Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceuticals C.E.O. who sledgehammered his way into public consciousness when he raised the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent overnight earlier this fall, and then swung again last week when news broke that he was the mysterious buyer who spent an estimated $2 million on a Wu-Tang Clan album at auction, has struck a third time.
The self-proclaimed hip-hop aficionado and aspiring mixtape dropper now wants to be the one to bail out jailed Brooklyn rapper Bobby Shmurda, according to an interview with the rap Web site Hip Hop DX published Wednesday.
“We’re actually in discussion to try to bail out Bobby Shmurda. Forget whether you think he’s guilty or not, the guy should not be sitting in jail right now,” he said in the interview. “He deserves a fair trial. He deserves good lawyers. He doesn’t have good lawyers. His label is hanging him out to dry and so I have a conference call tomorrow morning with them (December 15). I’ll show up with $2 million bail money no fucking problem.”
Shmurda, whose real name is Ackquille Pollard, was arrested on gun charges and gang conspiracy in December of 2014. His bail was set at $2 million, a fee his record label, Epic, a subsidiary of Sony, has not paid, though it signed Pollard to a seven-figure multi-album deal just months before his arrest.
Reached by V.F. on Wednesday, Shkreli would not confirm whether the conference call took place or, if it did, whether anything came out of it. He did tell V.F.com, “I stand ready to support Ackquille Pollard at his request.”
Though he is a professed fan, Shkreli’s support wouldn’t come without strings.
“The guy’s going to have to record for me if he comes out. I’ll just come out and say it,” he told Hip Hop DX. “If I’m gonna post his bail, pay for his trial, get him a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict. . . . With the right lawyer it’s just a matter of money. I see opportunity.
“The guy’s going to be more popular when he’s out. The guy probably didn’t do shit. . . . He’s New York’s best chance for rap since 50 Cent. It’s not a lot of money for me. Spend a couple million on his defense, a couple million on bail and I’ll get the bail money back real quick. So a million or two for his defense, which is probably $4 million in total, I’m willing to put towards his defense.”
Shkreli sees a lot of himself in Bobby Shmurda. They’re both from Brooklyn for starters. Plus, Shkreli said, “The guy’s totally irreverent. He doesn’t give a damn what people think. Totally irreverent. Totally I don’t give a fuck.”
Shmurda wasn’t the only thing on Shkreli’s mind. He used the wide-ranging Hip Hop DX interview to escalate a spat with Robert “RZA” Diggs, the Wu-Tang mastermind and producer that began last week after Bloomberg revealed Shkreli to be the mysterious buyer of the sole copy of the group’s album Once upon a Time in Shaolin. Shkreli told the business news outlet that after the meeting, he found that he and Diggs had little in common. In his own statement to Bloomberg, RZA said that the sale of the album to Shkreli was agreed to long before the group learned of his business practices. As a result, he said Wu-Tang “decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity.”
Shkreli, who referred to himself as “the most successful Albanian to ever walk the face of this Earth,” did not take kindly to that perceived slight, and referred to the situation as an “emerging war” between the two of them as part of an expletive-laden challenge: “I bought the most expensive album in the history of mankind and fucking RZA is talking shit behind my back and online in plain sight. That’s not the way I do business. If I hand you $2 million, fucking show me some respect.”
As for sharing the Wu-Tang album, he has thought about it, but again, nothing comes without strings for Shkreli.
DX: Have you thought about sharing the album?
Martin Shkreli: I’m not going to play it for no reason. If Taylor Swift wants to come over and suck my dick, I’ll play it for her. [Laughs]
And so, having cemented his reputation as a stock-market heavy, it seems as though Shkreli is seeking to earn a similar rep in the hip-hop industry, a world that knows from voluntary bad guys. He said he’s reached out to a few producers and a few artists to “test the waters,” but he wouldn’t put anything less than golden out for fear of embarrassing himself. He’s willing to pay up to avoid such shame.
“The budget for the album can be fucking $5 million,” he said. “I’ll pay fucking Drake. I’ll pay fucking Lil Wayne. I’ll pay Timbaland to make a beat. I don’t care.”
Also, he said, he’s talking with DJ Khaled to see if he can help him expand his restaurant.