral way.
Naturally, Mike was overcome with a heavy sense of desperation. He used that desperation to plot out his next move, one that he hoped would redefine his sentence. That move was launching a publishing company called The Cell Block.
The idea for The Cell Block had been lurking in the back of Mike’s mind since 2013, when he started realizing his rap dreams may not pan out. The company, at least in theory, was supposed to operate like a record label, where the authors would be “the rappers” and their books would be “the songs.” If you’re wondering how much Mike knew about running a publishing company, wonder no more: The answer was nada, zilch, zero.
But that’s not the point of this story. The point is: Mike found a new goal — a calling if you will — one he hoped would help extrapolate meaning from his sentence. So he promised himself once he got out the hole he would do everything in his being to make The Cell Block a success — or die trying.
And that’s exactly what he did.
The second he was released back to gen pop, Mike went hard building the foundation upon which The Cell Block would launch. Over several years, he taught himself how to write, and read everything he could about the publishing game. And when he wasn’t memorizing grammar rules or publishing industry jargon, he studied the street lit legends who paved the way before him, like Wahida Clark, Seth Ferranti, and writing duo Ashley and JaQuavis.
Then, finally, in 2014, Mike officially launched The Cell Block. He released four titles that year: two fiction books, and two non-fiction works written specifically for inmates (The BEST Resource Directory for Prisoners and The Art & Power of Letter Writing). He thought his company was going to blow up straight out the gate.
That didn’t happen.
Like every other product on the planet, books had to be marketed, promoted, advertised. Unfortunately, the company generated just enough sales for Mike to realize he couldn’t afford to advertise with the big street mags of the time. But he could afford to place a small ad in a small prison magazine.
So he did. He placed the smallest ad in the history of advertising in Prison Legal News (PLN) and … it generated sales. He took a portion of the new revenue and placed another ad in PLN; it generated more sales. Like a true hustler, Mike repeated what worked. And after four years, The Cell Block was generating so much cash Mike could finally afford to advertise with the big street mags like Straight Stunin and Kite. He could also afford to offer publishing deals to some of the hottest incarcerated authors in the street lit genre.
Today, The Cell Block is a certified success. The company regularly releases at least a dozen titles a year, and all of them bang in prisons from LA to NY. Remember the street lit legends Mike studied before embarking on his journey? They are now mentors who support Mike’s movement 100%.
Yet with all this success, Mike feels like he’s only scratched the surface of what’s possible. In fact, he thinks The Cell Block’s “next phase” will surpass everything the company’s achieved thus far. Which brings me to my first question…
Who is Mike Enemigo?
He is proof the system can imprison the body, but it can’t trap the soul.
To learn more about Mike, follow him on Instagram at @thecellblockofficial
To learn more about Mike’s company’s offerings visit WWW.THECELLBLOCK.NET.