Bobby Shmurda reveals what motivated him behind bars in first post-prison interview

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Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY
·3 min read
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The wait is over: For the first time as a free man, Bobby Shmurda is reflecting on what he learned in prison.

After serving seven years in the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York, Shmurda, who was released Tuesday, reassured fans that his "spirit's always gon' be up" in a GQ interview published Thursday.

"I used to sleep next to people who had 40 to life. People who’ve been in there for 30 years and haven’t laughed — I’d have them crying all day," Shmurda said. "When you got good energy, no matter where you at, you can bring a smile to someone’s face.”

The "Hot Boy" rapper's experience in jail wasn't all too bad, he said, recalling getting "the best treatment in jail" after getting a job.

"Wanna shower five times a week instead of three? Get a job. Eat better? Get a job. More phone time? Get a job. But they kept firing my (expletive) when they realized I was just doing it to stay on the phone,” he said.

Bobby Shmurda: Viral 'Hot Boy,' 'Shmoney Dance' rapper released from prison

While he was in prison, Shmurda said he used his time to reflect on his career — which was on the rise when he was arrested thanks to a viral 2014 music video that popularized the “Shmoney dance." In what he called his "lowest moment" and "reckoning," a fan letter from a 6-year-old is what convinced him to take his music career more seriously.

“It was 2016, I was in the box. A 6-year-old girl wrote to me: She said I was her favorite rapper… That just let me know the kids are watching me, and I have to be a role model," he said.

Bobby Shmurda arrives at Power 105.1's Powerhouse 2014 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on Oct. 30, 2014.
Bobby Shmurda arrives at Power 105.1's Powerhouse 2014 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on Oct. 30, 2014.

“I didn't really care too much for (music) until I went to jail and I seen how the fans were loyal," he said. "I can’t name a week that I didn’t see at least 10 (pieces) of fan mail, throughout the whole bid.”

Rapper Quavo picked Shmurda up on the day of his release and shared a video of the two stepping off the plane together on Instagram.The Migos member said he encouraged Shmurda to "be ready to get out" and "have some goals."

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“I’d say, ‘Keep your head up, stay down, because we’re all Black, we’ve all been in tough situations,' " Quavo told GQ. "But I ain't never had to do years like that. But you just say, ‘Keep God first, stay loyal to what (you) stand on.’ At the end of the day, (if you do that) it's an easy road to success when you come home."

What's next for Bobby Shmurda? Quavo teased that a Shmurda feature on Migos' forthcoming "Culture III" album "is a must," and Shmurda reassured his fans that he "has something cooking."

In late 2014, authorities arrested Shmurda after he left a recording studio near Radio City Music Hall, only days after he performed “Hot Boy” for a national television audience on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Investigators found two handguns and a small amount of crack cocaine in a car in which he was riding, authorities said.

An indictment charged the rapper, whose real name is Ackquille Pollard, and more than 15 defendants with a variety of crimes including murder, attempted murder, assault and drug dealing. Shootings by the gang left one rival dead, injured an innocent bystander sitting on a folding chair outside a Brooklyn home and caused pandemonium outside a nightclub in Miami Beach, Florida, authorities said.

The court papers alleged that Shmurda once fired a gun toward a crowd of people outside a barbershop in Brooklyn. They also said he was present during a 2015 confrontation between rival drug gangs outside a Brooklyn courthouse where shots were fired.

Contributing: Charles Trepany, USA TO; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bobby Shmurda reflects on what he learned in prison