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Maybach Music's Gunplay on His Swastika Tattoo, His Escort Agency, and Becoming Don Logan

Gunplay was consuming so many narcotics while making his aptly titled debut mixtape, Sniffahill, in 2008 that he dubbed himself "five-drug minimum" on one of its freestyles. Actually, for meter's sake, he said it in an abbreviated form ("five-drug mini/I popped 'bout... I forgot about how many"), but the nickname stuck.

"At any given time, I was on lean — prometh[azine] and codeine — coke, X, weed, and maybe Percs or some prescription drug to mellow everything out," the Maybach Music Group loose cannon says, recalling his preferred drug cocktail circa '08. "And I would just be in a zone. Those were the days. I didn't know my ass from a hole in the ground."

As Gunplay developed his voice on mixtapes like Off Safety and Don Logan as well as releases by the Carol City Cartel, references to drug use became staples of his music. Though just one element of a volatile lyrical mixture equally rife with callous and even occasionally grotesque descriptions of sex and violence ("Dirty bitch got doodoo on her thong/Make a nigga go soft, limp noodle can't bone," he grunts on a track called "Always in Some Trouble"), it was Gunplay's talk about sniffing hooray that made the "human L.A. riot" notorious.

But as common as it is for rappers to boast about $1,000-plus-a-week weed habits, copping to a weakness for hard drugs has, until very recently, been a faux pas in hip-hop — an admission of weakness with potentially career-ending ramifications.

"I knew some people would be like, 'He snorts cocaine! Awwawawaa!'" an excited Gunplay howls during his sit-down with New Times at Doral's Huge Music Recording Studios. "But I. Don't. Give. A fuck," he says pointedly. "I knew there's a million motherfuckers that's snorting that's going to vibe with this. So I'm gonna make music for them. And after a while, them motherfuckers gonna tell the sober motherfuckers: 'Man, you trippin', dawg! You might need to snort a line and listen to dawg's shit. Or at least drink a wine cooler. Dayum!'"

But the effects of his drug habit took a toll on his breathing and appearance, not to mention personal and professional relationships. Things came to a head on Memorial Day 2008. "That whole weekend, I went hard," Gunplay remembers of his last coke bender. "I had a corner left of the eightball in the bag, and I put it on the back of my hand, blasted off, and said, 'That's it — I'm done.'"

A coke-free Gunplay approached his rap career with renewed focus. "I wasn't expecting to live this long. So I'm like, 'Shit, I'm still here? Hold up, let me buckle down.'" And his electric 2010 collaboration, "Rollin'," with the similarly rambunctious (and then-ascendant) Waka Flocka Flame, was the turning point he needed to propel his career forward following the disappointment of the Triple C's album Custom Cars and Cycles.

"He on that same crunk shit I'm on," Gunplay says, referring to the "Hard in the Paint" rapper. "That motherfucker jumps in the crowd, moshing with the people. I'm on that! When he did it, and was mainstream with it, now the public has an ear for that. So when I bring it to the table, they are going to [be more open to it]. It meshed real good, and the public accepted it."

Released for free online this past February, "Cartoon and Cereal" with Kendrick Lamar was even more revelatory. The pain that's always bubbled beneath the surface of Gunplay's rhymes was brought to the fore by some of his most personal lines: "Salt all of my wounds/Hear my tears all in my tunes/Let my life loose in this booth/Just for you, motherfucker, hope y'all amused."

"That crunk shit is cool, but the easiest music I can make is that heartfelt music, that truth shit that I really want to say without rapping," Gunplay insists. "But I have to put it in rhyme form. When you hear a Gunplay album, you're gonna hear that. At the end of that album, you will totally understand Gunplay. I want you to know why I'm so energetic and why I feel so much pain in my heart. The world is [totally ass-backward] to me. And that's why I act the way I act."

When Gunplay drops his Def Jam debut, Medellín, there's a strong possibility he might do so under a different name. Turns out Gunplay isn't exactly a corporate-friendly moniker. When Maybach Music Group was invited to participate in a freestyle cypher segment at the 2011 BET Hip-Hop Awards, producers not only balked at letting Gunplay appear but also barred the other MCs from even saying his name.

Enter Don Logan, an alter ego the rapper adopted from the 2000 British crime drama Sexy Beast, costarring Ben Kingsley as a determined enforcer capable of flipping from unnervingly calm to raging psychopath in a split second. After becoming a rabid fan of the film, Gunplay introduced the persona on a 2010 mixtape of the same name.

"When I saw his attitude in the movie, I was like, That's me," the rapper barks. "We're gonna make the transition so we don't have to go on BET and they call me G-Play. No! The name is Don Logan. If you don't like that, it's Jupiter Jack. Welcome to my universe! Yeah!"

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