Young Buck
The Wild Child
Interview by Vanessa Satten

If any of the G-Unit members had it rough over the last six years, it’s Young Buck. The first to fall out with 50, Buck had been the most vocal against 50 after the breakup. But his own unfortunate luck took precedence over beef with Fif. Though Buck continued to perform and release music during his G-Unit hiatus, bad luck plagued him. In 2010, the Nashville native filed for bankruptcy after the IRS raided his home and seized a bulk of his possessions due to $300,000 in unpaid taxes. During the raid, police found an unregistered gun. Since Buck was already a convicted felon, the discovery of the weapon led to a parole violation, which landed Buck in federal prison for 18 months. Following his release from Yazoo City Low Security Federal Prison in Southern Mississippi last October, Buck has focused on putting his life back in order. Part of that included making amends with his brothers. While relaxing in the mansion’s recording studio, Buck looks at his hard times and breakup of the crew.

XXL: How do you feel about everything so far?
Young Buck: I feel like I’m in a good place. G-Unit, overall as a group and as brothers, we’re in a better space than we’ve ever been. Period.

I think everybody had their own individual situations that they experienced once we were separated. Everybody’s situation kind’ve took a toll on each individual in some kind of way and I think the separation of us...everybody wanted to be back together.

Your biggest outlet for making money is together, right?
Yeah [but] I think our relationship is beyond money. We have a real brotherly, family-connected type of relationship, so it wasn’t the money. It was the destruction of the family part that was more detrimental than anything. But with us being back together and being that we done went through all of that, I think it made us stronger because we know what it’s like to be apart, and separate and go against each other.

So your second album Buck The World came out in 2007 and you started linking with people that 50 wasn't so cool with, right?
It wasn’t that I was linking with people that 50 wasn’t cool with, it was basically individuals that had problems with 50 were basically making their way to me and pushing the line and saying, “We ain’t got a problem with you but we just don’t get along with dude.” That right there was the mix up.

Being part of G-Unit, it would seem like it would be, whoever 50 says "fuck you" to, I say "fuck you" to also. No?
True [but] I was never friends with somebody that didn’t get along with 50 or some shit. It was just more that I was going off into a lane, you know, there were different individuals that were looking to work with me.

So how much could you say no because of his beef, when you didn’t have it?
Right and I got caught in the middle of it.

Did you handle it right?
I think I did handle it right, to the point a sense, my loyalty to 50 and G-Unit is already understood, but at the time when I was entertaining any conversation with someone who didn’t get along with 50, it was in the midst of me and 50’s disagreement.

So what was you and 50’s disagreement over if it wasn’t about loyalty?
Me and 50’s disagreement was pretty much a small thing. I’m a pretty impulsive dude. I’ma do what I wanna do. It was more or less 50 saying, “Don’t do this” and I feel like, “No, I’ma do this.”

You split from G-Unit then struggled with tax and financial issues and went to prison for over a year. What were you thinking while locked up?
I’m thinking, “What the fuck am I doing sitting in here? I’m a fuckin’ platinum artist, I got all this success and now I’m layed up in this fuckin’ prison?” It sank in after two or three months, “I’m not goin’ nowhere, I’m here. [But] I’m gonna be able to get out of here. So let me go ahead and change my mind, my mentality of just sitting in here and being upset, and try to make this time that I have work for me so when I do get out I got something new to give the fans with the music.”

Now you’re finally back with G-Unit, but you have to start rebuilding your own brand. How?
I’ve matured so much from then to now that it’s almost like two different people. As far as the individual, the person that I am, you’re gonna always get that energy, that Young Buck feel from the music. But as a person, I’m just more off into the business side of things. I’m more mature all the way around.

The music content has shifted since G-Unit dominated. It’s not as street as it was and that’s what you specialize in...
It’s a lot of watered down music, you know what I’m saying? Believe it or not, the watered down music is what seems like the record labels are trying to put the marketing dollars behind. But it’s not a day that goes by that I don’t pay attention to that. It’s in the streets, but not no more. This shit is everything other than what it really was built from.

We drove the street, you know what I’m saying? So then when you get G-Unit back together it’s almost a feeling for the streets like, Okay, now we ’bout to get back into position and now we can get the shit back to where it was at. I think that’s what G-Unit does. We provide hope for the streets in a sense and for the guys who are like us, as well as the guys who are not like us that’s just off into G-Unit because they know it’s the real over here. They’re able to get what they getting visually. They might not come from the environment we come from but we’ve become their favorite because they get to hear the real deal of what’s going on.

