Former Cash Money Hot Boy “Young Turk” is hitting the ground running and not wasting a minute getting back on his grind, after spending the better half of the last decade in a federal prison.
Incarcerated from an incident which left his two-bedroom apartment riddled with bullets from a shootout with cops, the rapper says he used his time to go to war with his own demons and become the man he was called to be. Now he’s free, and he has chronicled his journey in a book and screenplay. Turk spoke with AllHipHop.com about the police, who his real friends are, and his gratitude to God for his road to redemption:
AllHipHop.com: Welcome home!
Turk: Fa sho. That’s what’s up.
AllHipHop.com: When you first came home, I noticed within the first 72 hours you had a post up of you at church. Was that a pact you made with God?
Turk: You know, when you goin' through them transitions, and you been in the Pen or anything that’s humbling, you gonna seek and get low - and that’s what happened. You know, I’ve always believed in God; that ain’t something that just happened. I just got closer to Him, and I know I can’t do nothing without Him 'cause I know how good he’s been in my life.
I said the first thing I’m gonna do is go to church, and I went this Sunday and I’m going every Sunday no matter where I’m at. If I got a show somewhere, I’m gonna find somebody’s church. Church is just the building, though. Church is in your heart. It's in saying my prayers, and reading my Word every morning I wake up, and me and my girl, we pray together, ya know? They say a family that prays together stays together.
AllHipHop.com: You mentioned your girl. Did she go through your whole time with you?
Turk: Yeah, she did the whole time. She was coming to visitation, getting searched and stripped, whatever she had to go through to see me. Going to courthouses, visiting lawyers, going to the appeals courts - everything I was doing on the inside she was doing on the outside. So, it's like we both were locked up for eight years, eight months, and 16 days, so I thank God for her.
AllHipHop.com: Let’s rewind for those who don’t know exactly what happened to you. What were you charged with?
Turk: I had possession of a firearm and attempted murder in 2004, and one thing led to another, and its almost been nine years, and it's old. It’s something I wrote about in my book; it was a time in my life when I was just goin' through certain things, and I had to suffer the consequences of when that occurred.
But I’m past it now, and you're not supposed to look backwards, and I’d rather not talk about it, because I documented it in my book. And every question that a person would have about that situation is in the book exclusive. They can get it and read it over and over again, and they can hear it on audio if they want. As far as me speaking about it, I believe that the power of life and death is in the tongue, and so me speaking on the past, I don’t want the past to come back and haunt me.
AllHipHop.com: When is your book coming out?
Turk: It’s coming out next year. We’re in negotiations with a few people; we’re just waiting on that big check, whoever cuts that big check. We aren’t gonna go with just anybody, though. That’s why it's exclusive; everybody’s been asking and trying to get the scoop, but I can’t give everything.
AllHipHop.com: Is Baby’s publishing company one of the company’s your in talks with?
Turk: Like I said, I’m in talks with whoever sees my vision and is not gonna try to edit my words out. I don’t want it to be changed, so whoever can see that vision, that’s who I’m going with and whoever cuts the big check.
AllHipHop.com: I understand you want to save it all for the book, but I have to know what was going through your mind with SWAT beating on your door and bullets flying everywhere. What were you feeling?
Turk: It’s crazy, scary, all that, because you never know who’s who or what’s what. But like I say, you gotta get the book, 'cause if I told you, I’d ruin it.
AllHipHop.com: We often here of the gang life in jail. Did you ever get caught up in any of that?
Turk: Nah, I’m too much of a boss to be affiliated with anything. If anything, people be affiliated with me, and that’s this YNT, Young N Thuggin Empire, where visions get inspired. So, for me to just follow the leader, I would never do that. I’m the leader.
AllHipHop.com: Did you keep in contact with Baby and Wayne?
Turk: I really was just doing my time. Here and there, I’d hit them up and talk to them, but I know they was out grinding. And I talk to a few other artists as well, just to keep that inspiration and motivation going as well, 'cause you need to hear other people doing good things in order to stay focused - because you’ll be miserable in there if you don’t have some type of enlightenment.
AllHipHop.com: Did any of your celebrity friends write or put money on your books?
Turk: Yeah, my n*gga T.I., Rocko, Trae Tha Truth, Paul Wall, Lil Wayne, Juvenile, BG. You know, free BG, before he got locked up, he was holding me down, keeping it 10 times 100. It was a lot of people, man. Waka Flocka, people just respecting me, people I ain’t even know personally. Just outta respect and 'cause they real n*ggas, they reached out to me with love. Like I say, it all goes back to God’s favor.
