Gunplay: How Miami's Coke-Sniffin', Po' Pimpin' Maniac Joined Rap's Power Circle
As recently as a year ago, Miami rapper Gunplay was better known for a clip of him snorting cocaine outside a restaurant in Medellín than he was for his music.
In recent months, however, the co-founder of Rick Ross's Carol City Cartel (AKA Triple C's) has flipped his image as an unhinged goon. His exuberant work on "Cartoon and Cereal" by emotive Los Angeles MC Kendrick Lamar as well as "Power Circle" from Maybach Music Group's recent Self Made, Vol. 2 are among the year's most compelling rap cameos, featuring big, blustery, eminently quotable verses that totally and completely overshadow those of his better-known collaborators.
In the past, Gunplay had been forced to play the background on Maybach Music projects for contractual reasons. (MMG albums, not including Ross' solo work, are released on Warner Bros., while Triple C's remains locked into a contract with Def Jam.) But now he's got his own freshly minted solo deal with Def Jam and a growing profile as hip-hop's most entertainingly out-of-control MC. So while Ross might be celebrating his fourth number-one album this week with God Forgives, I Don't, his longtime lieutenant's unlikely second act is the most compelling story in Miami rap.
"My lane is wilin' the fuck out," Gunplay explains, describing his niche within the Maybach Music Group and hip-hop at large, before a session at Huge Music Studio in Doral. "Have fun, get money, blow that shit, fuck it." If MMG is the new Wu-Tang, then he would clearly be its ODB: the reckless, hard-living loose canon.
With his white tanktop and brown work pants, Gunplay could pass for a vato on this particular night if not for the unkempt mane of dreadlocks sprouting from the back of his head and the massive, sparkling Maybach Music chain around his neck. He keeps his shades on, preventing eye contact. Yet he's disarmingly forthcoming.
"I don't do coke no more," the rapper offers. He claims to have quit the drug back on Memorial Day 2008, though this timeline doesn't account for the footage of his Medellín ski trip. "I relapsed," he admits. And yes, he's already planning another "relapse" to coincide with the release of his solo debut, tentatively titled Medellín. "I snorted coke in Medellín, and they said my career was over. So now they gonna go buy my album titled Medellín... Cocksucker, Christmas is cancelled!"
But aside from the occasional cocaine slip-up, this divorced father of a seven-year-old boy doesn't party much these days, generally preferring to stay in and play Call of Duty: Black Ops. "All my gamers know: Nuke Tube ... Boom!"
Recalling his wilder days, Gunplay barks, "I would beat the shit out of you anytime, anywhere, for whatever." He says it in a deliberate, firm tone that lets you know he's not kidding. "I don't want to go there [anymore]. I'm tired. Look at my damn hand! My knuckle gone ... You can't throw a ball with your son," the rapper shakes his head. "Why? 'Cause you're still doing the dumb, young shit."
However, as just a few moments with Gunplay makes clear, he still hasn't lost his edge. Not even close. "I pop pills now. That's, like, my new coke," he explains between sips from a Heineken. "As a matter of fact, [I] got a little something right here," he adds, pulling a plastic bag of what he says is MDMA from his pocket and dropping a tab of "Molly." He's just getting over some "fucked-up" stuff that he says got him sick a week earlier. And he's "gotta get right for the night!"