There are a lot of different stories out of Miami. Currently, the Heat are celebrating their second consecutive NBA championship in bright and sunny South Beach. The courtside area was packed with some of your favorite rappers and entertainers, and some of them were even getting into skirmishes with players. However, leave that arena, cross that bridge to exit South Beach, and you may find yourself in a Miami more similar to the one pictured in the documentary Cocaine Cowboys. It’s from that environment a lot of the sounds of Miami have grown.
Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group imprint has grown from himself and Triple C’s, to one of the most respected brands in Hip Hop with a diverse group of artists. One of the constants of Maybach has been Gunplay. Gunplay has gone from an oft asked about hype man, to a star in his own right, with his own imprint behind him, Bilderberg Group. Back before dropping Acquitted and tearing down SOBs, Gunplay took some time out of his busy schedule to chop it up with HipHopDX about loyalty, lyricism, and Miami amongst other things.
Gunplay On The Response To “Bible On The Dash”
HipHopDX: You got the joint “Bible On The Dash” buzzing right now, that was on 601 & Snort, and Rozay’s Black Bar Mitzvah, is that going to be the first single off your Def Jam project?
Gunplay: Depending on how it goes, it might be. I’m gonna let the streets decide. It was on my mixtape in July, and Black Bar Mitzvah, then that situation happened [the arrest], that stifled me a little bit. But it was kind of like a blessing in disguise, because I didn’t do nothing with the record. I didn’t do an e-mail blast, shoot a video, nothing but put it on a mixtape. Everywhere I was going, people were like “Bible On The Dash,” “Bible On the Dash”….and they kept saying it. Damn near everybody…I did a survey, I’m like, “I’m gonna do it in my head, the next mothafucka that holler at me, if they say ‘Bible On The Dash,’ my nigga, I know it’s official and I’m gonna go ahead and run with it.” After the case is done, I’m gonna run with that song right there. Through all the bullshit I was going through, I’m seeing on Twitter “Bible On The Dash.” I’m like alright, the second I get over this hump, I’m gonna shoot the video, I’m just gonna take a stab in the dark and try to get it on MTV, and see how it goes. God has been good...gave me the whole opportunity.
DX: Every time I listen to that song, I pick up on another cold line. Do you feel like you get enough credit for your lyrics, and does that matter to you? Do you have a favorite verse?
Gunplay: My favorite verse would be the “Power Circle” verse. They say I’m a lyricist, that’s cool, ‘cause I feel like I’m not wasting all this time staying up late trying to fine tune, tweak, and go over the shit 500 times, just out of my brain being programmed to do so, to perfect my craft. For all these years, to see everything wasn’t in vain, and to see that mothafuckas actually listen to that—for them to put me in a lyricist’s category—it’s humbling, because the greats were lyricists. So being that the pioneers were lyricists, to be in that category feels good. I don’t really get too excited about shit, I’m staying humble, so I don’t really get too excited about shit; I just keep it going.
DX: When people think of the South as far as Hip Hop, they think of Atlanta and Houston. I stayed out in Florida for a year, and it’s a different place. What was your introduction to Hip Hop, and who were your early influences?
Gunplay: My early influences were UGK, Trick Daddy, Spice 1, Ice Cube…everybody. I listened to everything back in the day, Jay-Z, Nas, and mostly stuff that’s old school now. Shit I grew up on that Illmatic, Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., Wu-Tang…all that. I really don’t have a specific artist, I listened to everything.
Gunplay Explains His Bilderberg Brand & Being Embraced By New York
DX: Is rapping something that you always wanted to do as a career, or is it something you did, and due to your connection to Ross, you decided to pursue it?
Gunplay: It’s kinda both. I always wanted to…you always have a dream, but it’s a select few that make it to the top. I just pray for the best, and prepare for the worst the whole time.
DX: You’ve been down with Maybach from the start—you’ve seen it grow—and you still play a major role. You started off guesting on “Power Circle.” How does it feel to be down from the start, stay down, and then see the results on such a large scale?
Gunplay: It feels surreal…it feels surreal. Also, it feels like a lot of responsibility based on having that much power and success.
DX: At the same time, while you are down with Maybach, you have your own crew, the Bilderberg Group. Explain why you went with that name for those that don’t know, and everything that you have going on with that
Gunplay: I just did my research on the Bilderberg Group. I like the way they roll; they not flashy. Let them tell it, they don’t even fuckin’ exist. I like the way they roll. Basically I’m gonna incorporate that with my company, Bilderberg Group. Instead of Bilderberg Music Group, it’s just Bilderberg Group. It’s everything. Entertainment…it’s more than just music, of course music is the forefront, the foundation of it…but the mission of my company is to provide services and own different things under Bilderberg group.
DX: I see you’ve got a clothing line going with that?
