Rappers rarely get a second chance at career success, and Young Buck is seizing the opportunity. As a member of G-Unit, Young Buck helped put Southern hip-hop on the map with his two celebrated albums—2004’s Straight Outta Cashville and 2007’s Buck the World. During the heyday of the Unit, Buck was a loyal soldier, bringing his wild energy to the Queens-bred crew and scoring legions of fans in the process. Yet at your highest moments, missteps can be catastrophic. In Buck’s case, after tensions with 50 Cent, he was kicked out of the group, like Game, and fell into a stagnant solo career. Then, while the rapper was going through a bankruptcy case rooted in G-Unit contract disputes, he got locked up for 18 months for 2010 weapons charges as a convicted felon. All signs pointed to Buck being out of the rap game for good.
But things are looking up now. Buck is back with G-Unit again, officially reuniting with his brothers at Summer Jam last year. There are two EPs—The Beauty of Independence and The Beast Is G-Unit—and plenty of more music from each member on the horizon. Above all the music endeavors, Buck is diving into the literary world with his upcoming book, Behind the Walls. The self-penned memoir digs into his hardships—departure from G-Unit, life in prison, reconciling with 50 Cent, and career rebirth. We caught up with Buck while he was out in Los Angeles to talk about what to expect from Behind the Walls, the pressures to succeed now, and plans to write another book this year.
Eric Diep is a writer living in New York. Follow him @E_Diep.
How did your book come together with Resource Ventures?
Resource Ventures is a well-known print company, and I have a mutual friend that I’ve been dealing with them for years and years just from the printing side of things. I had developed the book in prison. It’s basically in diary form of my day-to-day life. I created a book that told my story from since I departed from G-Unit up until now. It’s not just a book based on my prison experience. That is a part of it though. But at the same time, it’s an overall book just based on the ups and downs of my life up until where I am at now.
Your comeback story begins the moment you were released from prison in 2013. What was going through your mind back then? Did you ever think you would put out a book?
I wrote it in plans to put the book out. Before I actually went to prison, I had experienced so much trial and tribulations from my incarceration that once I actually got there, I was able to sit down after a while and start planning on what I was gonna do with my life after. Because the blessing of my situation was that I had an out date. I was surrounded by so many individuals that had 20 years and 30 years and life sentences and all different type of sentences that I realized that it was no sense to me to be down about anything when I had a release date. Especially when you are looking at the few of your friends’ paperwork and it says deceased. You know what I’m saying? When you are looking at an individual’s paperwork and his release date says deceased than you know that you need to start getting your life together.
So for me, I made the decision for the very beginning to come out better instead of bitter because those were the only two decisions you have in prison. You got a decision to make: You gonna go in and come out better or you gonna come out bitter. I was bitter in the beginning, but through the grace of God, I was able to turn my situation around and come out better. So I walked out of prison with a GED and all kind of different things like that. I got out of prison what I never even achieved as a free individual in a short amount of time.
those were the only two decisions you have in prison: You gonna go in and come out better or you gonna come out bitter.
How have you been handling the pressure to succeed now?
I think I work my best under pressure. It’s always been pressure under me. My life is pressure. I haven’t had a chance to experience life with no pressure. It’s like always something there. But I realized, the best way to do deal with anything and pressure and certain things like that is to embrace it. I embrace a lot of things. I even embrace a lot of the hate. You kinda need it to feed my fire. And even the pressure, I almost use it in the form of knowing that failure is almost not an option. I’m not looking to fail or nothing. The pressure is almost like gasoline in my world. [Laughs.] I ain’t lying.
How is this book going to show the distinction between David Brown, the person, and Young Buck, the rapper?
When the reader opens this book up, they get a chance to go in-depth and see and breathe things that the average artist just wouldn’t share. Things with the artists that goes on within the business and goes on with the artist’s life as an entertainer when you are dealing with success, finances, and things of that nature and the ups and downs of that. The things that the artist chooses not to speak on; I’m just one of those individuals that don’t have a mask on. I want the people to know the feeling that I was going through when I looked at my bank account and there was nothing there really. I want people to understand what is it like to experience being able to travel amongst the world and watch this music break language barriers.
