The last time I talked to Gunplay, he seemed a bit out of his mind. Maybe it was the fact that we spent half of our interview talking about how there was a secret world government that controlled everyone and everything. Or maybe it was because when we talked, it was around the time that there were oodles of videos of the MMG-affiliated rapper rapping, clearly coked out of his brain, and I couldn't get the image of Gunplay doing a gator-tail of Colombia's finest out of my brain.
However, things have changed for the man legally known as Richard Morales Jr. In October of last year, the 33 year-old rapper turned himself in to authorities because for assaulting his accountant with a firearm—yes, Gunplay got arrested for gunplay. However striking the irony of the situation might be, there's no reason to laugh. Just as Gunplay's career was looking up in a serious way—he's more popular than he's ever been and he has an album coming out this year on Def Jam—he was placed on house arrest and is preparing to fight for his freedom in court, because he's going to trial pretty much as soon as he gets off house arrest on January 13th. The 13th is an important day musically for Gunplay as well, as it' will see the release of Cops & Robbers, his newest mixtape.
I recently spoke with Gunplay over the phone to discuss his time on house arrest, his upcoming projects, emojis, and spirituality. Oh, and he finally cleared up why he's got a swastika tattooed on his neck. It should be noted that he sounded tired, his demeanor dialed-down to the extreme.
NOISEY: On Twitter a bit back, you said that 2012 was the best and worst year of your life. Want to explain that?
Gunplay: I got a deal this year, and at the same time I'm fighting for my life. I got a case. It's bittersweet, but you take the ups and downs.
Tell me about house arrest.
I've been playing videogames and writing. Just keeping my mind going and not really worrying about my case and stuff like that. Just trying to stay focused.
When it came time to record Cops & Robbers, did you work at home?
Yeah, I recorded it here. The majority of it is records that I leaked, but I've got a couple new joints.
Who did you work with on there?
There's no real new features. I got Yo Gotti on there. I've got a new record with Trina on there that I've had in the vault for a little while. I'm looking forward to that. The hoes gonna love it.
When you were on house arrest, what sort of lifestyle changes did you have to make?
I don't have no traffic at my house. I needed time to just chill out and stay with my thoughts.
Do you feel like you've grown?
Absolutely. You're responsible for your actions. This gave me a reality check.
How do you think your music will reflect this time?
I've got a lot to say, and I've got a lot on my chest. You'll hear the pain and the injustice I've suffered through my music.
Were you allowed to drink at home?
I don't drink or do no drugs. I just played videogames and wrote the music. Not even weed.
Tell me about Medellín, your upcoming album. Why'd you pick that title?
That's a city in Colombia. I went there a few years ago, and that's where the first Gunplay controversy started. I was on camera sniffin' coke. If you haven't heard, that's one of the first controversial things for me. I just wanted to take it back to Colombia. It's a beautiful country. I love the women, and I just wanted to go there again. I titled the album Medellín because it's gonna be that pure coke.
Why did you decide to use an emoji in your Twitter name?
It makes sense, don't it? I don't know. My mind is always creating and trying to do something new. I just saw a spot where I could freestyle something on there, know what I mean? Life is boring, man. You gotta put a twist on some things. You gotta be a trendsetter. I'm a trendsetter. I think different.
Do you consider yourself a spiritual person?
Most definitely. I know there's a higher being. I know there's Karma. I believe in spirits and tapping into those spirits and channeling those spirits and having them help you move things out of the way. They keep you safe.
What do you mean by "spirits?"
Like, things that are in the ether?
Orishas. Gods. Yeah.
Explain to me why you have a swastika tattooed on the back of your neck.
It was originally a symbol of happiness, prosperity love and all that, but people took it and turned it into something evil. And I feel like society sees young black men as the same thing as that symbol. We're born basically clean, but then the world just pumps all this bullshit in our heads and turns us into monsters.
What's the deal with your case?
I should be getting off house arrest if the trial goes good. The case should get dismissed. That's what I'm hoping for and praying for. That's all that's on my mind right now.
Drew Millard sits alone in his four-cornered room staring at Twitter - @drewmillard