Gunplay is volatile, likeable and mildly insane. He’s also a hell of a rapper. Among his polished MMG label mates, Gunplay is the half Puerto Rican, half Jamaican wildcard, rapping like he’s throwing evidence out of the car mid-chase. And sometimes he just might be. The stories of Richard Morales Jr. are the stuff of rap legend and often eclipse the music. Gunplay robbed his accountant at gunpoint. Gunplay’s been knocked out twice on camera. Gunplay loves cocaine and fishing. Like his precursor ODB, the mythos of Morales is unparalleled.
When Gunplay told reporters between sniffs that he could quit coke any time he wanted, no one believed him. After all, this guy publicly admitted to spending £1500 a week and was filmed traveling to Columbia just to partake in the purest China White he could find. But so far, he’s kept his word. Gunplay assures me multiple times during our interview that his focus is now entirely on his career. Wrongly perceived as a Rick Ross weed carrier, he sprung into profile after the collapse of their group Triple C’s in 2009. On the strength of potent guest verses and unrestrained mixtapes, Gunplay signed a solo deal three years later with Def Jam. That same year, his aforementioned bookkeeper robbery case almost derailed any chance of a career as Morales faced life in prison. Gunplay narrowly avoided the charge due to the witness refusing to testify and has spent the last few years rebuilding his momentum.
With the long delayed release of his debut album Living Legend set for the end of the month, I spoke to the determined Miamian about his new outlook. Like Gunplay’s persona, the interview was unpredictable with his phone line and concentration frequently dropping out as he shopped with his girl for $300 Chanel perfume. We chatted about the time Gunplay pulled Rick Ross from a car wreckage, the longest he’s gone without sleeping and learning to write while sober. He also rapped for me, recalled seeing Biggie live and discussed why fans still love him. — Jimmy Ness
How are you doing Gunplay?
Gunplay: I’m blessed beyond belief brother.
Do you have a favourite verse you’ve written recently?
Gunplay: Yeah I do, the freestyle that’s on “Jon Gotti.” The line where I said um… hold up, let me tell you right now. This is it right here [Gunplay starts rapping].
“I don’t give a fuck. Never have and I never will. I’ll scratch your candy paint and I’ll yank both sets of rims. They wasn’t 4Gs, almost threw them in the fucking trash, then I called you up and sold them right back to your pussy ass.”
Nigga wasn’t riding 4Gs [Rims]. I took them shits, I stole them and I realised them shits ain’t even 4Gs. You know niggas ride Forgiatos, man. So I was about to throw them away and I said “fuck it, I’ll sell it right back to him.”
Is that a true story?
Gunplay: I’m not incriminating myself in nothing, sir.
Did you speak to No I.D when you were working on Living Legend?
Gunplay: I spoke to No I.D to start the album, yeah. I haven’t worked with him though.
Did he give you any advice?
Gunplay: Not really, he just believed in me. He saw my ups and my downs, and he basically has seen my focus. He’s seen that I’m focused now and that it’s time, so he opened the door for me. Shout out to No I.D.
In some of your previous interviews, you’ve said it was difficult to write music while sober. How have you found changing the way you write music?
Gunplay: It’s still a challenge, but sometimes I just challenge myself. You know I’m not on heavy drugs any more and stuff like that, so I might take a little shot of Ciroc or something or have a bottle of Belaire in the studio just to get the creative juices flowing, but other than that I adapted to it and it’s not a problem.
Is changing people’s perception of you difficult?
Gunplay: Oh no it’s not, because I’m not trying to change my image. I’m just trying to let people know that I’ve grown, that I’m not the same person. I’m still going to have my image of who I am and what I stand for, but I’m just not as wild. I’m not in jail anyway. I’m just not on drugs anymore. I’m focused on business now. The fans like to see, they like to go through the ups and downs of their favourite artist. Like 2pac, when he was in jail, I felt like I was in jail. When he got shot, I felt like I got shot. That’s just my way of letting the fans grow with me. You never know, I might change somebody’s views on drugs and stuff and they might go “Gunplay ain’t doing drugs no more, I ain’t doing drugs no more,” and that’s a positive, you know what I mean?
You’re still well liked despite the ups and downs of your personal life. I think if a lot of rappers went through the same thing, their fans might leave them. Why do you think that is?
Gunplay: Cause I’m a real person. I’m real. I’m honest with myself. I don’t try to be somebody I’m not. I don’t try to portray this tough guy or this rich guy. Man, I’m Gunplay. I’m me and you either hate me or love me, so that’s how that go. My fanbase, most of them are real too because if you’re listening to my music then you know I’m spitting nothing but truth. I believe that they can relate to that in one way or another so they’re going to stick with me. They’re loyal, just like I’m loyal.
