Home is where the heart is - even when home is where drugs are sold, guns are shot, and death dwells wherever light fails to shine. Some people can remove themselves, escape and never look back, but others are drawn to the familiar, always returning to where they shouldn’t. Bobby Shmurda couldn’t let go of home. Even after the fame and money, his former life back in East New York kept calling.
It was recently revealed in a GQ story, entitled “Bobby Shmurda: His Surreal Saga,” that long before the arrest that would destroy his rising music career, Epic Records attempted to remove him from New York. They wanted Bobby out of the city, out of East Flatbush, away from anything linking him to the lifestyle that was described on his breakout song.
While it can be said that Epic Records did little for him behind bars, they tried to do plenty for him when he was free.
Meanwhile, Pollard needed to start recording his debut album. Sha Money tried to persuade him to stay in Los Angeles and get down to business in a studio there. But Pollard didn't like L.A. He arrived late to sessions, Sha Money says: "He didn't work, so it was almost like a waste. When he went to New York, he worked. So I had to go back to New York to record with him there. But I kept telling him: 'Yo, you need to get out the city. Change it up.' And he fought me." Pollard also abandoned the condo in Florida, returning to Brooklyn and his East Flatbush crew. "Bobby was like, 'I don't understand why you won't let me hang out with my friends,' " recalls Flores. "It was a constant battle. Constant." As Pollard began missing show dates and procrastinating on his recording sessions, and as it became clear that the N.Y.P.D. had a keen interest in GS9, Wilson says he grew ever more frustrated. At one point in early September, after the scene with police outside the venue in Queens, Wilson flew back to Florida. He'd had enough. He says he gave Pollard an ultimatum: Come "home" to Miami, get away from the East Flatbush crowd once and for all, and I'll stay on. But Pollard never came.
As you read in the above quote, Sha Money XL encouraged Shmurda to stay in Los Angeles, they rented him a condo in Fort Lauderdale and even tried an ultimatum tactic to make Miami his home. Of course, they were trying to protect their investment.
The old saying is, “The streets keep pulling me back,” and Bobby’s story is that saying personified. More than the streets themselves, the physical places, home is friends and family (and perhaps some enemies disguised as friends), people that you spend your days and nights surrounded by. You might want to leave the hood but you don’t want to leave your people there. What's millions when your brothers are starving?
The story has this weird way of focusing on how Bobby felt about the people around him. It’s hard to tell if he was loyal to his brotherhood of long-term friends or being held captive due to his ties.
Wilson tried one last gambit to extract Pollard from New York. In early September 2014, he tasked Ball with going up to the city and persuading Pollard to come back to Miami. "They sent me there like a Navy SEAL," Ball says. "My mission was to get Bobby out." Ball says he found Pollard holed up at the Times Square Holiday Inn, and he was not alone. "It was like he was kidnapped by Crips," Ball says. "Blue shit everywhere. And everybody was looking at me like: Who the fuck is you?" He pauses. "Don't get me wrong: It looked like that to me. I mean, that was his squad. But it was a whole bunch of new dudes. People I'd never seen." Ball recalls having to pull Pollard, who was clearly exhausted and ill and "coughing up some green shit," into the bathroom. He turned on the water faucet so they could talk without the others hearing. "I was like, 'Bro, you gotta come home.' " Pollard assured him that he would come to Florida soon. He just needed to take care of some things first.
When T.I. used to run in and out of trouble I remember thinking that he was trapped between who he was and who he had the potential to be. That was the genius of splitting his personalities into two separate personas - T.I. versus T.I.P. I think most rappers who emerge from a street lifestyle have to deal with this internal conflict. It’s easy to look on from the outside and call these artists stupid for not taking Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket to a better life and leaving their past behind them. It may seem that simple, but I don’t believe it is. Especially for a kid in his early twenties thrown into the spotlight. Mad cities devour good kids everyday. I'm not saying your environment is an excuse for bad decisions and lawless action, but it’s much more difficult for a flower to blossom when buried deep in the sunless concrete.
Chicago native Chief Keef stayed in trouble after “Don’t Like” exploded on the internet and he signed to Interscope. Now he lives in L.A, in a big house, locked in and locked away from potential trouble. Young Thug is a studio rat but his musical sanctuary is also a place where he’s cannot commit any wrongdoings.
You can probably look at the life of any rapper that comes from the street or a street background and there’s a transformation that has to happen so they can stay out of trouble - from the law, from the haters, from their friends. You don’t blow up and start a new life overnight as if the ghosts from your past won’t find you. Bobby Shmurda’s past is what brought him success and brought his downfall. There was a small window for him to try and really pull himself away, but it's possible that the police arresting him was inevitable. We’ll never know.
The more Bobby’s story unfolds it reminds me of Cain’s final monologue at the end of Menace II Society, “I've done too much to turn back, and I've done too much to go on. I guess in the end it all catches up with you. My grandpa asked me one time if I care whether I live or die. Yeah, I do. Now it's too late.”