You don't get many interviews like this one. Martin Shkreli, the embattled pharmaceutical executive and owner of Wu-Tang's one-of-on LP Once Upon A Time In Shaolin visited The Breakfast Club today (February 3) for a no-holds barred interview where the New Yorker went deep on his upbringing, his love for rap ("I'd buy Ghostface's next album"), threats against Ghostface ("“If he were here right now I’d fucking smack him in the face.”) and why he's down with the GS9 movement.
Here's some of the highlights.
If He's A Privileged, Entitled Prick
No. I’m from Brooklyn, New York. My parents are janitors. To this day, my mom still does that. I grew up in the streets, shared a room with my brother. I grew up the same way everyone in Brooklyn does. We move to Brooklyn, the most affordable place we could find, the most rent-controlled place we could find. Roaches and rats, I think that phrase comes from a certain rap music artists you may be familiar with.
How He Became So Douche-y
I think the media can portray people the way they want. And, look, I’ll give it back, Kanye can act like it too. So, it’s part of the persona; I’m a confident individual. But, after all that’s happened, I do wanna set the record straight. I’m certainly not privileged. I’ve struggled, fought. I went to City College and I’ve earned my way to the top. I think I should have earned a little bit of respect.
Why Did You Buy Once Upon A Time In Shaolin Album?
There’s a lot of details. Obviously, when the news first came out, clearly i was interested. I think every rich rap guy was interested. Maybe I can take it back further and talk about why I even care about Wu-Tang in the first place. I grew up in New York, I was a rock kid growing up. I’m not a liar. I’ll never tell a lie in my life. I told RZA to his face, I’m not your biggest fan. You gotta understand that from the jump. I can’t name every track on every Wu-affliated album. That’s not me.
I remember being a troublemaker kid, I listened to rock music. I had summer school one year, cause i was a big derelict, troublemaker kid. Me and this kid from The Bronx, Josh Martinez, we shared summer school classes together, every year, cause we were just always being jerks in high school. We went to this rich kid high school, Hunter High School in the Upper East Side. We were the two kids who didn’t below. Josh was always listening to Wu-Tang and I was always listening to Nirvana. He’d be like, Lemme hear some of that. And I’d be like, Lemme hear some of yours. I always felt it a little bit.
When I got into rap, it was actually Chappelle Show. I was getting into rap way before that, but when they had the Wu-Tang Financial skit, that was a classic and it really, quite frankly, it did a lot for Wu-Tang, it did a lot of rap and it did a lot for a new audience. Cause we looked at it and thought, this is truth in depiction. This is actually how a lot of us talk and act in finance, this is real stuff.
So I got more and more into rap. When the album came out, I said I gotta own this. There’s a lot of stuff rich dudes buy that just prove…to show off.
On His Disrespect Toward Ghostface
Look, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the whole Clan, including Ghost. But we’re talking musically. That’s music. There’s a different between music, real life and personas. [It wasn’t intended to be racist.] Let me end that right there. Son is a word that we use all the time and it’s meant to show disrespect. As if you were my son. He disrespected me. He called me a dickhead, I recall. At the end of the day, it felt like he was talking shots at me. In the hip-hop game, as we all know, it’s not easy to be on the receiving end of those and sit back. Even in finance you take shots. It’s a man thing. You take shots at me, I’m gonna come back at you. Especially publicly. That’s just basic bravado. I’m not gonna let him steal on me, for what? it was a tough decision, be clear.
On Allegations Of Price Gouging AIDS Medication
The number one thing I’d say, in law, cause a lot of people don’t understand this, it’s kind of interesting, you can be prosecuted for not maximizing profits. In fact, I know people that have. You have to do everything in your power to make as much money as possible, in the system that we’ve got. That’s business. You can’t hold back. You can’t go halfway. And we did the analysis, we said, we can go to $750. And nothing’s changed. People will pay; not people, insurance companies. Nobody actually has to throw the bills down. Absolutely [the costs affects people]. I don’t want that. This is one of the smallest drugs around, this is not Lipitor. This is not something everyone is taking. A few thousand people are taking it. It’s very rarely used. In the scheme of things, it’s 0.0001 percent of the drug business.
On His Arrest
According to the government, [I’m accused of] securities fraud, which we’re disputing the allegations. I just picked up a lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, who’s represented Diddy, Jay, 50, also represented some non-rappers. He’s probably the best lawyer in the world. I’m confident we’ll beat the charges.
Bailing Out Bobby Shmurda
I would have loved to. I was in conversation with his attorneys, the day before I got arrested. I got plenty of my own business to deal with. As far as I know, his trial is coming up soon enough, fortunately for Bobby. Talk about injustice in the criminal justice system, I was bailed out in three hours. Maybe four. I went downtown. I was in Th Tombs. I was in my own cell, white-glove treatment. But I heard the guys in the cell next door talking GS9, talking about stabbings and shootings. I sitting there like, I wanted to be in that cell! [Laughs.] They kept me separate. I was out in three hours. This cat has been in jail a year. Jail is suppose to be a temporary spot that you go in and out of while you’re lawyer gets your ass out of there. You don’t have to put up that much money. One of the amendments of The Constitution is that the government will not impose unreasonable bail. And what they’re doing to Bobby is ridiculously unconstitutional. It’s disgusting. And as I’ve seen it, I’m an opportunist, I can take this guy out of jail: I got the money, I got the lawyers. I can put up the 2, he’ll wear a bracelet. It’s too late now. It’s unfair, it’s bullshit. Prison is one thing, you get convicted then you do the time. But this man, is innocent until proven guilty. To incarcerate him before he’s convicted and to deny his bail seven times?