Do you ever consider your own mortality? The fact that you’re lucky to be alive.
Gunplay: Oh yeah, yeah. There’s been plenty of times I could have lost my freedom, plenty of times I could of lost my life and I don’t want to visit that again. I feel like this is my second chance and I’m taking full advantage and I’m grateful for it. I’m not wasting time, too many of my partners died or are in prison and they didn’t get a second chance. I messed up a few times, the last one was the case when I was facing a life sentence. That really was my turning point for who I am now.
During “Cartoons and Cereal” you said you hadn’t slept in 72 hours. Was that true?
Gunplay: Yeah, I just went to sleep yesterday after 72 hours. That was my first time sleeping, people are calling my phone and I ain’t answer because I’m in a coma right now. But I go through conditioning phases. If I’m in a phase of being on the road constantly and working and working and working, that’s all I’ll want to do and in between working, I’ll want to do some more. I would be on the road and after all of the radio interviews I’ve done, I’ve got to keep working. So I had came home off the road and I went right back to work, back in the studio, doing some other things in my personal life and I hit the studio and we were in there until about 7 in the morning. Now I think I do need to rest, but I’ve only got one chance at this. You only get one chance to put out an album, so I try to go above and beyond the call of duty. I want to overwork. I want to get every nook and cranny. I want to do everything physically that I can do to make this album successful and the rest is in god’s hands.
What’s the longest you’ve gone without sleeping?
Gunplay: Ah… those were the cocaine days. You talking about four or five days man, just running around, but I wouldn’t really get strung out on it. I had to go here and go there, and I’m serving and shit. Niggas gon’ call you at 4 in the morning, 5 in the morning, 6 in the morning. They want what they want, so I’ve got to go take it to them. Straight up.
I bet you’ve had some terrible hangovers.
Gunplay: Oh yeah man, oh yeah. When I did that fishing vlog, the last one when I caught the big sailfish and the Mahi-mahi, I had the worst hangover on that boat and then the boat was rocking. I don’t get seasick, but I had a hangover and I threw up. I did it so smooth, the captain named Dan, he was the only one that saw it ’cause I did it so smooth. My girl was fishing and I just leaned over the side and “blaaah” and I just got back up and started helping her fish like “you gotta do it like this, yeah you gotta lift the poll up.” Dan was like “I SAW THAT.” I was like “oh, oh okay. Well don’t spread the word [laughs].
One of my current favourite Instagram videos is you pretending to give your dog a Suplex. Is your dog involved in a lot wrestling activity?
Gunplay: Um… I mean that day she was. I had to get rid of her though. That was a Presa Canario, a very expensive dog, but I was moving around too much and I couldn’t tend to her, the way I needed to, so I sold her. But um, she’s a real good dog, a real good dog. Smart dog, humble dog, she ain’t running around the house tearing shit up. Cool dog, man. I miss her. Her name was “Yo.” That was her name “Y O,” and I’d be like “Yo, come here. YO!”
We’ve seen you on YouTube do fishing and theme parks. I think we need to see a new Gunplay video blog. What other activities would we see you doing?
Gunplay: Boar hunting. I’m going real soon. We got the crew from Swagger Fishing that I went and caught the sailfish with. They go boar hunting as well, so we’re going to go out there and get some fresh ham [laughs].
Do you mention fishing on Living Legend at all?
Gunplay: Ah nah, not really. Living Legend is more or less my life, my real life. Not the fun part. July 31st by the way.
I know you spent a lot of your childhood in Miami after leaving New York. Were you a big fan of JT Money and the Poison Clan?
Gunplay: Of course. I know JT through the streets. I’ve seen him a few times here and there and we linked up. We’re supposed to do some music too actually, but it’s in the works.
Do you remember your first concert?
Gunplay: It was a Biggie concert, out here on Virginia Key beach. Everybody was outside, it was hot as hell. Bitches were passing out left and right, they were dropping like flies. I didn’t care, I said “I want to see Biggie, man.” I stood out there with my bottle of water in the middle of the crowd trying to get as close to the stage as I could get because I’m blind as a bat and I saw him man and it was dope. I just never got to see ‘Pac, that’s my guy right there. I’m just mad I never got to see him.
Do you remember your early shows with Rick Ross, performing in small capacity venues?