Gunplay: Yeah, that’s just something to get the name and the brand out there. We’re doing it little by little, because nothing happens overnight. It’ll start with a t-shirt, and end up with a warehouse or a department store. We start with little hoodies, shirts, tank tops…bbgapparel.com. We gonna have something for the hoes too; hoes gotta dress too.
DX: On June 11 you dropped the Acquitted mixtape. Aside from the obvious, what was the motivation behind that, and what’s your goal for listeners?
Gunplay: This one is gonna be full-fledged, dope ass shit. I’m introducing the first artist on Bilderberg; Peryon. I brought him in on ground level. He’s from New Orleans; he has a hell of a story. On that mic, he just has a different style. He definitely makes good music. I got Triple C’s on there and a few other surprises. There’s only nine joints on Aquitted, but it’s solid. I’m not gonna say too much, I’m gonna surprise y’all.
DX: You also headlined your first show in NYC. How did that feel—being from Miami—never being anyone other than who you are, and being able to headline a show out in NYC?
Gunplay: It was overwhelming…not overwhelming, but it’s great. Doing this, never really seeing the return, just doing it from the heart, then seeing mothafuckas really know who a nigga is. They want to put a nigga on a headline at SOBs, the legendary SOBs? I’m honored.
Why Gunplay Calls Def Jam “The Right Situation”
DX: You’re also working on the album, is your approach to the mixtapes different than your approach to the album?
Gunplay: Most definitely. When it comes to anything I do that I really want to be the best at, I tend to overthink things. I over analyze shit when it was perfectly fine. So when it comes to my album, I’m gonna overthink shit, I already know. With a mixtape, I just do that shit, go in there, and rap that shit. I want to make sure this is perfect. I’m not gonna rush it. I don’t care who rush me or what the situation is. I’m not gonna rush it, ‘cause you only get one shot. There’s no doubling back on that.
DX: Do you think mixtapes are becoming almost as important as albums, seeing as how artists are allowed to tour off mixtapes, and record sales as a whole have gone down?
Gunplay: Yeah, most definitely. Mixtapes start careers, and mixtapes make you money if you do it right. A mixtape is just as important as an album. It’s like a prequel to the album. That’s what it should be, like [Rick] Ross, he drops the The Albert Anastasia EP before he drops the Teflon Don.
DX: How did your deal with Def Jam come about?
Gunplay: We’re all solo artists as well a collective. Sooner or later; we knew we’d all have solo deals. I was just grinding, and I didn’t really step to them or nothing like that. I was just grinding, and they made me an offer. I’d like to keep it in house, and I don’t want to label hop unless it’s some foul shit going on. I love Def Jam. I know everybody there. That’s home. It’s only right that my solo situation go through them. They seen me come from a hype man. They seen my capabilities and what I can do.
DX: You get a lot of attention for the stuff you do off the mic, whether it be the video of when you were out in Columbia, the beef or the case you caught. How does the amount of attention people pay to that stuff impact the way they receive the music?
Gunplay: I take it for what it is and keep it moving. I couldn’t care mothafuckin’ less what they know about me or like about me. You like the music? There you go! If you like the controversy, there you go! Either way, as long as my name keeps sliding off their tongue, I’m alright.
DX: As someone who was born in raised in Miami, how do you feel about the newcomers to the city, and the way the city is perceived in contrast to the Miami you grew up in?
Gunplay: It’s a whole new Miami.
Gunplay On The Old Miami & “New School Rebels”
DX: Do you think that’s for better or worse?
Gunplay: The old Miami, I felt like it was more bosses. Back in the day, it wasn’t really that many problems. If I had a problem with someone in Overtown, my big homie from Carol City would go holler at somebody from Overtown, and we’d figure something out. When they went to prison and died, it’s a bunch of little wannabe bosses with no etiquette. They don’t have the successful OGs to look up to; they have the television, and what they see on the YouTube and shit. Now it’s money, power and respect, where it used to be respect, power and then money. It’s a lot of war going on, and it ain’t no hierarchy. It just a whole bunch of motherfuckers on molly ready to cap something. It’s all fucked up now. You still got Maybach Music, and we keeping it trilla. We keep the protocol. We don’t know nothing about that 2013-2014 shit. We ain’t really with all that new shit that’s going on, we gonna keep it Miami ’89—cocaine, steak, and wine.
DX: Does anybody outside of MMG inspire you, and how do you feel about the Rap game as a whole?
Gunplay: Kendrick Lamar. He’s bringing being a lyricist back. Kendrick Lamar…I fuck with A$AP Rocky. I fuck with the new school rebels, and the new school rebels fuck with me. I might be a little bit older, but I still move around, and I’ll put the paws on your ass like them young gits.
DX: People were probably surprised by you appearing on that “Cartoon & Cereal” and then Kendrick was on the “Power Circle,” so it sort of looks like you’re Kendrick’s introduction to MMG. Do you have any other surprise collaborations around the corner like that?
Gunplay: It’s a surprise.