The last two days have been tough for Juelz Santana, but his legal battle has just begun.
The Diplomats MC was hauled into jail Wednesday for weapons and drug charges following a raid on his New Jersey studio, Santana's World. In an interview with MTV News on Thursday (January 3), less than two hours after he was released, the Harlem spitter spoke about spending the past 32 hours in an orange jumpsuit in Bergen County Jail.
Although Juelz learned of the bust immediately after officials visited his mother's home (he later called prosecutors to gain greater insight into the case), the uptown MC didn't turn himself in to authorities until Wednesday morning, when he already had a court date for an unrelated traffic violation, knowing he would be taken into custody because of his outstanding warrant. In the pen, the self-described "picky eater" recalled forgoing grub that looked like "rice and Alpo" to subsist on peppermint candy, maintained he didn't sleep the entire bid — during which the "minutes felt like hours" — and lamented the "claustrophobic" vibe of prison.
The newly freed lyricist, who was charged with four counts of narcotics and weapons offenses, still has major beef with a police department he said has always targeted him because of his status as a top-selling, money-getting MC.
"Jersey, their laws is a little bit different. I'm definitely a target out here just because of who I am. They pull me over... [there's] only one way to get to my studio, so every day I gotta take that route when I'm going to my studio in Jersey, so I get pulled over at least three times a week, 'cause they know all my cars. They looking to get me, regardless," he said. "I don't know why. I haven't done anything. I do music. I'm not selling drugs like they said I was doing. I'm not doing none of those things. So at the end of the day, I just don't understand their need to imply all the things that they trying to imply."
Santana insisted the Jersey cops have been looking to set him to up to drain him of his cash.
"It's about money. They don't care about the criminals, they want that money. They said, 'We gon' get him, he can get high bail.' Whether the charges stick or not, they gon' get their money," said Juelz, who was released on Thursday after posting $125,000 bail.
A January 20 raid on his studio turned up two loaded handguns, drug paraphernalia and 17 Ziploc bags of "a greenish brown vegetation, consistent with the appearance of Marijuana." The Dipset star has been charged with possession of a firearm and a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a handgun without having a permit, possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance within 1,000 feet of a school zone after police executed a 10-month-long investigation that led to the raid. (Juelz protégé and Skull Gang MC Hynief was arrested at the time of the bust). Despite the charges, Santana is adamant he wasn't involved in any illegal activity.
"If they saying they had an investigation ... 125 percent they ain't got me doing or saying anything," he said. "They can tap my phones right now. At the end of the day, I don't care, because that's not my business. I've been done with that, that life. Especially selling weed. It ain't like they said, 'Oh we raided his studio, we found 100 pounds of marijuana.' ... They found less than a half a ounce of weed in a studio. In a studio? That's what people do — go to the studio, smoke weed. So why would you assume that's being sold instead of being smoked? Then at the end of the day, I wasn't even there, so how would you pin some charges on me?"
The "Back to the Crib" mic-ripper insisted that the responsibility should lie with people who have used the studio and that, as the owner, he shouldn't have to shoulder all the blame.
"They gotta go by sessions. At the end of the day, I own the studio, I rent the studio out. That's like ... if I go to a studio right now downtown, and I bring my weed and my guns down there — not to say that that's what I'm doing — and I go down there and they run in the studio and they gonna let me go and lock the people from the studio? They had no idea what I was doing. That's the same situation I'm in," he said.
While Juelz flatly denied that he has been pushing drugs, he did readily admit to another one of the authorities' allegations: that he has a relationship with the Bloods street gang.
"I been gang-affiliated since day one. Everybody knows that, everybody know we got a heavy affiliation with the Bloods since day one. They just try to amp things up. The media, they amp things up [and] make it sound more than what it is. Gang affiliation, I'm around Bloods. People around me happen to be around more Bloods than anything else, so they assume that's what I'm doing. But I know Crips too. I know Latin Kings," he said, adding that police "don't really all the way do their job, they just vibe off of information."
Despite the drama, Juelz made it clear he has no intentions of ditching his recording outpost, regardless of what he feels is flak from shady cops.
"I'm [going to] record in that studio. At the end of the day, why should I move? I didn't do nothing!" he maintained. "I ain't gonna have them run me out of somewhere 'cause they got it out for me. I'm just gonna have to, at the end of the day, make sure things that ain't supposed to be happening while I'm not around just ain't happening. Besides that, I'm going right back to work. Like, leave me the f--- alone. Y'all wanna run in here, run in here. I ain't doing nothing. Ain't got nothing to hide."