Gunplay feat. Gunplay: The Gunplay Interview
The first time I caught wind of Gunplay was back in 2010. I was at a house party and a drunk friend of mine was raving about the manic Florida rapper with the wild dreaded mane—not for his deft and aggressive rhymes, but for his cavalier approach to snorting cocaine. Because I only vaguely recognized the MC as one of Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group hangers-on, my friend took it upon himself to drag me away from the party and give me a crash course in videos of the light-skinned MC getting knocked the fuck out, snorting heaps of blow in front of cops in Colombia, and generally acting like a some kind of ghetto Steve-O hopped up on coke and wreaking havoc. I was pretty impressed, probably because I have an affinity for maniacs. But what in the world did all of that have to do with rapping?
It wasn’t until this February, almost two years later, that I began to understand Gunplay as an artist rather than a sideshow. It was his closing verse on Kendrick Lamar’s superb track “Cartoon and Cereal” that grabbed me by the neck and pulled me into his world. When I heard him spit the lines, “No cameras, no lights, just pain/ Mama how much trauma can I sustain?” I knew there was more to Gunplay than just wilding out, even though his raucous and frenzied charisma is big part of his appeal.
Gunplay’s combination of craziness and consciousness has made him one of the most engaging figures to emerge in hip-hop. The unabashed junky has continued to up the ante on both fronts, dropping the stellar mixtape 106 & Snort while falling into even more controversy by doing things like brawling with five thugsfrom 50 Cent’s entourage at this fall’s BET Music Awards.
Right now, things are coming to a head for Gunplay. As he readies Medellin—his highly anticipated major-label debut for Def Jam, due out next spring—he also faces serious jail time for a laundry lists of criminal charges. This reality check makes me wonder whether the fire that has helped put him at the precipice of superstardom could also destroy him. Not only would a stint in prison likely derail his ascent to the heights of the hip-hop game, it would also leave his eight-year-old son without a father.
I called the rapper, whose real name is Richard Morales Jr., last week while he was on house arrest in Florida for allegedly attacking and robbing his accountant back in April. We ended up talking a lot about death, because with all the drug abuse and violent incidents, he’s been banging on heaven’s door lately. I really hope he can get himself together, slow down on the white girl, and fulfill his musical potential—even if that means we get fewer funny World Star Hip-Hop videos.
VICE: Hey man. Is everything all right? How’s house arrest?
Gunplay: Yeah, I’m making it do what it do. I’m still working and I’m on that Black Ops 2, perfecting my skills. It’s cool, but I can’t wait to test the turf on the road again.
So, what is it like being Gunplay? Do you feel like you have to act crazy all the time because that is your persona?
Gunplay is really me. What you see is what you get. I’ve got my chill days and I’ve got my turned-up days. But I’m mostly chill. You all just catch me when I’m wilding out.
So, the way you acted at Six Flags is how you are around your son?
Well, you have to separate Gunplay from Richard Morales. That’s what I’ve been doing, lately. Trying to separate my music from my real life. You can get caught up in character.
How did having a son impact the way you look at the world?
Once you know you’ve got a mouth to feed and someone to take care of who is depending on you, you go a little harder to try and get the money. Sometimes you do the wrong things to get it. I’ve been trying to balance my career, get the money, and not go to jail in the meantime.