So I think as far as G-Unit goes, we rebirthed the streets. It’s almost a rebirth to hip-hop and the streets. We’ve been gone for a minute and being away allowed all these demographics, all these different types of artists and their music to get in middle, and some of these guys...I don’t knock ’em, but some of the music that’s out is just not the type of music that I’m a fan of. In the same breath, I think a lot of those guys that are even winning with the watered down music, they’re even excited for G-Unit.

So, for you, was it really ever,Fuck G-Unit? Fuck 50?” At your worst, was it, “Fuck him?”
Honestly, I never blamed 50 for my financial problems. I ain’t never felt like, “Fuck that nigga,” because he actually helped me a couple times dealing with the tax situation before I even got into that. So I never looked at it as like, “Ah, fuck him.” Nah, I looked at it like, “That nigga told me this shit would happen.”

So what happened with you and money? You’ve been through money troubles over the past seven issues, you spending too much, what happened?
My money issues came about...I had created a tax debt and, at the time, the tax debt that I created... Me and 50 were separated. My income was lighter. So I get hit with the tax thing after. I just ain’t have money coming in that much to the point it was like, “Oh shit.”

But also let’s be real, you were spending money, living the rapper life. Did that catch up with you?
Of course! At the time, I was young, I got a lot of money, quick. The experience that an individual would have that never came in contact with a million dollars... For me it was like, boom. When I got a hold of the money, I wild the fuck out. I went and bought cars, houses, mom’s stuff, bought everything I should’ve had and bought all the stuff I shouldn’t have had, too.

I went to your house in Nashville and you had clear furniture. You had an all white room with a spinning display case holding a bag with fake diamonds cascading out.
You feel me? My furniture cost a $100,000 just alone. Like I said, my whole thing at the time was, “Man, I made it.”

So you did 18 months in federal prison. Who held you down there?
I held myself down in prison. Of course you got your Crips, they gonna always be where I’m at and then the Bloods too, they held me down. I was an individual where, you know, it’s kinda crazy but, especially being in prison, but overall niggas fuck with Buck, you know what I’m saying? So I didn’t have to go through the bullshit in there and all that shit. Niggas know what’s up.

So you’re out a year. Are you impressed with the moves you’ve made in 12 months?
Ya damn right. I think I’m doing damn good.

What do you chalk that up to?
The reason I say [that] is because I came home to pretty much nothing.

Literally though, what did you come home to? Did you come home to a house? Did you come home to a car? The day you got out, what did you come home to?
The day I came out, I went to my partna’s spot.

So who picked you up?
My partnas came and got me from prison, my homeboys. My homeboys brought my mother and my children. But from there, even then I didn’t have a home. I lost everything. I lost my house. My mother lost her house. I lost everything. So coming out of prison, I didn’t have nothing. I had a lot of dudes in prison before I was goin that was saying, “I’ma do this, I’ma do that.” The reality and the truth of me going to prison, I didn’t receive no kind of individual support from a rapper or whatever, a Free Buck [campaign] or none of that shit. I wasn’t lookin’ for none of that shit.

Well, you weren’t gonna get the Tony Yayo treatment; you weren’t cool with the Big Homie.
Nah, I don’t look at it like that. Not just because of Big Homie. I’m from the South, he from here, it’s a whole ’notha market of artists that play a part in my career and life even before G-Unit, and a lot of people and artists that I had real relationships with at that time that I valued that I thought would at least…

You realized it’s a bunch of bullshit?
Yeah, and I’m cool with it, you know what I’m sayin? I know now. But 50 used to try to tell me this shit then...I just didn’t get it. I get it now.

People are disappointments?
Right. I’m not gonna say anti-social but it’s just that I fuck with my brothers. I fuck with 50, Banks, Yayo, Kidd Kidd and I got a few other partnas that’s in this rap game.

So you have a lot of pressure. You’re 33, you’re not going to get another shot, probably. How do you handle the pressure? How do you keep yourself from going back to the way you were?
It’s simple, for me. That’s the simplest thing. The character of who I was and what I was, it has a lot to do with age. I’ve matured in age, but at the same time with saying that, a lot of people, a lot of different types of individuals I choose to just disassociate myself with. So a lot of things like that play a big part. Making smart moves, better decisions and just being more on the business side. But I’ve been out of prison not even 12 months and I’ve already got a restaurant, three, four day cares and four or five different properties.

When you were young with the money, none of that was in your head? It was just fun?
It was just the fun. But now, it’s about tomorrow. It’s about building for tomorrow. For me, I’m off into that kick.