In early December, Migos rapper Offset walked free from Bulloch County Jail, in Statesboro, Georgia. He had been arrested alongside Migos members Takeoff and Quavo in April, on a charges including marijuana possession, possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, carrying a weapon in a school safety zone, and possession of a firearm during commission of a crime, after a show at Georgia Southern University. While Quavo and Takeoff were released on bail shortly thereafter, Offset would remain behind bars for 233 more days. (Offset's April arrest followed a previous felony conviction. Offset spent another nine months in jail back in 2013, while Migos was rising to fame.)
During that time, Migos would release their first proper studio album Young Rich Nation, part ways with their label 300 Entertainment, and begin to plot a new course with the release of a mixtape titled Back to the Bando. Quavo and Takeoff also rode horses on vacation, adopted a new puppy, and got really good at riding hover boards.
During a recent phone conversation with The FADER, Offset confessed that it was bittersweet to watch his brothers keep the ball rolling without him, while he waited to once again be able to actively support his family—he has two children—or make music. “When I talk to them, I'd be happy,” he said of his daily conversation with the Migos camp, which sometimes included previews of whatever new music they were working on. “But when I'd get off the phone, I'd have to sit down in the room and think about what they're probably doing during that time.”
Below, Offset speaks on his decision to accept a plea deal, on how being in jail was different this time around, and the 72-hour studio marathon he indulged in upon his release.
How are you feeling?
I feel great. You know, I was in a situation that held me back. [Being incarcerated] held me back from getting money, from being present, from being relevant. Now I'm back, and I’m still relevant, so I'm taking it as a big opportunity. It could have been slowed up, but the train kept moving. I'm just happy to be out so I can please my fans and keep coming with the bangers.
What was your first day out like?
I was four hours away, so I had to drive four hours to Atlanta to see my kids and see my family. They was excited to see me and hear my voice and be able to kiss me and we spent time together. Then I went straight to the studio and locked down for like 72 hours without coming out. I was so ready to touch that mic.
Then Quavo and Takeoff had went on the road, but I ain't go to the first couple of shows, I just wanted to stay in the booth. I had to get all that pressure, all that anger, all the thoughts I had in jail [off my chest]. I put it all [on] “1st Day Out,” which I [recorded] that first day I got out. [When I was in jail,] in my head I was like, "Man, my first day out I just want to go to the booth and just come up with something off the top of my head.“ And that's what I did. It came right out.
How did it feel to be locked up for a second time?
It felt like I was taking a step back because I'm not in the streets no more. I was doing the right thing, helping my family, and supporting my family with the music. And for me to go back to jail, I was in there thinking like, “Damn, what did I do?” And at first I was lost, because I ain't had no understanding of how you can go from being on the top to right there in that situation so quick. When I got my mind right, I was just like, "Maybe this is God telling me what I need to do.” Or it could be saving me? It could be so many reasons why I had to do what I had to do. But it was a hard time, though. Everything was going on and now you just sitting still.
Were you writing or working on music while you where in there?
Nah, I wasn't writing, I ain't gonna lie to ya. I wouldn't write because we just go in the booth and go off the top. But I was just reckoning with myself, and kept up my focus. I [would] walk around in the day room just rapping.
What was your daily routine like when you were in jail?
You wake up at five in the morning and eat breakfast. You get two boiled eggs, a little sausage, and a milk. They give you 30, 45 minutes to eat, then they lock you back in your room and you go back to sleep. But then the next time you eat is at 10 in the morning, and it's the last meal. They give you a tray. It might have some spaghetti with a piece of toast, a cake. And then you get some water from the water fountain. Then they give you a sacked lunch with three sandwiches in it, and that's for when you eat later on because after 10 o'clock in the morning they don't feed you no more.
When you wake up, you out most of the day. I play a little bit of poker, I play charades. I'll read a book, watch TV. There wasn't too much you could do. I did a lot of time on the phone, too. Talking to family, talking to lawyers, trying to see what's going on with the case. Talking to Quavo and Takeoff, most of the time. They kept my mind straight, 'cause you know I be stressing. Then I'll call them, they give me some advice and tell me what's going on, and keep my day going.
Did your relationship with Takeoff and Quavo change this year?
I'd call them probably once a day, then probably a couple times at night. They'd just tell me what was going on. They was on tour, and they was piped up out there. I’d hear the music through the phone. You can't really hear it real good, but it was sounding hard on the phone. When I talk to them, I'd be happy, but when I get off the phone I have to sit down in the room and think about what they're probably doing during the time. I guess sometimes it got to me. It was bittersweet.
Young Rich Nation came out while you were locked up, so this is the second major Migos release that you missed because you were in jail. How did that fell?
I mean, I been through it before. So this time I felt like I should just get [my time] over with. Once it’s over with, it’s over with. It probably wouldn’t be that long. I was also so happy to see [their success]. Like, for solo artists, everything stops when they go in. I was happy to see them, that the tape did good, and how hard we still was. So I was proud, too, watching them do their thing. That’s my family. It made me feel good because I knew that when I touched down, the ball would still be rolling. I could get in with the group, we stick together. It’s still the three of us, it's still money being made while I was pinned down. I did want to get out at the same time.
Did other inmates know who you were?
Yeah, everybody knew who I was. The captain of the jail, everybody. Sometimes it would get annoying because they don't treat you like you're normal, so sometimes you might be trying to be by yourself and somebody will come and tell you that they fuck with your music but you can't put 'em down 'cause they fuck with your shit. But then sometimes you might not wanna be bothered. I got some advantages. I got to stay out later sometimes, stay on the phone when everybody be locked down. But it really weren't no privileges, 'cause you still were locked up.
You ended up taking a plea deal before your release. Was that a difficult decision?
Either I had to say in jail and try to go to trial—which I would have beat, but it would have been a long process and I would have still been in jail right now—or I could take this probation, so I could be with my kids and my family, supporting them. I can't do nothing when I'm in jail, so I had to take the punch. Whatever I had to do to get free I was willing to do it, so I did what I felt like that was the best for me. And I'm out now. It was a kind of hard decision to make, but I took the first way out. I'm glad I made the decision because now I can get back to the money. I can get back to what I love, I can get back to my family. I can go on the road. When I was in there I couldn't do none of that. I don’t belong in there.
Did this time away change you?
I'm way more motivated to be careful, because the next time could be worse and I might not come home. I don't got no more strikes, so I got to make sure I stay on my toes.
How do you plan on being more carful?
I gotta make sure I travel as safe as I can. I gotta get permission to go out of town, that’s about it. I'm confident that I [can stay out of trouble]. I’m changing the way that I move around, so there ain't gonna be no chance for me to get slipped up again, 'cause I ain’t gonna have nothing on me to make me slip.
Did you feel supported during your time away?
A lot of fans were writing me, every single day. I had like, four, five bags full of mail when I got out of jail. They might say their name and then tell me to hold my head, and they always put “pound free Offset” on everything.
It’s a blessing to have people to support you from across the world. It was the greatest feeling ever, [to get out and find out people still cared], 'cause I felt like I wasn't doing it, I felt like I was losing.