Take cover—Gunplay is back. After serving house arrest following an October arrest on an outstanding robbery warrant, the attention-grabbing MMG rapper is finally free. While he awaits trial in February and a potential prison stay, the Florida native isn’t looking to slow down his musical output one bit. Just recently, he released his comeback mixtape Cops N Robbers, featuring a blend of old and new tracks, with features from his Maybach familia, Pusha T, Trina and more. Less than a week after the project’s release, Gunplay is also looking to finally drop his Bogota mixtape, which will serve as the official predecessor to his forthcoming Def Jam solo debut, Medellin. Speaking to XXL, the MMG foot soldier gives some details on Bogota, expectations for Medellin, lessons learned since becoming a signed artist and more. —Ralph Bristout (@RalphieBlackmon)

You’ve been under a lot of controversy since that infamous BET incident with 50 Cent. How did that affect your recording process for Cops N Robbers?

I started to see things from a consumer’s standpoint. If I hear a nigga just got jumped, held his own and a week later turned himself in on an armed robbery charge, I want to hear what the fuck he’s got to say. I don’t give a fuck what the situation is, I just want to hear what this nigga be talkin’ bout. So, I ain’t want to miss that window of opportunity with just being stagnant and going through the case and having that as an excuse not to put out music. Because I hate excuses—I don’t give them, and I don’t want them given to me. So, I don’t give the consumer no excuse.

So during those moments, you were still recording?

Yeah, I just made sure that we was knockin’ out joints—freestyles, original records, features—during the time that I had to stand still on house arrest. I wanted to make sure I give [the fans] what they want. The new fans, the old fans—you always gotta give them new material. I was in jail and I was thinking about it. I was like, “Man, I need to go ahead on and come out with this next mixtape when I come out and capitalize on this and let them hear my music, because at the end of the day, that’s all I really want to be known for: my good music.”

It seems like the controversy has clogged up your image for a bit. Did that bother you?

The controversy, yeah. My reputation precedes me and so does the controversy. But at the end of the day, as long as I’ve got that fire music—that good quality music—you stay relevant.

Now the tape has about 17 tracks. How many tracks did you originally record? Were you splitting songs—say one goes to Cops N Robbers and another goes in the batch for Medellin?

When I was on the run, I was recording a lot. So, I’ve still got records that I ain’t released. I really recorded my album when I was on the run. I got all that material just in case I couldn’t come back out. I would’ve had all that material. I still ain’t put it out. The only records that I did leak were “Drop,” “Definition of a Plug” and “Rap Sheet.” Those were the records that was off my album, I just leaked those three. I’ve got plenty more.

Aside from the album, I remember the last time we spoke you were plugging your Bogota project. What’s the status of that? Will it be a mixtape or EP?

Man, I’ve been promoting Bogota for damn near a year [Laughs]. When I drop that, that’s when you’re gonna know my album comin’ because it’s all gonna be original tracks. Records that I [already] recorded for my album now, I’m gonna put them for Bogota, for my mixtape, just to say fuck it. Then make a whole new batch now that [I’m off] house arrest and really get back to work.

So it’s all going to be original records, no freestyles?

Yeah. Remember how Drake did it? His mixtape sounded like an album? He had all them dope features and shit, like, “God damn—what the fuck?!” That’s how my shit gonna sound. Big production, big features, a straight-up masterpiece.

So Cops N Robbers is sort of an appetizer for these two forthcoming projects?

See, this little bump in the road just threw me off. It was a couple months there, which made a delay on shit so in the meantime I had to give ’em this one—the Cops N Robbers. I’m gonna get back to work on that Bogota so when they hear that shit they gonna be like, “Okay—yeah.” And I’ve been promoting it forever, so I think it’s gonna be a really big mixtape. I think it’s really gonna make some noise.

You signed a deal with Def Jam last year. How’s it feel to be signed as a solo act and not part of your group, Triple C’s?

Accomplished, halfway. A nigga been doing this for a while. I don’t put much expectation out there, so when it doesn’t happen, I don’t feel bad—you know what I’m sayin’? I just follow my dreams and keep hope alive and all that, but I never really thought this shit was gonna really pan out. A nigga’s just gonna find a way to really eat out here, one way or another. This is an industry where a lot of fuck niggas get deals and after a while you just say, “You know what—fuck it, I’m just not gonna get a deal because I’m not a fuck nigga.” [Laughs] So then, I kind of gave up, like, “I’m just gonna keep it in these streets. If I can make $10–15,000 a month just in these streets, just off of little shit, I’ll do it, man.” But then all that work caught up to a nigga, then a nigga got a deal and I felt accomplished. Like, “Hey, mom—look!” I now can call my mom and tell her something good went down. [Laughs]

What are your plans for Medellin?

When I did those first preliminary records, I was just doing it, capturing the moment. Just putting it on record. But when I do my album, I don’t want to overthink it, but I just want to sit down and really create. I don’t want too many features, I want that shit to just be great music by itself and [then add the] features later.

What have you learned about the industry since being signed to a major label?

The industry is so made-up and smoke-and-mirrors. You just have to be yourself and let them know that you’re not perfect. Because a lot of people aren’t perfect; nobody’s perfect. Niggas fart and shit. [Laughs] I’m that voice—that’s me right there. I’ll let the perfect people do what they do. They’re good at it. They’re good at being perfect, they’re good at having their life look spotless to the media. I don’t have that luxury or luck.

What’s the best advice Ross gave you while you were on house arrest?

“Man—fuck all these niggas, man. Fuck ’em. Get your shit, man. Fuck everybody. Don’t love none of these niggas—do you with a cold heart.” That was his advice.