Bobby Shmurda was born Ack­quille Jean Pol­lard in Miami, Flor­ida, on August 4, 1994, the same year Biggie’s debut album Ready To Die climbed to No. 15 on the Bill­board 200 chart.

By all accounts Pol­lard (from here on referred to as “Shmurda”) should have spent his form­at­ive years in the sun­shine state.  But fate had oth­er plans.  Gervase John­son, Shmurda’s fath­er, was sen­tenced to life in pris­on for attemp­ted murder in Miami-Dade county.  Not long after Johnson’s sen­ten­cing, Leslie Pol­lard, Shmurda’s moth­er, moved him and his older broth­er, Javese, north to the toughest bor­ough in New York: Brooklyn.

Shmurda was barely two months old when he arrived in the bor­ough that brought us Fabol­ous and Jay‑Z.  The year the Pol­lards moved to New York, the city’s  crime rate improved slightly when com­pared to a dec­ade earli­er.  Crime was fall­ing across the city, for sure, just not as fast as it rose.  In Flat­bush where the Pol­lards would even­tu­ally settle, ser­i­ous crimes like murder were on the rise.

Around 10 years old Shmurda was intro­duced to Flatbush’s crack trade by his broth­er, Javese.  Shmurda’s intro­duc­tion to drug deal­ing came from a need to fol­low his big broth­er every­where.  If Javese went to shoot hoops at Pro­spect Park, Shmurda was on the side­lines beg­ging to dribble the rock.  If Javese was look­ing for a spot to lay out on Brighton Beach, Shmurda was right behind him, drag­ging the cool­er across the sand.  So when Javerse star­ted selling crack, it made per­fect sense for a young Shmurda to do the same.

It was 2004 when Shmurda sold his first vial of crack to a Brook­lyn fiend.  It was also the year rap­pers from the Mid­w­est and (to a great­er extent) the South began mak­ing their mark on the Hip Hop scene.  A year ago East Coast MCs like Lil’ Kim and 50 Cent dom­in­ated the Hip Hop and R&B charts.  Now the likes of Lil’ Wayne and Kanye West were the ones dominating.

South­ern rap’s influ­ence and pop­ular­ity would only increase over the next dec­ade.  As artists like Out­Kast and Jeezy ran rough­shod over the air­waves, Shmurda was run­ning the streets of Flat­bush with a crew that called them­selves GS9.

GS9 stands for “G Stone Crips.”  In a dec­ade, Brook­lyn Dis­trict Attor­ney Ken­neth P. Thompson would indict Shmurda and sev­er­al mem­bers of GS9 on 69 counts ran­ging from Con­spir­acy to Murder.  Six months before the indict­ment, Com­plex would ask Shmurda what it was like grow­ing up in Flat­bush.  The rap­per would respond, “[You] gotta be hard.  If you ain’t hard you ain’t gonna stand.”  That’s exactly what GS9 was com­posed of: A mot­ley crew of young males of Carib­bean des­cent hardened by the streets of Brook­lyn.  Based in East Flat­bush, the GS9 gang claims sev­er­al dozen mem­bers.  The more well-known mem­bers include Chad “Rowdy Rebel” Mar­shall, Rashid “Rasha” Deris­sant, Santino “Cueno” Bod­er­ick, Alex “A‑Rod” Cran­don, and Shmurda’s best friend, Tyr­ief “Shyste” Gary.

The activ­it­ies Shmurda and GS9 were involved in from 2004 to 2014 need not be men­tion in detail.  All that needs to be under­stood is this: GS9 did whatever it took to sur­vive the streets of Brook­lyn.  If a rival invaded GS9 turf, the gang was quick to defend it.  If money had to be made, GS9 made it by any means.  Some­where between defend­ing turf and mak­ing money, Shmurda spent a little over a year in juven­ile deten­tion for a gun charge.  The charges were dropped even­tu­ally, and Shmurda soon found him­self back on the streets.

Then, as anoth­er hot sum­mer came to a close, tragedy struck.

On Septem­ber 5, 2011, Shmurda’s best friend was shot while attend­ing a Labor Day cookout in East Flat­bush.  Shyste was shot in the chest.  Three oth­er men were hit too.  All four gun­shot vic­tims were rushed to Kings County Hos­pit­al.  Shyste was the only one who didn’t sur­vive.  He was 18 just sev­en months when he died.  News reports claimed mem­bers from a rival gang called BMW (“Brooklyn’s Most Wanted) were behind Shyste’s murder.  The N.Y.P.D.‘s gang unit would later claim sev­er­al shootouts between GS9 and BMW occurred in the years fol­low­ing Shyste’s death.  Like an old ghost these incid­ents would come back to haunt the GS9 crew.

While the beef between Shmurda’s crew and BMW cooked in Flat­bush, a heated debate was tak­ing place with­in New York’s rap cul­ture.  The debate was about cer­tain East Coast Rap­pers, and wheth­er or not they should cease imit­at­ing the sound of South­ern rap, which dom­in­ated the air­waves at the time.  Tru Life, a rap­per from Manhattan’s Lower East Side, argued both on and off wax that New York MCs should quit imit­at­ing their South­ern coun­ter­parts.  Far as Tru Life was con­cerned imit­a­tion wasn’t flat­tery, it was a vam­pire suck­ing the life out of East Coast rap.  The MCs that dis­agreed with Tru Life thought, in prin­ciple, that a rapper’s sound should not be con­fined to the region in which they reside.

This debate would con­tin­ue for years.  As it raged on,  Shmurda and GS — at this point vir­tu­al unknowns to the lar­ger New York rap scene — were exper­i­ment­ing with rap, cook­ing up a sound of their own.  Their exper­i­ment would give birth to a new genre of rap called Brook­lyn Drill.

In simple terms, Brook­lyn drill com­bines ele­ments of trap and Chica­go drill music with the sig­na­ture sound of New York-Style rap.  Today, Brook­lyn drill has reached Hip Hop fans across the globe thanks to artists like Sheff G and the late Pop Smoke.  But five years before Pop Smoke would per­form “Wel­come To The Party” and “Dior” at London’s Isling­ton Assembly Hall, Shmurda would release a track that many believe ignited what we now call the Brook­lyn drill movement.

That track was “Hot N—a.”

Stay tuned to for “Shmurda Life — Part Two.”

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.


@mister_factz is a digit­al con­tent cre­at­or for vari­ous digit­al media plat­forms. Ever since he first star­ted writ­ing about the music, film and TV industry in 2012, he has con­stantly pur­sued cre­at­ive ways to bring cur­rent news to vari­ous audi­ences. He is cur­rently work­ing on a nov­el and is also an accom­plished screen­writer. You can con­nect with him on Ins­tagram at @mister_factz

About @mister_factz

@mister_factz is a digital content creator for various digital media platforms. Ever since he first started writing about the music, film and TV industry in 2012, he has constantly pursued creative ways to bring current news to various audiences. He is currently working on a novel and is also an accomplished screenwriter. You can connect with him on Instagram at @mister_factz