One of Maybach Music Group's longest standing soldiers, Gunplay is finally ready open fire on the rap scene. Here, he shares how he's made it past the pipe to become one of hip-hop's most anticipated newbies
VIBE: Bring me back to the beginning, when Ross first approached you to join Maybach Music Group?
Gunplay: We started this before it was Maybach Music, when it was Carol City Cartel. I was there from day one. I always saw his vision and knew he could achieve that. That’s why I was so loyal. The vision that he had years ago and the work ethic he put in, it rubs off after a while. That’s the person you look up to like your big uncle. His vision, he had that from day one and it’s just now taking fruition.
MMG has changed a lot since its inception. How did your experience with the crew differ after phase two, when Pill, Meek Mill and Wale joined the fold?
It’s like you’re in school—a take notes experience. We saw the blueprint. The whole time I just sat there and rolled with the punches. I played my position to the T. I never tried to outshine—nah, I gotta roll a blunt, carry bags, and be a hype man? That’s what my job on the road is? Let’s go. You got to fall before you ball and step it up. The average guy is like, “Man, I aint gotta do all that shit.” Nah, you got to work around here. Just because I’m down from day one doesn’t mean a nigga is going to get a free check. You gotta pay your dues, so I did that over these past couple years.
Was there ever a time when Ross pulled you to the side to let you know your time will come, that he still wants you to rock?
I’m not going nowhere, man. This is my shit. Do you wanna go get this money? You see what I’m doing over here? I’m blowing niggas up I’m changing niggas’ lives. Buckle down and come get it. And that’s what I did within the last year or two. Today I’m finna go sign my solo Def Jam deal today, so it’s pretty dope.
Every member of MMG speaks about how selfless Ross has been as a boss. How he wants his artists to become even bigger than himself.
He got a big heart. If he sees that you’re really passionate and trying to get somewhere, if he can lend you a hand he definitely gon’ do that. If he feels like you’re ready to shine, he’s gon’ do that. He’s the boss, so no matter what you do, ain’t nobody really gonna outshine you. That’s the first rule of the game anyway: Never try to outshine the master. Its just not gonna happen. We go by the rules over here. We use strictly gangster conduct.
Stalley brings blue-collar bars, Wale has the fashion flair and poetic rap—what do you bring to the MMG crew?
I bring that wild shit. The charisma. That I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude. I don’t worry about what people driving or wearing. I bring an air of unpredictability—you never know what I’m gonna say. It keeps people walking on eggshells. Other than that, I just bring that energy, I bring that, damn you a rap nigga on TV why you still in the hood? That’s why I salute Meek Mill—he be doing his blogs in the ’hood on bikes. I feel that and salute that.
People say you stand out on Self Made 2. Do you feel like that’s your breakthrough?
Yeah, if that’s what you call it. It certainly feels like that. I always keep my finger on the pulse of the streets. It’s like you’ve been taking notes so long and battered and bruised and worn and torn, that when you get to this point it’s bittersweet. Like damn, it took all this time but I’m glad it’s coming now when my mind is right. Two or three years ago, I would’ve probably taken the money and did stupid stuff; I’d probably be in jail.
So your debut album is titled Bogotá, after the capital of Columbia…
I caught a lot of slack for snorting that coke on video. They gave me a lot of slack so in turn I just want them to start feening for it, too. You know, go get that Bogota, man! The name Bogotá is a culture. I got a Bogotá bitch. Ride out Bogotá rims. I got Bogotá cocaine, you know? Bogota is a lifestyle.
Will the music be similarly addictive?
It’s gonna be energy and a lot of pain. I’m about to sit down with Pharrell and a couple of other producers from the South. That’s the main priority right now, just making sure I get some time to sit down with [Pharrell] and knock something out. I know we’ll come out with something epic.
You’ve seen where MMG began and how far the imprint has come. Just how much of an impact can you guys have?
There’s no limit. We’re showing people how to be self-made. Having a dream and chasing it. Being ambitious. That’s the title of most of our music. You could start from nothing and have the world; it’s all on you. I saw firsthand so and I’m doing it firsthand.