Interview: Bobby Shmurda & Rowdy Rebel Spoke To VIBE From Behind Bars
Since the night of Dec 17, 2014, Bobby Shmurda, Rowdy Rebel and their Brooklyn friends have been struggling to claw their way out from the belly of the beast. Following their high-profile arrest while recording at Quad studios in Times Square, the Brooklyn-based rap group have done their best not to lose their sanity.
Bobby and Rowdy have attended countless court hearings while dealing with an array of lawyers to get them the best outcome possible. Last month (Oct. 19), the “Hot N*gga” rapper and his childhood cohort faced the heart wrenching music as they learned where they’ll spend the next seven years of their lives. With all the turmoil that the crew faced within the last two years, Bobby and Rowdy have refuse to lose their determination to win as musicians.
Before his official sentencing, Shmurda, who was born Ackquille Pollard, accepted the prosecution’s “global plea deal,” which helped reduced his, Rowdy’s and McCoy’s maximum sentences from 15 years. With time served, Pollard could be released by December 2019. A couple weeks before the sentence was finalized, Rowdy had nothing but praise for Bobby. He seemed more than just appreciative.
“That’s my brother from another mother,” Rowdy said on the phone. “Me and Bobby have been friends since the sandbox so it’s likewise. He did it for me, and I would’ve done it for him.”
Bobby was just as enthusiastic about helping his right-hand man reach the outside. After spending the last two years exhausting every legal option he had, the former Epic Records signee felt like his whole squad was being played by the judicial system. Other GS9 affiliates, like Rashid Derrisant who was sentenced to 98 1/3 years to life, and Alex Crandon, who received 53 years in prison, had already met their fate. Shmurda understood that the process may have seemed “dirty” to him and his crew, but he wanted to ensure that he and Rowdy didn’t go down a similar path.
“They kind of did it dirty at the end of the day,” Bobby explained over the phone. “They had offered me five (years) but then they said if I take the seven, then I’ll be taking it so that they could give Rowdy seven because they were going to offer him 12. I didn’t want my bro to do 12 years because at the end of the day, we didn’t really do nothing, but they playing dirty. So I’m going to take one for the bro.”
Some will say the tables seemed to turn real quick on the morning of their last court date. Shmurda and Rebel received their sentence at the Manhattan Supreme Court on Oct. 19, only a couple weeks after our conversation. Shmurda was officially sentenced to seven years in prison for 4th-degree conspiracy (to criminally posses a weapon in the second degree) and 2nd-degree criminal weapons possession. Rebel, who was born Chad Marshall, and their GS9 brethren Nicholas McCoy were sentenced separately.
The Flatbush native understood that by signing the plea, he would waive his right to appeal the court’s decision. However, unbeknownst to Shmurda at the time, he would remain under post-release supervision for another five years as per the plea he signed. Clearly, Bobby was outraged.
“I was forced to take this sentence, I did not want to take this sentence,” Shmurda shouted in the courtroom. “I was forced by my attorney to take this plea.”
Bobby immediately pointed at his lawyer Alex Spiro and screamed “He lied to us!” as if he pulled the ultimate heist on him. He was ready to embrace his plea, live with time served, and prepared himself to be behind bars until he turns 25. However, once the judge delivered his sentence, his rage took over after he felt conned into signing a plea deal.
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Back at the Brooklyn House of Detentions before his sentencing, Rowdy sounded as if he and Bobby were back on their block in East Flatbush. After being in jail for nearly two years, the “Shmoney Keeps Calling” rapper has become accustomed to his surroundings by watching movies on the TV, working out at the rec room, playing basketball, and doing his best to stay well nourished. Being around a wide range of inmates has allowed him to embrace his new outlook on life and calculate his career moves upon his release.
“Let me tell you one thing that jail really did for me so far,” Rowdy said over the phone. “It’s made me really humble. I say that as someone who was hands-on and was always ready to jump in the fire. When I got to jail, it made me sit back and observe first. So I feel like jail has made me very humble and understanding, and it makes you grow up. There are a lot of egos in here. A lot of people have their own mindset and personality, and they’re going to mix.”