Every artist always displays the good life from success, but there are so many key things. Different artists have different lives, but my life is almost like a movie in a sense because it’s almost damn-near unbelievable to me. I just realized that my story in itself is just as real, if not realer, than some of these individuals that the world is really, really prone to. It’s also important for me to educate the youngsters, the youth.
For that newer generation of hip-hop fans, what do you want them to know about you?
I just really want them to understand, for the most part, that nothing happens overnight first and foremost. That’s what I really want to tell the youngster that’s out there that’s looking to make his career happen and success and things like that. I just want to take them through the journey of some of the things that I went through to try and gain success. Let them understand from the very beginning that nothing happens overnight.
What is your book going to focus on? Are you going to open up about reconciling with 50?
Without a doubt. I’m definitely gonna give the reader an insight on how I reconcile my situation with 50. And you know how a lot of things played about that led up to the current situation. And then also let the reader know about how the situation had turned around. I don’t really want to say too much and give you the book. But I do want you to understand that you will hear about the reconciliation of me and 50’s situation as well as knowing about things before it that put us in a bad space and things that put us in a good space.
You touched on your bankruptcy case you were fighting and you publicly stated that you paid off your debt in prison. Are you going to describe how that happened?
Yeah, I’ll definitely do that as much as I can without putting myself in any kind of harm’s way. I did what I had to do. I’d be the first one to tell you that in a time of need I come from the streets, so I done what I had to do as a man to put in a position where I had to survive.
At 34, you are putting out this book. Will this be your first and last? Or do you think you’ll put another one out?
This is definitely the first book. You may get two books this year. It depends on, for one, how good I am as far as writing this next book. But I’ve already started the process of going into my second book, so you’ll definitely get another book from me. This book is pretty much wrapped up. There are a few things that have to be done. And I’ma be honest with you, I’m in a bidding war with a few different publishing companies about this book because Resource Ventures is a printing company. I’m able to take my book and do a publishing deal; I just actually did a printing deal with Resource Ventures being that they are one of the No. 1 printing companies in the world. I really wanted to team up with Michael Cipolla and really make something happen with him.
I think everyone still appreciates the Summer Jam moment of the G-Unit reunion in 2014. Do you ever fear the separation will happen again?
I think the separation we went through was devastating for everybody, not just me, but just for every individual within the crew. We brothers. Everybody experience their own trials and tribulations within the separation. Some of ours is played out in the media like mine. But I think everybody intersected in some type of way. Honestly, I think it made us stronger and bonded more than ever. We know what it is like to actually be without and be separated and the whole nine. We just know what it’s like. None of us want to experience that again. We all working hard to make sure G-Unit and make sure us as individual artists is in a position.
50 encourage things like what you seeing me do. He’s the one that is sitting us [down] and is like, "Y’all guys make sure that y’all take this opportunity and make the most of it." We are in a point in our careers where you got to step up and play your part. We are all aware of it and we are all doing that. Me, Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, Kidd Kidd—everybody has their own business ventures and things like that outside of the music. We all got good music in the streets and music to come. We are at a point in our careers where it’s just about longevity.
Are we getting more music from you this year? I know you have the Ten-A-Key mixtape series and just dropped 10 Bullets.
I actually wanted to create a mixtape series. Come out for one single for each mixtape and do it in rapid fashion in 10 months. No wasting any time. I’m already ready for the next project, and it’s titled The Refill. That’ll be the next mixtape, and that’ll be done with DJ Whoo Kid as well. It’s crazy. I will tell you this much: There’s no features on this one. Again, that’s another mixtape with just Buck. After this mixtape, I’ll get to, of course, my brothers—Yayo, Banks, 50, Kidd Kidd. I’ve been a way for so long that I just want to give the world at least enough music to say, "OK, we got Buck. Buck is here. Buck is back and it’s moving."