Tab “Turk” Virgil first hit the national hip-hop scene in 1998 when a budding New Orleans rap label called Cash Money began to make a major name for itself with the four-MC super-group The Hot Boys. Over the next three years the HB’s, along with Cash Money, toured around the country and sold over 10 million group and solo albums before CMR began to fall apart due to internal drama.
In January 2004, Turk was arrested during an early morning drug raid in Memphis where two members of the Tennessee SWAT team were shot and wounded. The then 22-year-old Hot Boy was initially charged with both shootings, but it was later proven that one of the officers was hit by friendly fire. In August of 2005, Turk was convicted of three counts of unlawful transport of a firearm. He was fined $200,000 and sentenced to ten years in prison, where he is currently waiting on an appeal. Turk, who maintains his innocence, is still facing an attempted murder charge for the 2004 incident. XXLMAG.COM recently spoke to Turk from the Shelby County Jail, where he weighed in on his career, drugs and recent beef between former Hot Boys.
What do you think of what has been going on with your former label mates?
I just seen [that] B.G. and Mannie Fresh did a collaboration together. Mannie Fresh’s been working with Juvenile. I talk to B.G. I talk to Mannie Fresh a lot and they just doin’ they thang. I talk to Lil Wayne, Baby and them. I’m cool with everybody. There’s just a lot of misunderstanding going on. In every family they have fights and it always take one person in the family to bring it back. When I get out and my situation’s over, that’s what I wanna do—bring peace. I wanna see us do a Hot Boys reunion.
Speaking of a Hot Boys reunion, B.G., Juvenile and Mannie Fresh have reportedly been planning one.
It wouldn’t be no Hot Boy reunion without four of us. There wouldn’t be no Hot Boy reunion with somebody else trying to replace somebody. When I say Hot Boy reunion I mean all of us together in one mind, one place, doing our thang again. Everybody really just growing up and experiencing things on they own right now.
Did you get to hear any of the diss songs that have been going on with B.G and Wayne?
I heard “Trigga Man.” I heard a couple songs from Lil Wayne. They just goin’ through a thang right now, but it’s gonna stop. Every beef gotta get squashed somehow and that’s gonna end up with a peaceful shake-off.
When Cash Money was at its height, did you ever think that things would end up like this for all of you?
I’m surprised by it. When you doing your thing, you’re blinded to the things that could happen. You blinded to the consequences. I never thought that I’d be in the predicament that I’m in. I never thought that we would ever break up ’cause we were so close. I mean, all us got each other’s names tattooed on our bodies, so it was real love. It’s still love, it’s just going in the opposite direction right now. We gotta stop blaming [each other] for all our actions and come together like men.
Were you surprised when Mannie left the label?
Yeah I was surprised—I still kinda don’t believe [it]. That was a shock. Mannie Fresh was like 70 percent [of what was] holding Cash Money up. Without Mannie Fresh, I know [there] will be a future for Cash Money, but I don’t think it’ll be the same. Without Mannie Fresh or all of us still there, it’ll never be 100 percent. But all of us are talented, [so] anywhere we go, we have a bright future as long as we keep our head focused. But it’d be better if we were together.
What’s it like trying to stay a rapper while you’re locked up?
In order for me to stay focused, I gotta stay on top of my game by writing everything and recording—that’s easy. I record over the phone or any kind of way that I [can]. I make it happen. I done did two albums from back here. I stay focused and get motivated off of prisoners that’s already in the system. [Recently] I dropped Still a Hot Boy. Real hot. I got Bun B on my first single called “Calling Out” and I got Chamillionaire and a couple more cats out here in Memphis.
There were always rumors that you struggled with drugs. What was the truth about that?
It’s no rumor. Heroin and cocaine—I did it for eight years straight and I’ve been clean right now for two years. I’ve had a lot of time to think about my life. This was a wake-up call for me to think about who I am, because when I was rapping and living that life I couldn’t see what I see now.
Were you addicted the whole time you were with Cash Money?
Yeah, I was addicted. I was on it bad, but I didn’t look at it like that when I was out there. I was doing my thing and it’s hard to see when you livin’ the life and everything going good. When stuff starts hittin’ the fan, you start losing things and losing people. Then you start realizin’, I gotta stop this or this gonna be the ’cause of me losin’ my career or losin’ my life.
How do you think it affected your career?
It affected my career ’cause [there were] times where I ain’t want to show up for no interviews. I didn’t wanna show up for no studio or 106 & Park. But I was young then and I done grown up [in] these two years. Jail gonna make you either a boy or a man and it made me a man. I know that I’m over my addiction. If I wanted to get high, it’s easier to get it in jail than on the streets. If you check yourself, ain’t no way you can fall off. That’s what I decided to do: be sincere with myself.
Do you feel you were easily manipulated by people because you had an addiction?
When you high, you easily manipulated by anything—not just people—because you not in your right mind. The drug is pimpin’ you. It ain’t just a man pimpin’ a woman or a woman pimpin’ a man. Drugs is pimpin’ people too because it’s makin’ them do anything. It’s makin’ them miss out on things that they love to do and that’s how I was until I got in jail. My past is my past. If I could change it I would but I can’t. All I can do is make it better for me and make it better for my son and make it better for the next person behind me.