The fellas’ legal situation hasn’t discouraged them from plotting their comeback in music. According to Rowdy, he and Bobby have a mixtape that they plan to drop called The Last Of The Real. To keep the hustle in full motion, Rowdy also plans to drop his next solo mixtape Shmoney Keeps Callin Part 2 in April 2017. The East Flatbush native isn’t a fan of recording over the phone. Rowdy is doing what he can and doing his best to gather artists from their camp as well as several major names for their forthcoming project.
“I’m trying to get features from Meek [Mill] right now, but there’s going to be a couple of names on there,” Rowdy said. “It’s like 12 songs if I’m not mistaken. Trust me, y’all are going to think that we never left. The dance moves are swift too. We got new dance moves for the streets. We still dancing in here.”
According to Bobby, there are only three things you can really do in jail: gamble, work out, or get in trouble. While does his best not to do the latter, he claims his dice skills are undeniable and he hits the gym every day. He keeps his mind off the mental anguish stemming from his struggles by channeling his creative energy into creative projects like a full-length biopic about GS9 (which by the way, I’m here for but I digress).
At press time, Bobby was being held at a correctional facility in New York until he’s transferred to another facility to serve out the remainder of his sentence. While Rowdy awaits at the Brooklyn House Of Detention to be transferred. He still has a lengthy road ahead of him before his shackles come off in 2019, yet I have faith he’ll make it through with his head held high. He’s got the support of other high-profile supporters like Meek Mill, Migos, Young M.A, Travis Scott, and Uncle Murda. According to GS9’s publicist Binish PR, Rowdy is in “great spirits” and Shmurda can’t be broken.
“He’s positive because he gets closer and closer to being home. Regardless of any rumors that anyone may have seen or heard, he wants you all to know that he is okay and nothing can break him.”
Allow me to show you a side of Bobby that isn’t clouded by the media’s negative depiction of him. He’s still an average human being just like the rest of us. He’s concerned about police brutality, feels for the Black Lives Matter movement, and has become addicted to reading all sorts of books. He misses all the fine Brooklyn girls, but there’s one thing he misses above all: the Sour.
Below you’ll find our conversation before he his sentence was delivered.
Bobby Shmurda: You took another plea deal to lessen Rowdy’s sentence. How did you feel about it at first?
They kind of did it dirty at the end of the day. They had offered me five (years) but then they said if I take the seven, then I’ll be taking it so that they could give Rowdy seven because they were going to offer him 12. I didn’t want my bro to do 12 years because at the end of the day, we didn’t really do nothing but they playing dirty. So I’m going to take one for the bro. That’s the type of n*gga I am. I’ll do anything for my bros. I’d die for them n*ggas. I thought about it, and I’ve done a lot of shit in my life so a little seven years won’t be all that. I’ll do five years of it, and I’ll be 25 when I get home. I’ll still be young. It’ll be a lesson learned. If anything, everything happens for a reason because I could’ve been in worse trouble or I could’ve been dead.
Rowdy was so appreciative of everything that you’ve done for him thus far, including your decision to take the plea
That’s my dawg! I’ve known that nigga since kindergarten. That’s my dawggie! I know he’d do the same for me.
What have you been doing with your time recently?
There’s only three things you can really do in here: gamble, work out, or you get in trouble.
I’m assuming you’re working out and gambling for fun then?
That’s it. I try and stay out of trouble for the most part. Trouble do find me once in awhile but I try to stay out of trouble for the most part. I’m also focused on my artists out there. I got a couple of artists out there that’s pushing right now. I’m just focused on them ya heard? Making sure they do the right thing out there and all of that. I’m trying to give them the most support that I could.
Is there a lot of discussion about Black Lives Matter there?
