“I keep a blue flag hangin out my backside. But only on the left side, yeah that's the Crip side”
From Doggystyle to Bush, Snoop has quotables, but there's something about the above line from “Drop It Like It’s Hot” that is universally known. Snoop never hid the fact he bled blue, even at the height of his celebrity there was no shame in his Crippin. You see the same thing in Vince Staples, no flag hanging from his left side but his past as a Naughty Nasty Gangster Crip is a huge part of his artistry. The music that he’s most known for couldn’t be made without the life that came before. YG is in the same class as a gangster rapper who went from the block to the booth without putting the red flag away. We’re far from the days when gangster rap was the prominent form of rap but the game is full of former bangers and affiliates. Even Chris Brown was a Blood for a week.
Bloods, Crips, and other cliques are represented on and off record. It can get very real, very quickly. Some rappers come from the gang life while others use it for an image or a form of security that can solidify credibility. With all the flags and squads being represented, it’s easy to get puzzled and confused. It’s well-known that Future’s label is Freeband Gang, he has his own artists and has released two Freebandz Movie mixtapes, but lately, he’s also been repping a different gang, Taliban Gang. A few forums have been questioning why Drake and Future would shout out a well-known, militant group that has a long, violent history in Afghanistan and the Middle East, but this Taliban Gang is pure Atlanta (although there is an actual Taliban connection, more on that later).
It starts on “Digital Dash” when Future raps, “Taliban on these hoes” and right after Future warns the world what happens when Metro Boomin doesn’t trust you, Drake slides in with, “Halloween Taliban, Taliban.” In his mixtape breakdown video with Mass Appeal, Future is seen wearing two Taliban Gang chains - the two words separated by an AK-47.
Future has always made interesting association choices - astronauts, fire marshals and Jimi Hendrix, the Taliban just happens to be the most outrageous. It reminds me of T.I.’s “Rubberband Man” when he rapped, “wild as the Taliban, 9 in my right, 45 in my other hand,” helping to illustrate the wild days of a trapping trouble man. Of course, T.I.’s image has undergone some major changes but his history of gun purchases has only made the line more historic later in his career.
Similarly, Future isn’t just rapping about muddy cups and Xanax tabs, there are plenty of songs that show a life of a hustler who spent some time off the porch. He also admitted to hanging around kidnappers, murderers, and carjackers, Troy Ave told us that your friends speak to your character and they do fit the “Wild as the Taliban” description. In 2013, Future released the F.B.G: The Movie mixtape, “Freeband Taliban” is the 22nd song. It’s possible that this wasn’t the first Taliban reference but it’s the song that uses it as the title of a record. “100 deep, F.B.G fuckinTaliban” is the only line that references the group. He makes another reference on “Slick Talk,” “Taliban bands, run 'em straight through the machinery" and on the recent “Wicked” from Purple Reign, “Now I'm Taliban gang status, that's what's happenin” and on “In Her Mouth” from Evol, “It’s Taliban gang, we in a whole ‘nother era.”
After speaking with several colleagues and doing plenty of research, it didn’t seem that Taliban Gang was a new label or collective and it doesn’t appear that Future is referencing the Middle East group, so what is Taliban Gang!?
Growing up on the south-side of Atlanta, it was reported that Clayton County had the second worst gang problem in metro Atlanta, but in high-school, there were only two major gangs that come to mind - Southside Mafia and Hit Squad. They were the two rival cliques on our side. After doing some digging, I learned hat Hit Squad was also sometimes called Hit Squad Taliban. It originated on Riverdale Road, better known as Grove Street, a place immortalized on the Waka Flocka song “Grove St Party.” Waka has been screaming Riverdale on records since he first arrived before he was rapping he was well-known for just being another soldier in the streets.