Gunplay: Of course. I remember we had a show out in Fort Meyers and god bless the dead, my homie Peanut was riding with us and it was me, Peanut, Ross and his girl. This chick was with us and we did a show for $250 bucks right, and then so we’re riding back home and we’re telling Peanut to drive. We said,
“Peanut man, we just finished performing man, drive” and he’s saying “nah man, I’m drunk and I’m tired, I ain’t going to drive.” We made him drive. He told us not to drive, he didn’t want to, but we made him drive. So about an hour, maybe 30 or 45 minutes into the ride home, I barely dozed off and I hear the sides of the road when you go off to the emergency lane, the bumps going “dum dum dum.” So we slide into the emergency lane and I say “Peanut, Peanut,” and he sleeps hard, so he’s dead asleep behind the wheel. I called and I screamed again “Peanut, wake up!” and this time I grabbed him, I shook him, but it was too late. There was a car there and someone was sleeping in the car.
I guess they were on their own road trip and out of this whole stretch of highway, we just happen to veer off and hit this one car. We hit the car, we swerve and the whole truck flipped upside down three or four times. We ended up in the median upside down. I had to help Ross out, had to pull him out with this sound, you don’t know what that is, gas or what. I guess it was a tire, but you never know and everybody ran. All I hear is Ross’ “help me!” He’s upside down, so I ran back and I helped him out. I was like “fuck it, if it blow up, it blow up man, shit we gon’ die together then brother.”
How was your relationship with Rick Ross as youngsters?
Gunplay: He’s always been a boss, that I can say. He’s always been a boss and he was just graduating to this level, so I’ve always said I’ve always looked up to him. I always listened to what he said and I always saw his vision. He’s always been a boss and always had a sense of humor. He’s the same person. He’s just got a little bit more money now.
I get the feeling you’re not too fashion conscious. Do you shop anywhere?
Gunplay: Um, no I ain’t going to say I shop anywhere. I go to the mall. I’m in Bal Harbour now, I go to Bal Harbour. I keep it simple man. It’s too much to keep up with. I like Jordans, I like nice belts, but you know, they cost so damn much man. Jeans that look like spandex and stuff like that man, I can’t do that man. They’re $1700 in one go.
Ok, let’s do some quick-fire questions. Firstly, I know you’re a fan of conspiracy theories. How do you feel about banks?
Gunplay: They just piss me off. When I’m using my card and all of a sudden they want to stop my card because I’m spending too much money at one time and you’ve got to unblock it and do all of that. Plus I like to really see my money. I’m old school man. I like to put my money in the sock draw.
What’s your favourite UGK song?
G: I would have to say “Murder.”
Who’s your favourite rapper in MMG other than Rozay?
G: Um I would have to say it’s a toss up between Tracy T and Meek Mill, for me.
What’s the meaning of your facial tattoos?
G: I got two black flags on one side. I don’t do tear drops, I do black flags and I’ve got three Cs on the other eye.
Who’s the richest person you’ve met?
G: Jay Z. We were on Ross’ international tour with him. The first one he [Rick Ross] ever did and we had a chance to just sit down and chop it up. Spit a few lines for him, that was back in the day, but he’s always been my favourite rapper, my favourite businessman. You could probably say he’s my favourite human.
How many Xbox controllers have you broken?
Gunplay: Oh the list goes on man! I haven’t broken any recently because I haven’t really been sitting down to play, but when I was on house arrest. Maaaaan, shit. I would at least break two a month, minimum, because I would take that shit serious when I was playing Call of Duty and Fight Night and shit. I would take that shit serious because they would be talking shit to you. I would be like “fuuuck!” break that shit then buy another one. That’s why I came up with the idea that I wanted to make my own controllers. The first one that I wanted to make was made out of the rubber from mallets and the buttons would be rubber mallet. So when you chuck the motherfucker, it’s just gon’ bounce right back to you. Then I was going to do sixteen different camouflage ones for the guns of Call of Duty. I have so many different things in the works that I want to do, but I know this music comes first and it’s what’s going to fund it. I’m still doing it [the camo controller idea], it’s called Prestige Control.
What does Gunplay want to do next?
G: Acting. You know I could only be typecast for a certain kind of movies, but I’ll be the best typecast nigga there is. Because of my tattoos and shit, but I’ll do my thing man. When I was on the run, I was in Atlanta and I started taking acting classes at The Greenroom. I had a private acting teacher and so I would go in when nobody was there and we would sit down for like two hours, and just start from the very beginning of what is acting? What is the meaning of acting and stuff like that, and there were a few things that she asked me to act out and she was like “you’re a natural. You really are a natural.” And a lot of people tell me that I need to go to acting, I need to be an actor. I’ll have a conversation with somebody and I get a little bit animated and they are like “yo, you should do acting yo” and I’m like “trust me man, its already in the works.”
I think you’d be quite good in a comedy, but I can’t imagine you in a romantic film.
Gunplay: You know… I might fall in love with a stripper [laughs].