Yea, but at the end of the day, we’re in jail you know? The black CO’s try to give us as much leniency and let us rock as much as they could. At the end of the day, they got a job to do, too. But I tell them, there’s a lot of black people that I’ve seen here that are here because of their color. They be innocent as a mo******cker. They didn’t really do anything. It was probably their friend that did something, but these courts look at us like we black. You put us in a jumpsuit and most likely we going to look like we did it. They just judge us based off that. Black Lives do matter but we got to do better as people.
Do the prisoners talk about the police shootings that have surfaced online?
Yea of course. In jail we talk about it because upstate is prison where we go to get sentenced, and there’s a lot of races and stuff up there. There’s a lot of racist things that happen up in prison, too. We in jail right now. We haven’t hit state prison yet, but when we get to prison, there’s a lot of racist things that happen to black people all the time. I just want people to open up their eyes and look more into the system. I want people to recognize the system because they do a lot of dirty shit. Not only on the outside, it’s on the inside, too. It’s the courtroom, the judges, the lawyers, the legal aides, it’s everybody that does a lot of dirty shit.
VIBE recently dropped off an unreleased interview from 2Pac during his time at Riker’s. Do you feel like Pac at all in your position?
As far as the case, yea. We didn’t do nothing but because where we was coming from as rappers, and where we came from, they felt like we didn’t deserve the lifestyle. I felt like there was a conspiracy against us because as the police commissioner Bill Bratton said in his interview about us, he said he feel like we’re glamorizing. He feels like hip-hop glamorizes our crimes and lifestyle, and that we glamorize a lifestyle of crime. But in reality, we actually tell you the truth about where we come from.
Have you heard about Max B coming home in a few years?
I was so happy when I heard about that. I’m a fan of Max B. I was so happy when I heard. We coming back baby! Hopefully when we get out we can do some songs and make some money together.
Who else has been keeping up with you?
Besides my camp that I got out there, Migos, Young M.A showed love, and a couple other rappers showed love like Trav (Travis Scott), Meek (Mill) and Uncle Murda too. But I mostly talked to the Migos.
What kind of words of encouragement do they give you?
They told me ‘you’ll be 25 when you get out. You’ll still be young just stay focused while you in here. Everything happens for a reason.’ I’m only here for five year and I could’ve been gone forever so everything happens for a reason. They said to just take my time, get stronger, get bigger, and come out even better.”
What other new thoughts and experiences has jail opened your mind up to? Lil Wayne said he (sort of) officiated a gay wedding in there. Obviously, I know you’re not doing all that but what new experiences have you been through throughout your time in there?
Oh nah, I don’t have no problem with gay people but I don’t want no part in that (Laughs). But it opened me up to writing books. I read more. I’m just getting smarter and stronger, you know what I’m saying? It opened me up to a lot of new ideas. I got time to sit down and really think. When I get out, I’ll be 25 and will still be young so I got the whole world to take over. When I was outside, I never really had the time to just sit down and think. I was always everywhere. Being in here gave me a chance to sit down and see who people really are and see who’s really with me in my corner.
Yea, Prodigy and Lil Wayne dropped off books based on their prison experiences. In Wayne’s prison memoir, he said that Gatorade is like gold in there. Is that true?
Yea, getting Gatorade at Riker’s is dope because they don’t sell any of that in jail. Probably in county but there’s no Gatorade in here. Everything is diet, sugarless and fat free like diet soda.
You must be learning a lot in there. Prodigy’s book has elements of a cookbook yet provides anecdotes about his experiences with eating healthy behind bars. Great food is scarce in there, but have you learned any recipes while you’ve been in jail?
I mean, I don’t really cook. We’ve got a chef here but I don’t really cook.
What’s the best meal you’ve had in there so far?
At Riker’s Island, the food isn’t all that. But when I was in county, the best food I had was chicken alfredo. We eat everything that you can find at the corner store outside, but Riker’s Island is fat free because someone sued the place before.
What’s one thing that you miss most about Flatbush?
My weed (laughs). Going to get weed whenever I want. Just waking up and getting weed. I miss the girls, but the girls going to be there when I get back. I still miss the weed more than the girls, more than anything (laughs). I miss the Sour!