The other rapper that was coming out of Hit Squad was Kebo Gotti, he has the second verse on “Grove St Party.” He went to jail and returned to Waka’s career blowing up. If you notice the video is shot entirely in this lime green tint, closely resembling the color of Hit Squad’s flag. Watch Kebo’s “Line Em Up” or “Everything 100” and it’s all lime green flags, a very small but impressive detail.
In 2003, News-Daily released an article about a new gang that started off as a music group that spiraled into a darker path. If you check out K. Walker’s 2012 We Run Atlanta documentary, he goes to Grove Street and conducts an interview with some of the OG’s and gets the insight on how it transformed from a gang into a mini-movement.
After Waka took off, there was a falling out with Kebo. Flocka pretty much removed himself from his former life and Kebo’s music never took off. It’s been years since I heard anyone repping Hit Squad (or Taliban). I don’t believe Future was ever a part of that gang, he’s from Kirkwood, better known as Lil Mexico or Eastside Atlanta. Plus, I've never seen Future with any green flags or in photos with Kebo, Flocka, or even ever on Grove Street. I also don’t believe he's truly gang-affiliated, the last time a rapper in Atlanta falsely claimed a gang it was Young L.A versus Duct Tape Mafia. False flaggin is not looked upon kindly and there’s been no threats or animosity toward Future by anyone. I found through Twitter that Metro Boomin tweets “Taliban” as a hashtag to end his tweets. I could only find a handful of examples, the earliest one is from 2012 when he tweeted out the “Rubberband Man” lyrics.
Another interesting connection to the Taliban is Future’s DJ Esco. Most Future fans know the story of Esco being imprisoned in Dubai for 56 days and nights in 2014 when Future had a show for Abu Dhabi’s Grand Prix. At the airport, Esco was arrested for marijuana possession. It’s an incredible story, one that I highly recommend you read over at The FADER. During his time there, he met a man that was captured who was actually in the Taliban. Now that’s a plot twist. It’s like gluing a horn on a horse but while you're riding you come across an actual unicorn. His time in prison would eventually inspire the title and mixtape 56 Nights. It’s possible that the influence goes beyond just the title. An experience like that will change your life and everyone around you.
“I'm like, I know I'm gonna be cool with them Africans over there, but I need to make sure I'm cool with the Arabic side too. We had one dude in there who'd been in the Taliban, and he was celebrated. He got caught because he fell asleep when he was supposed to be detonating a tank. He was waiting so long that he fell asleep, and the U.S. found him with this bomb in his hand and he said he got tortured by the CIA for 40-something days. With no clothes on, in the cold. And he never gave no names, so the U.S. let him go. This was his little legend”
Taliban is just another layer of strange that surrounds one of rap's most enigmatic personalities. Since he’s still developing Freeband Gang, I’m certain it’s not another collective or label that he’s branding. Hit Squad Taliban is no longer active to my knowledge—we even contacted the City of Atlanta Gangs Department to see if they counted Hit Squad as an active gang with no result. That’s what happens to cliques, they get old and new kids start new groups and gangs. Future’s videos look nothing like Kebo Gotti’s, he’ll sit at a table in suits with his gang instead of being in the streets waving flags. There’s very little that would lead anyone to believe that Future has any gang affiliations, he keeps everything clean around him.
Still, it’s strange that Taliban Gang is only vocally represented by one person. Who is the we that’s a part of this whole other era that Future speaks of? If I had to guess, it’s Metro Boomin and DJ Esco. These three are thick as thieves, probably have lived through some wild times and actually met someone in the Taliban. We already know how Future feels about those that Metro can’t trust. That level of loyalty is only seen in mafia movies. Whoever the members may be in the gang, "Taliban" is being heard across the nation on the radio as "Jumpman" racks up spin after spin, and it feels like only the beginning.
I guess that would make them the most popular "gang" in the world—Taliban, Taliban.
UPDATE: And just like that, Jonah Hill goes on national TV with Future and shouts out Taliban Gang. You can't make this stuff up.
By Yoh, aka Southside Yoh, aka @Yoh31.