Interview: Gunplay Speaks On Drugs, Swastikas, and His Deal With Def Jam

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For the most part, hip-hop has traditionally been a young man’s game. Both the “young” and the “man” part of that statement is halfway out the window. As the veterans get older, they’ve provided proof that rapping isn’t just for the kids.

At 30 years old, MMG veteran Gunplay is emerging as an unlikely up-and-comer, thanks in part to his gut-wrenching guest verse on Kendrick Lamar’s “Cartoon & Cereal.” It may have seemed like a fluke to some, but then “Power Circle” happened and he killed it again, this time with a very different approach including but not limited to one amazing sea bass reference.

So here we are, inching our way through the second half of 2012, and the wild MMG guy with the swastika tattoo just landed a deal with Def Jam and is rising with a quickness. Not many would have predicted this two years ago, but Gunplay doesn’t seem surprised. It’s been a long time coming.

Interview by Mustafa Abubaker

What’s going on man? What have the past several days been like since you signed the deal with Def Jam?
Work, work. Now I feel like the clock’s ticking, know what I’m saying? Got to hurry up and get these records done and make sure I present the best product possible. Once I feel comfortable with it then I’ll let it go. So I’m trying to knock out three records a day and out of those three, I’ll only pick one that I want to put on the album. The rest iss gonna be for the next tapes and shit.

A lot of people don’t know you’ve been rocking with Ross from the start. What are some specific memories you can re-call from those days that might have given some insight to where MMG is today?
It’s just the way we was working. The way we was hustling every single day, trying to make it happen. You work this hard for a long time, you’re going to get somewhere. And people don’t realize, they think everything comes overnight. So we’ve been grinding it out for a long time and once we were really, really, really grinding and once I was getting tired and really like, “Goddamn, I wanna chill for a minute” and you still got to keep going? That’s when I knew this shit was going to pay off one day. It got to.

Your drug use is talked about maybe more than you would like. But you’re off cocaine now – what difference has it made in your personal life?
It just brought me back to reality. It helped me focus more – on my craft, my business, my relationships with my family, my relationships with my friends. Drugs tend to give you a chemical imbalance in your shit, fuck you up and then you just be snapping on everybody, you don’t really notice it. You think the world’s against you but it’s really the excessive drug use fucking your brain up. It affects a lot of things… so once you quit that, you can see clear. It just feels better. Don’t get it twisted though—when I go back to Medellin, I am going to get tore down again.

Since the Def Jam deal was confirmed, you’ve announced two projects: Bogota the mixtape & Medellin the album. What can we expect from both records? Features, producers? Who would you want to work with now that you have the label behind you?
That’s a good question. I don’t know if the God MC Hov would be on it but I would love for him to be on it. It would really be a classic album. A lot of rappers that I really wanna work with, they’re dead. They’re already dead so I don’t really know. Oh, Big KRIT. I like Big KRIT, I want to work with him. We’ll see. I don’t know, I might wake up in the morning and have somebody I want to make a record with and try to make it happen. I just go with the flow, man.

When you’re in the studio making music, where do you find your inspiration? Any particular influences?
Tupac. Just watching his interviews…his passion for the game, for camaraderie, for loyalty and his passion for success. I’ll just watch a few of those, listen to a little bit of Makaveli, a little bit of All Eyes On Me, a little bit of Thug Life. Once I feel like I had enough, I turn my beat on and I go ahead and do my thing.

I don’t do it to sound like him or nothing like that, I do it because he got a message. His shit was always a message. He was always flossing in his shit but he always had a message in there. He’ll always drop a jewel on you. He’ll be flashy and all that but then he’ll drop a jewel on you, four bars down. I’m just studying all that, watching the blueprint of success with Rozay and building the empire and following the blueprint of some greats.

Ever since you started rolling MMG, what are some things you’ve learned both musically & personally?
It’s a dirty game. It’s a real, filthy, dirty game. It ain’t real. It’s all fake, it’s all for the cameras. The real ones shine, you know what I’m saying, that’s really serious. I just know if you keep it 100, it might take little bit longer for you to get on because everybody around you is minus 100… it’s going to take a little bit of time but when you get there, you don’t be mad, you don’t be sour, you just know you’re in power. None of that fake shit can do nothing to you. Ain’t got to worry about nothing, you can sleep good at night.

Complex Magazine ranked your verse on Cartoon & Cereal the third best guest verse of the year; right behind Nas on Triple Beam Dreams & Drake on Stay Scheming. Why do you think so many people gravitate towards that verse? Do you see yourself working further with Kendrick in the future?
I saw that, that was huge! I’m definitely going to get Kendrick on one of the joints on my album. That was just surprising. Number three? I’m like, oh shit! That’s dope. There were some big names on the list too. So that’s definitely a blessing and you know I count them all the time. Just got to keep working, try to get number one next time. [Check the Complex feature here.]

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