But Gunplay's name isn't the only baggage likely to give him trouble as his profile grows. There's also the matter of his fascination with Nazi iconography, specifically the large swastika tattoo on his neck. Though there's nothing to suggest that the MC of mixed Jamaican and Puerto Rican parentage harbors anti-Semitic views, there's also no justifiable reason in the average person's mind to get such a tainted symbol tattooed on one's body.

Still, Gunplay has a fairly complex explanation for the tattoo. And hoping to elaborate, he reached out to New Times after his comments in a recent interview with music blog Pigeons and Planes became a hot topic on Twitter and music websites.

"The swastika was a Chinese symbol back in the day, meaning love, peace, and prosperity," Gunplay says. "When Hitler picked it as a symbol for his Third Reich, it was right side up. And after he got in power, he turned it to the left, and that's when it got corrupt.

"That's basically the same thing that happened with me. We're born innocent, and the way you grow up — the people you're surrounded by, the environment — it turns you crooked. It turns you into that bad person, that thug, that undesirable element."

It's a forgone conclusion that the flak Gunplay receives for the tattoo will only increase as he becomes better known. Yet he has no plans to cover it up. "If anyone don't like it, fuck them," he says before letting out a hearty laugh. "[Unless] I go to prison or they kill my ass, I don't care."

Gunplay's uncompromising brashness leaves little room for indifference. Music websites and online video commenters tend to peg him either as an iconoclastic evil genius, an imbecile, or worse. But with nonthreatening, Drake-style emo rap becoming hip-hop's new norm, it seems the door is wide open for an incorrigible antihero to make the genre dangerous again, in much the same way that DMX, high and freshly sprung from prison, did at the height of the Bad Boy era some 14 years ago.

"What my mama used to say?" Gunplay asks rhetorically. "Sometimes you gotta play the fool to catch the wise. You might think I'm retarded and dumb. Cool, I like to keep an air of unpredictability around me. I might dap you up, smile, and slap you in the face. I don't even know what I'm gonna do next."

Actually, if this rap thing doesn't work out, Gunplay already has a back-up plan. He's already preparing to launch his Apples and Onions Executive Escort Agency this fall. The business concept: Export his Miami-style, street-level pimp skills across the United States, starting with Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, to which he'll temporarily relocate in September to begin operations.

"This has been my dream since I was a kid," Gunplay says. "Since I broke my first bitch, I always knew, yeah, I'm gonna own an escort service. I'm gonna take this po' pimpin' to some mo' pimpin'."

Asked if Def Jam might have any reservations about its latest signee treading into such dubious legal waters, Gunplay doesn't appear the least bit concerned. "If they don't like it, they'll be fucked up, 'cause I'm doing it."

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