A little over a month ago, I found myself sitting on a couch in between Rick Ross and Gunplay. The two Carol City natives and childhood friends had just wrapped up a Memorial Day show at the BB&T Center, and, at that moment, I was the meat in between their buns.
Asked how he was doing, Gunplay smiled from behind black sunglasses, "I'm chillin' like a villain, like Bob Dylan poppin' penicillin."
If we had to wager a guess then about which of the two rappers might be in jail 32 days later, the odds would have been in Gunplay's favor. While both musicians have had past troubles with the law, Ross' have been — at least until now — minor compared to Gunplay's.
But the artist formally known as Don Logan (born Richard Morales) admits his biggest obstacle in breaking into the music industry has been his legal woes. "The legal system," he said plainly. "That's been my biggest struggle." And it's hard to argue with that.
Gunplay was arrested in 2012 for armed robbery. It happened at the Tax Place on NW Seventh Avenue in Miami, and it was all caught on tape. Gunplay is seen in the video brandishing a pistol in front of Turon Woodside, an accountant and acquaintance, before striking him and taking his gold chain and cell phone.
After a 90-day house arrest, Gunplay managed to sidestep a potential life sentence when Woodside stopped cooperating in the trial. After the case was dropped, Gunplay took to Twitter to give a shoutout to Rick Ross.
But, unlike Ross, Gunplay has managed to stay out of legal trouble since then, and he's been able to focus on his music. "I've been trying to perfect my craft, but in the interim, I made a few poor decisions that have held me back," he told us. "But God's not going to give you anything that you can not handle. Especially success."
Yesterday on Noisey, Gunplay premiered his video for "Wuzhanindoe" (which is a compressed and much cooler way of saying "What's happening, though?"). And the video has all the gangster rap staples: a pair of dice lands on a stack of wrinkled bills, a pit bull barks in slow motion, homies chill on a porch, and an ominous cop car rolls past a graffitied alleyway. The only thing that could make it more West Coast gangsta-rrific would be if Ice Cube rolled up in a lowrider blasting Snoop Dogg while Dr. Dre clung to the bumper on a skateboard made out of empty Olde English bottles.
While it does sting a little bit that Gunplay is running around South Central L.A. rather than his hometown of Carol City, the video doesn't disappoint. What more could you want?
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It's got Gunplay, shirtless and unapologetic in all his inked-up glory, proudly rhyming about a lifestyle that almost landed him a life sentence. YG steps in for a guest verse toward the end, and — in what's hopefully not a case of foreshadowing — Gunplay flees from a cop with his weapon drawn, stepping over the hood of the cruiser before darting out of frame.
"I think me becoming successful and having him as a right-hand man, that shit is like lightning hitting the same place twice," Rick Ross told us backstage at the BB&T Center. If there exists a Gunplay fanclub, Ross is no doubt its president. "He etched his name in a special crowd, in a select few of motherfuckers that's respected as being real lyricists and real niggas," Ross said.
Gunplay's new album, Living Legend, will finally drop on July 31. "I'm about real talk," Gunplay said when asked to describe himself. And it's safe to assume there'll be plenty of that on the new album. Let's just hope Rick Ross is a free man when the time finally comes to give it a listen.