Original Hot Boy Turk Has A Renewed Passion To Run The Rap Game

Back in 2004, I was a novice to the printing and magazine industry hoping to launch something amazing. I had a pocket full of ideas and a concept, which led me to rapper, Turk née Tab Virgil, then signed to Koch Records. They wanted to put him on my cover and essentially set me up with my first interview, with an artist who has sold millions of records through Cash Money Records, as part of the hit-making crew, the Hot Boys and as a solo artist as well. As a Hip-Hop afficionado, I was very familiar with the rapper and could spit back his verses on various Cash Money classics. Just like that I had locked up my first major artist and my first cover story for what I had dubbed, ‘Not Your Average Magazine.’ Then I found out Turk would be doing the interview from prison, as he was dealing with a federal term for a shooting in his home in Memphis. Just like that my excitement faded

My heart sunk. Not because it would affect my cover in anyway, but because at the time I was a student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice so I knew a thing or two about the legal system. And more importantly, I knew enough about Black history to know that any man in prison for shooting a white officer in a small town in Memphis had a hundred and one more problems that needed tending to more than marketing and promoting a new album, which is what Turk was conducting the interview for.

When I finally talked to Turk I remember him being in great spirits, excited for his album, ironically titled, Penitentiary Chances. He was confident that he would be back on the streets in a matter of months. The case, he said, was filled with holes and his appeal was sure to get him off the hook. The specifics of the case, I won’t dwell on too long, but essentially, Turk and his then girlfriend, were involved in a police raid for drugs and guns. According to Turk, the police didn’t announce their arrival and just bust through the door. Thinking he was being ambushed by street thugs, Turk grabbed his lady, making sure she was safely under the bed. Then he grabbed his guns and hid in the closet, ready to let off on whoever. The scene played out like a movie and in an intense exchange of bullets.  When the smoke cleared the sheriff deputy was shot in the neck. Turk and his lady were unharmed, but they were taken into custody. The charges against him, second degree attempted murder. And being a felon in possession of a firearm and an unlawful user addicted to a controlled substance in possession of a firearm. His defense, unlawful entry and the shot that injured the sheriff deputy was fired by one of the other cops.

My debut issue of Parlé went off without a hinge, released May 4, 2004. I kept in touch with Turk and his girlfriend, Erica, as best as I could over the years, interviewing them both periodically just to check in and to acknowledge where and how I got my start. One thing about the pair, regardless of what was going on, they seemed to be the most confident people I’ve ever met. Confident about their love for each other, confident that Turk was coming home, confident that all would work out for the best. After years of appeals and transfers to different prisons, Turk finally did make it home last year, serving almost 9 years. His girlfriend Erica, is still by his side, now as his wife. And music is still his passion.

I got in touch with Turk the first opportunity that presented itself, to talk to the rapper about the past, present and the future. Not surprisingly, Turk is still the most confident man you’ll ever speak to. And now that he’s home, he’s switching his focus from appeals and coming home to making hit records and creating a fan base among those who may have forgotten him and those who never got to know him.

Turk calls the time in prison a “rollercoaster” ride of ups and downs, emotionally and mentally. Not having his family and friends around was draining and the appeals process was constantly stressful, but he says his bit of Hot Boy fame was actually helpful through his time, earning him a bit of leverage with fellow inmates and guards.

Turk gives thanks to God for giving him faith and comfort throughout the process. Without a doubt he also mentioned his wife for helping keep him afloat. He calls her, his “soulmate.”

“I won the appeal off the 22 years, I ended up doing 8 years, 8 months, 16 days,” Turk explains of the complicated legalities of his release last October. “I gave 12 years back on the attempted murder and I ended up getting probation for five years. It was like my sentences ran concurrent and I got out on time served.”

Once released, after seeing friends, family and catching up with his loved ones, Turk almost instantly got back into the studio to record new music. Earlier this year he released his first round of new music since his release in the form of a mixtape, the DJ Holiday hosted, Blame It On The System. The album is filled with artists who have been part of his career as well as some new faces, including Lil’ Wayne, B.G., Juvenile, Gunplay, Gudda Gudda and Dee1. While he continues to hold close ties to his Cash Money beginnings, he is currently working on his own imprint, The Y-N-T Empire (Young-n-Thuggin’).

Towards the end of my latest chat with Turk, I asked him about the past, before prison, before he even left Cash Money. Wayne was a strong supporter for Turk while he was in prison, but it comes as no surprise to Turk the success that his Hot Boy brethren found, knowing he was on a similar path of success back then as well. “I watched Baller Blockin’ last,” Turk recalled, referring to the movie Cash Money produced back in the last 90’s featuring all of the members of the Hot Boys. “I got a lot of good looks from that movie and a lot of good connections, after that movie I was supposed to take off. But I was addicted to heroin and cocaine and that held me back. That’s the only thing that I really regret in life, but that is the reason I’m the young man I am today. In spirituality eyes, I can’t regret nothing, but in the physical I regret being reckless and not doing what I was supposed to.”

Turk has an opportunity to make up for it now. With the worst of days behind him, music can be his renewed focus. No telling where his Empire will take him, but having all the confidence in the world, and a pocket full of faith, Turk’s success is almost a sure thing.

Blame It On The System is available online now. Download it here.  Catch Turk on twitter at @TurkMrYNT

Free B.G.


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Kevin Benoit

Kevin Benoit graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2007 with a Bachelors of Science in Legal Studies. Empowering the urban community has been a goal for Kevin Benoit for the past 8 years. As a freshman in college, in May of 2004, Benoit created Parlé Magazine, an urban entertainment magazine that focused on literacy through entertainment. The publication has since provided a stepping-stone for many individuals throughout the country, from teens to adults and continues to provide inspiration for inspiring entrepreneurs, writers, photographers and graphic designers. Read more articles by Kevin.

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