Brooklyn rapper Bobby Shmurda, who has spent more than a year in jail, has been serving time in “protective custody” at Rockland County Correctional Center, 40 miles north of New York City.
He is only allowed to come out of his cell for 75 minutes each day and has utilised his time to the full, arranging to sit down with GQ Magazine for a feature entitled Music Bobby Shmurda: His Surreal Saga and Exclusive Jailhouse Interview. Here, we list the top 7 moments from the piece, including his future in music, the details surrounding his case and why he believes he is innocent;
1. Busta Rhymes warned Bobby Shmurda to “Be safe” just before his arrest
Moments before his December 2014 arrest, Bobby Shmurda was in an elevator at New York’s Quad Studios with Sha Money XL, the man who signed him to Epic Records. Sha Money was telling the “Hot Ni**a” rapper to lower his profile, since the NYPD seemed to have an interest in Shmurda and his GS9 crewmates. As the elevator descended, it stopped on a lower floor and Busta Rhymes, who was at another studio, appeared. Though from different eras of Hip Hop, the two MCs both hail from East Flatbush in Brookyln, and they greeted each other, having previously met during Shmurda’s rise to fame. The elevator was too full to fit Busta, and as the doors closed, he called to Shmurda, “You got to be safe out there, mon.”
2. He is planning to release two movies, one of which will be about his life
Since his incarceration in 2014, Bobby has been keeping himself busy inside, including penning two movies, one of which will be based on the story of his life. “That’s going to be a fiction story about this whole experience,” he said, laughing. “I gotta say fiction, though. It’s going to be a fiction story.” The news of a potential Bobby Shmurda biopic was also touched on in an interview with his mum Leslie Pollard gave to XXL where she said, “He just wants to build a storyline, letting people know where they started, where they came from and how these people are and what they’re doing and what the media is trying to portray them as. He also gave us insight about who, which people, he’s going to let play which characters and things of that nature“.
3. He saw his local weed dealer murdered in front of him in 2013
A shocking tale was told of a young Bobby, then going by his nickname Chewy when he went to pick up weed from his local dealer, Pluto. Pluto lived in Brownsville, Brooklyn, which, together with adjacent neighbourhoods in the far eastern end of the borough—East New York, East Flatbush, Canarsie, where the subways end—is regularly described by the police and the media as one of the most violent precincts in New York City. Upon his arrival to Pluto’s apartment, two men ran into the building and shot and killed Pluto in front of 19 year old Bobby. This, he said, was the moment he decided to make a serious attempt at a career he’d always fantasised about but had done next to nothing to make real: “I felt like I survived for a reason.”
4. His “Hot N*gga” and “Shmoney Dance” videos cost just $300 to film
Within two months of seeing his local weed dealer murdered, he and a friend named Chad “Rowdy” Marshall had written more than a dozen songs, enough for a mixtape, which they hustled on the street for five bucks a copy. But they needed to make videos and upload them to social media, an essential step for finding an audience in hip-hop today. They chose two of Pollard’s favorite tracks, “Hot Nigga” and “Shmoney Dance,” and paid a local kid $300 to shoot them. The videos now have over 50 million views on YouTube combined.
5. Shmurda’s associates allege that NYPD harrassed him and his crew and have a personal vendetta
An affiliated rapper recalled one occasion on which officers pointed their guns at Shmurda’s entourage, pulled them out of their cars, and threw them to the ground. Donny Flores, one of his managers at a time, says that when he went to the local precinct to retrieve Shmurda after he’d been booked another time, he saw cops “dancing and singing” to “Hot Nigga.” “One cop was like: ‘Oh, my God, this is what my daughter is listening to?’ I didn’t know what was going on,” Flores said. “Now I know. They targeted him.” Zack Eden, who wrote the GQ profile, questioned the strength of the case against Shmurda by the Office of New York’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor who had emphasised GS9’s drug trafficking to justify their arrest. The press release that accompanied the arrest in December 2014 mentioned ‘proceeds’ and ‘narcotics packaging.’ And yet, defense lawyers say, nothing—no narcotics inventory, no packaging, no cash—has yet been shared by prosecutors during pre-trial discovery.”
6. Epic Records tried to get Shmurda away from street life
Another revelation is the lengths that Epic Records apparently went to try and get Shmurda away from the street life he had become accustomed to. They rented an apartment in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for him and tried to force him to work from Los Angeles. Nonetheless, the rapper always seemed to end up back in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn where he grew up. “I think a lot of those kids were forced to be gangbangers. ‘Forced’ as in: You’re a Crip, or you’re against us,” said Christopher Wilson, part of Shmurda’s management team. Epic eventually sent a Wilson affiliate named Ball Reckless to try and “extract” Shmurda from New York in September 2014. Ball failed to get Shmurda to leave with him, and the rapper ended up getting arrested a few months later.
7. He is suing the NYPD
The rapper is suing the NYPD for an alleged false arrest that he claims has caused him permanent “nervous shock and mental anguish.” Shmurda says he was at a friend’s house on June 3, 2014 when police came knocking. “When one of the occupants opened the door a slight bit to see who was there,” the suit claims, “Officer Douglas Corso and other police officers kicked in the door and illegally entered the residence without a search warrant.” The only cop named in the suit is Officer Corso, an official who has been a defendant in five other federal civil rights lawsuits dating as far back as 2011, according to the report. Shmurda’s lawyer, Derek Sells, is a civil rights lawyer who happens to be married to Civilian Complaint Review Board executive director Mina Malik. Sells claims no civilian complaint was filed with the CCRB about an illegal search.