Turk Talks Being Released From Prison, Possible Hot Boys Reunion and New Mixtape
Eight years, eight months and 16 days. That’s the time Turk spent in prison after being found guilty of shooting members of the Memphis, Tennessee S.W.A.T. team during a 2004 raid. The latter part of the nearly nine-year sentence was especially rough, as the former member of the Cash Money Hot Boys lost his younger brother and manager, both victims to shootings. Turk wasn't allowed to attend either funeral. However, the dark days are over. That's because, at about 7 a.m. on Friday (October 12), Turk, real name Tab Virgil Jr., finally walked through the doors of the Forrest City Arkansas Federal Prison as a free man. Here, just over three days since being released from prison, the former core member of the Hot Boys (with Lil Wayne, Juvenile and B.G.) talks about being free, a possible reunion with Cash Money and the Hot Boys, his upcoming mixtape, the T.H.U.G.G.I.N. movement and hitting the studio for the first time in nearly nine years. It's a new day!—Mark Lelinwalla
XXL: First and foremost, welcome home. How are you feeling?
Turk: Man, it’s a blessing. It’s overwhelming to get out after eight years, eight months and 16 days and come out to so much love and be around family and friends that really care about you as a person and not the artist. It’s a blessing.
You just said eight years, eight months and 16 days. What was it like to finally get out and breathe that fresh air?
That feeling was like a dream, like how you wake up from a dream that was almost too good to be true and you try to go back to sleep and get in that same dream. That’s how it felt when I walked out those doors and when my girl ran and hollered and hugged me…jumped in my arms. I’m 31 now. I went in when I was 22. I’ve been saying, ‘I’m free’ for the last 72 hours. ‘I’m free! I’m finally free!’ It’s a blessing and a miracle, man and I’m glad that I’m able to share it with the people who love me.
What was the very first thing you did when you got out?
The very first thing I did, man, was I came home and I took me a hot bath because I didn’t take a hot bath in all that time. I took me a bubble bath. I had to get in that bathtub and I had to get me some home-cooked chicken.
What’s your plan? What’s in the works for Turk?
My plan is to get back around the people that I was around before I left, which were the industry people. I did a book, an autobiography of my life. It’s called the AutoThugography of Turk. I wrote a screenplay called Reckless about my life. I put out a double CD called the AudioThugography of Turk. I’m working on a mixtape, I’m in talks for a reality show—Make Love, Make Money—with me and my fiancée, just showing the YNT Empire, the Made Woman Movement. We just pushing, man. Working, working. From the fashion to the movies to the books and the music…everything entertainment, I have my hand in it.
You were, of course, a core member of Cash Money’s Hot Boyz group with B.G., Lil Wayne and Juvenile. Have you spoken to anybody from Cash Money since your release?
I’m taking time to spend with my family, talking to my son a lot and spending time with my fiancée and calling a lot of my friends and speaking to my mother-in-law, father-in-law and grandma. Just the family right now, but later this week, I’ll get in touch with everybody I need to get in touch with as far as the industry. But right now, it’s God, family, then business.
In your time behind bars, Cash Money has become arguably the best movement in hip-hop. Were you able to follow their rise at all?
I followed Wayne, Baby, Slim because that’s all we do in prison—read and study. You can’t help but notice somebody who is making noise and being successful. I was very inspired by them, knowing where we come from and seeing their drive. I saw them changing and becoming what God wanted them to be and I have nothing but respect for their movement.
Did anyone from Cash Money reach out to you during your bid and, ideally, if the situation presents itself, would you love to sign back with the home team?
I’m always open to that. That’s an option. I’ve talked to Baby on several occasions while I was incarcerated. I’ve talked to Lil Wayne. Wayne sent me money. I talked to B.G., but unfortunately he was locked up when I came out. I spoke to Juve, Mannie Fresh, everybody. It’s all love. We’re gonna sit down, chop it up as men and see what the future got for us. But right now, it’s about that YNT Empire—Young N Thuggin. I’m pushing on my own right now because a man gotta stand on his own, but I’m looking forward to working with the whole industry. It’s all love.
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It’s only been slightly more than three days, but have you made it back in the studio yet?
I did my first song in almost nine years last night (October 14) out here with one of the artists—Don Trip, y’all probably heard of him. I was in the studio with him last night. Me and him about to do a mixtape together. We go way back, when he first signed his deal and I had come to Memphis, me and him connected. We reunited last night on his video set and we went to the studio.
How did that feel?
It’s love, man. He’s like my little brother and part of my family, so it was only right for me to go in that studio for the first time in all those years. We did a song called “Put ’Em on Blast.” When I seen people boppin’ their heads in the studio, I said to myself, ‘I still got my swag. It’s time to turn up!’ It was motivation that I still got it. It was reassurance. I knew I still had it within myself, but to see people feel the same way I feel, it was confirmation. It came from my heart, you know what I’m saying. “Put ’Em on Blast.”
“Put ’em on blast/they put me through a test, but you know a nigga passed/last night, cried/now I’m gonna put ’em on blast/Yeah, you started first, but you finished dead last/Now, I got your ass/I’m gonna put you on blast/Put ’em on…p-p-p put ’em on blast.”
You’re sounding good, man.
That’s just the chorus. I’m just talking about my situation and how I had time and how I overcame that time. Look at me now, I’m doing my thing again. They’re gonna hear it soon. But I’m about to do a mixtape, Make Love, Make Money, Turk and Emany. So, y’all with hear that soon, as well as the mixtape me and Don Trip are doing, and features on a new artist’s music.
How did you spend your days incarcerated?
I’m gonna keep it all the way, 10 times a hundred. My timing was up and down. I had times when I was stressed and times when I was depressed. There was times when I was hungry, times when I was motivated to work, times when I was inspired. It was just up and down. But my last year, it kind of put me in perspective of, ‘Okay, now I gotta do what I gotta do.’ I lost my little brother. My little brother got killed in 2010, my manager wound up getting killed 2011 and my little cousin got killed. They were all shot. I was like, ‘I gotta break that cycle and make good choices. Man, I gotta get home, get my focus on. I can’t have these up-and-down emotions. I have to stay focused to do what I have to for my family and friends because they dying out here. I can’t get out here and do the same things I was doing. I gotta be an example and take hardship and use God’s gift in spite of negativity.’
How tough is it to deal with the loss of loved ones behind bars?
It’s very tough and when it happens close to you, that’s when it really touches you. My baby brother…I had just talked to him and a couple of days later after him telling me about his mixtape called Life Without Water, it didn’t don on me till a couple of days after he was killed that nothing in this world could live without water. It was a tough pill to swallow because I couldn’t attend the funeral. I wrote a letter and my fiancée went down and read it for me, but it was still very hard to deal with it, not being able to comfort my mama and be there for my family. I done seen other mothers cry, but when your mama cry…it hurts. When she cried, it made me cry. My brother’s name was Ronald Smith, he was 23-year-old and an upcoming artist. I have a lot of his music that I’m gonna put out and dedicate to his life.
You mentioned your fiancée. What does it mean to you that she held you down and stuck by your side?
It means the world to me. She was there by my side.
Anything else that you’d like to mention?
I’m starting this foundation—T.H.U.G.G.I.N. Foundation. When people hear that, they might think something negative, but I sat down and came up with the acronym for it—Taking Hardships Using God’s Gift In [Spite of] Negativity.