About Johnel Langerston

A unique and provocative rags to riches, destructive to preservative life story: college boy turned, homeless man turned, drug lord turned, penitentiary inmate, today stands as a philanthropies, urban guru and entrepreneur of a multi-million dollar Urban Marketing & Production Company.

Johnel grew up in the inner city of Oakland, CA and endured many hardships, as is common among inner city children. While a student at Berkeley High School, he was under the tutelage of coach Willie White, who managed to engage his heart with Track & Field, which lead him off the streets and into college.

As the result of a series of family challenges, Johnel became homeless, lived out of his car and ate out of 24-hour grocery stores while “shopping.” However, life was beginning to look up for Johnel. He managed to graduate with an Associate in Arts degree in photography, was accepted to California State University at Northridge with a full athletic scholarship. Only to endure another setback when he suffered a career ending injury. Having never taken his education seriously, he had to face the fact that he was not marketable in the workforce. Therefore, Johnel returned to the streets of Oakland, Ca. for a quick solution. He began selling marijuana, but quickly progressed to pushing crack cocaine, becoming one of Oakland’s notorious history making drug lords at the age of 22. In 1987 he was arrested by the F.B.I., sentenced to 15 years in a federal correctional facility, 10 years of supervised release and a fine of $50,000.

Upon being released, ten years later, Johnel, made a vow to God and himself that he would forever turn away from a life of crime, stop mutilating and begin repairing society. Today, he is fulfilling that vow through “Urban Born,” a non-profit organization that he founded and lounged, engaging students with the thought-provoking slogan, “It’s Easier to Catch on Now Then to Catch Up Later.” Urban Born (501c3) is a 6th, 7th & 8th grade mental straight educational program replacing the “Scared Straight” program from the 1980’s, using today’s urban music, celebrity guest and live hardcore media footage from various urban communities.


Johnel is also the successful founder and owner of Phatefx, Inc., a multi-million dollar urban marketing and production company, which is celebrating 10 years in the industry. A few of his clients are: Virgin, Sony, Universal, Capital, DreamWorks, I.G.A., Koch, Disney, countless independent artists, the SCLC, Rainbow Push, Congressmen Jackson, churches, book authors, stage play writers/producers, film and documentary makers, etc. Johnel’s amazing success and life story has led him to achieve the Los Angeles “Entrepreneur Award,” provided by Rev. Jessie Jackson and the “Rainbow Push” organization.

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