AllHipHop.com: Do you feel like you would’ve ever kicked your drug habit had you not went to jail?
Turk: Sad to say, but no. I don’t think I would’ve ever stopped, because I had plenty opportunity to stop. I’ve been in plenty of rehabs. I been incarcerated but not did time in New Orleans, and everytime I say I’m gonna stop and come home and do it again, and it wouldn’t take a week or two.
This time, I been home two weeks, and I ain’t done nothing. I been clean nine years, but I been clean two weeks on the street, and I know that I can handle it now, 'cause I would've been did it. My mind is made up; I’m a changed man now. I know who I am now. I know how many people are affected by my actions, so I watch what I do and watch what I say and keep it movin'.
When I first went to jail, I was an immature young dude trying to find himself, having an identity crisis. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a rapper or a drug addict. But now, I know that I’m a businessman, I’m a father, I’m about to be a husband, I’m about to get married. I’m a big brother; I’m an inspiration to people. I’m a chosen vessel, so now, I’m more responsible and focused on what I have to do.
AllHipHop.com: So, having gone through all that and based on your personal change, how does it make you feel to hear Lil Wayne and others glorify gang life in their music, and is your music gonna change?
Turk: Nah, nah, it ain’t gonna change my music, because like I say, everybody gotta go through their own personal experiences. And I don’t knock nobody for what they do, and I don’t judge anybody, 'cause I did what I did. But it comes a time when your gonna be held accountable for it, so before someone becomes accountable, I try to tell them just what it is and what it ain’t. I’m gonna be straight up with em like six o'clock.
But gang life, drug life, any kind of life that’s not pleasing in God's eyesight, you gonna have to suffer for it. I don’t want to sound all 'holier than thou,' but you gotta respect the laws, because EVERYTHING is governed by law. And you gotta respect that, or you will eventually suffer the consequences, because it’s real.
AllHipHop.com: What do you think about BG’s sentence?
Turk: I mean, BG, that’s my guy; it's just his time to transition. He’s got to go through his trials and tribulations. It's time for him to clean up and get his mind right and his heart right. Line his heart and his mind up together, 'cause he’s a good dude. He’s a giving dude; I got nothing but love for BG. There’s plenty days I called him, and he did what he said he was going to do - not only for me, but for anybody I asked him to do it for, know what I’m saying?
He came and did a show for me and gave me all the proceeds. A lot of people wouldn’t have done that. But he came and did that, and I’ll return the favor being the type of person I am and support his "Free BG" movement, and prayerfully, he’ll be out here sooner than later. I had 22 years and gave 12 years back by the grace of God, and he got 14 years,so maybe he’ll do two more years and come back home. But you gotta have your heart and your mind right. If you don’t have that, it's gonna be confusion, so we just gonna push like that.
AllHipHop.com: When you heard the judge say your sentence is 22 years of your life, did you think you were going to possibly die in jail?
Turk: No, that wasn’t my thought. I didn’t see no time; I saw a fight, and I knew from my studying that there’s a possibility that I could be found guilty. But it's also possible for me to get my time overturned on appeal, because the higher courts deal with the law, and the law says I’m innocent but morally to some people, I’m guilty. Morally to me, I’m innocent. I just thank God that there are some people who are honest in some things and allowed me to get that time back to be out here, talking to y'all today, because the court system is wicked.
AllHipHop.com: Well, you clearly have some Godly protection over your life, because I read there were approximately 168 bullet holes in your walls.
Turk: Man, I’m just gonna say I was blessed. A person might not understand why I talk about God so hard when I do interviews, because you have these so-called rappers and they hard. I was a hard rapper, too, but at the end of the day, I know how to get soft for God, 'cause He is real.
That’s why I respect DMX; he talks about God a lot, and I understand him and I am looking forward to one day working with him, because we relate to one another. We went on tour during the Rough Rider tour, but we never got a chance to talk. But hearing his story and seeing his struggles, we went through the same thing; mine just wasn’t televised until I caught this charge. But I’m here for him if he ever needs me to be.
Check for new projects from Young Turk. His upcoming album, the Blame It on the System mixtape with Drumma Boy, and his Thugology book and screenplay are all slated for release in 2013.