Brooklyn rapper Bobby Shmurda at the 71st Precinct in Brooklyn on Wednesday, December 17, 2014
On the morning of Saturday, Feb. 7, viral rap star Bobby Shmurda called Billboard from Manhattan Detention Complex, where he’s been held since Dec. 17, after the NYPD raided Quad Recording studios in Times Square and arrested the 20-year-old along with about a dozen others.
Prosecutors have characterized Shmurda as a “driving force” in the East Flatbush-based gang and record label GS9, charging him with multiple counts of conspiracy, weapons possession, reckless endangerment, and criminal use of drug paraphernalia. For the most serious of his conspiracy charges, Shmurda could face up to 25 years in prison.
Over the phone, in a recorded 10-minute phone call, the charismatic rapper talked about the charges against him (“Bullshit”), feeling abandoned by his record label Epic, and the first thing he’ll do when he gets out (“Write some platinum songs.”) The full transcript of Shmurda’s conversation with Billboard is below.
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How is it in there?
It’s survival, survival. Survival of the fittest.
Has it been hard on you?
Not that hard. I get a lot of love in here.
People in there know who you are, and know “Hot Boy”?
Yeah, everybody. Every time I walk the halls, I see people and they yell out “Ah Ah!” or something.
That’s good. I talked to your mom a lot and it sounds like she’s working hard to get you out on bail. Are you hopeful about that?
Uhhh… We’re trying, but right now I think the DA and the judge and everyone in the court is being biased. It’s so crazy. The favoritism, yeah. They don’t have no evidence, no nothing on me for the bill to be so high. I haven’t been out [as an artist] for a year, I haven’t been around for a year. So I didn’t make $2 million! [Laughs.] They gave me a bill they know I can’t pay. We can pay the 10 percent. And we tried to pay the 10 percent and they told us collateral. And every time we go for bail it’s something new.
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What do you say about the charges — that you are a mastermind of GS9?
Bullshit. I’m gonna say shit like that.
You can say that.
That shit is bullshit.
Why do you think they’re saying that?
I come from a bad neighborhood. They’re mad — they’re upset that somebody my age made it out and is making so much money and stuff like that.
Do you feel like music has been taking you out of the neighborhood? Do you feel like it’s a ticket out of this other life?
Yeah, it is. A big ticket. I’m not gonna stop.
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Do you have a message for your fans?
Yeah. Keep your head up. Everybody goes through tough times and good times. You know what, tough times don’t last forever. I say, “God makes his toughest battles for his strongest soldiers.”
I haven’t heard that before, that’s nice. I was in the courtroom the other day and some other members of GS9 were swaggering into the room. They were smiling. But you looked really serious. What were you thinking in that moment?
When I see the judge and the DA, I just see a bunch of people trying to take my life away for being blessed. That’s what I look at when I look at them. It looks like a bunch of haters, when I see the DA and stuff, taking my life away for being blessed.
What changed when you got famous, and what stayed the same?
The cops always trying to lock me up. That’s why I don’t come to New York like that. I love my home state. I love New York. I love the people of New York. But it’s just the laws and stuff. They’re trying to lock me up for every little thing. Every little thing. For walking across the street with no ID, they’ll try to lock me up. Just to bring me to the precinct, they’ll lie to me, like, “Yo, sign a couple autographs for my kids and I’ll let you go.”
Yeah! I’ll sign 20 autographs and they’ll still send me to the booking. Every time they have me, they just want to hold me longer to show their partners and the others, “Yo, I locked him up! I locked him up!” So they are kind of biased. It’s crazy.
What does GS9 mean to you? Your mom was saying these are kids you’ve grown up with and known for a long time.
GS9 is our record label: God’s Selected Few. God’s Sons. We felt like we were extremely blessed, so we’re called God’s Sons.
When did you come up with the name?
About two years ago, when we started rapping. Yeah.
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There’s been mixed statements about how much of what you rap about is true. Do you have an answer to that?
Nah. It’s fabric. I just want to be like 50 Cent. Or Jay Z. It’s fabric. I just want to be like 50 Cent. [Laughs.] I want to be like Biggie, Tupac. Fabric rap. Fiction rap.
Where did you move to when you started getting famous?
I moved out when I was going to clubs. The cops started shutting down my shows, shutting down my shows for no reason.
What was your new neighborhood like?
Um, I lived around a bunch of Koreans. [Laughs.]
[Laughs.] So it was quieter?
There was never no trouble. Yeah, it was quiet.
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How do you feel about the other people who are your co-defendants? Have you been in touch with them at all?
Some of them I don’t know. Some of them I do know. It’s crazy. They just started picking anybody out of the neighborhood. Some of them I don’t even know. [Laughs.] They got me locked up with — I don’t know, probably like six people here. I don’t even know everybody. It’s crazy.
Is Epic standing by you? There was some talk at the arraignment that they were going to bail you out.
No, no. They’re not bailing me out. They’re not standing by me that much. Every time I call them, there’s excuses about [parent company] Sony, this and that. So, nah. It’s more people on the streets that’s standing by me more than them. I haven’t gotten a visit from one of them yet. Nah.
Besides your mother, who have you been in touch with?
I talked to Meek [Mill]. I talked to French [Montana]. I talked to people while I’m in here. I talked to Migos. While I’m in here. I’m still in contact with people. I stay in contact with people.
I’m talking to Uncle Murda on Monday.
Yeah. Shout out to Uncle Murda, man. Shout out to Meek Mill. Shout out to everybody showing love. French. Everybody.
Your friends have said you and your mom are super close. Can you talk about how she’s been holding up the past few months?
My moms? She’s stressing, but she’s staying strong right now for us, because both her kids and her baby father locked up. So you know, she out there on her own, by herself. She’s staying strong, though.
I know you have to go soon. But what are you planning to do when you get out? Do you have plans?
Write some platinum songs. [Laughs.] Finish up this deal I got with Epic so they’ll get off my back. I’m starting to feel like a slave now.
You want to finish up what you have to give them and then…
Yeah. At first I thought it was love. Now everything is all business.
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It sounds like you’re disappointed they haven’t done more.
I was. I just stopped looking towards them.
You had one of the craziest years — super high-highs, and this super low in December.
Yeah, it started off good last year and it ended up ass! So hopefully it started off bad this year and end off outrageous and good the end of this year.
That’s great. And what was sort of the best moment? Your mom was saying maybe it was the BET Awards. Other people have said they thought it was [Late Night Starring Jimmy] Fallon. Was there a moment where you just felt like that was the best moment of your life?
Oh, everything felt like the best moment of my life. Every day. Every show. Meeting people. Everything.
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I was at [an East Flatbush] barbershop and everybody got their phones and showed pictures of you with their kids, smiling.
Yeah. I love kids, man! They love me and I love the kids.
That’s nice. It seems like your neighborhood is really family. Or a lot of people, your label — GS9.
I would say half my neighborhood. Like, they just, I would say, they hating. They just hating. Half the people in my neighborhood love me. Half the people are just hating. It’s crazy.
We’re running out of time, but anything else about what it’s like in jail? There are so many rumors, right, like that you got stabbed.
A lot of people always stressed out, man. It’s nothing but rumors, man. I’m good. Everybody knows I’m good. I’m chilling. We over here — we over here thugging it out, man. [Laughs.] We over here thugging it out. But it’s a lot of people stressing, man. A lot of people you see with unfair bids — [CALL CUTS OFF].
This story originally appeared in the Feb. 21 issue of Billboard.