On January 13, Future‘s affable DJ Esco (real name: William Moore) returned to his mother’s home cooking after an unexpectedly long stay in the United Arab Emirates. He’d traveled there to perform with Future at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a swanky weekend also attended by Kim Kardashian, Prince Harry, and the Spice Girls. Future would later call his experience in Dubai “priceless” and something he would “never forget.”
Esco will also never forget his experience in Dubai, which began when he was arrested at the airport for marijuana possession. He ended up spending 56 long days in a prison where few others spoke English. As he tells it, during his stay he met a Taliban legend, learned about Islam, and befriended a warden who would ultimately help facilitate his release. “I wasn’t pissed that I was the one that got caught,” he said, recalling his experience for The FADER a week after he got home. “I was more focused on how to get out then how I got in.” Here, in his own words, is his crazy, terrifying, and totally riveting story.
DJ ESCO: We had been on the European tour for a month and our last show was supposed to be in Amsterdam. My birthday was around that same time, so I was like, I’ll wait to celebrate my birthday in Amsterdam. I had never been to Amsterdam, so wanted to go to a cafe and the red light district. Just typical tourist shit, you know?
Then we got asked to do an extra show in Abu Dhabi. Once we left from Europe, we were gonna do this one show in Abu Dhabi, then go back to America. At the time, I wasn’t really aware of the whole geographics, where everything was at. We’re at the end of the Europe tour, and it’s my birthday, and we’re in Amsterdam, so we’re gonna celebrate! I got the weed.
But I’m not trying to walk around around with all this weed, you feel me? I was not intentionally trying to bring weed to Abu Dhabi. And if I would have known the rules and laws they got over there, I would have quadruple checked my bag and made sure there wasn’t a piece of weed. I swear I would have.
So we land in Abu Dhabi and I’m just walkin’ through the airport and I got everybody’s bags. Probably, like, 20 or 30 bags. It’s a whole buncha bags that we pushin’. And I didn’t realize at the time that discrimination might be an issue, so I’m just walking around and thinking everything’s normal.
Our cameraman starts filming me walking in the airport, but apparently there’s no cameras allowed in the airport. This is how this whole thing started—now we’re causing a scene. I’m on my way out the door and a police officer stops the cameraman first. They’re real mean. He’s like, “No cameras in the airport! Delete the pictures!” He made our cameraman delete all the pictures right there on the spot. After he did that, I was like, Damn, he’s gonna do something. Like, Shit, man, we got him riled up.
We keep walking, but the officer ran to catch up to us. He stopped me and he’s like, “Who are you?” Because the camera was on me. I tell him I do music and that I just came here to do a show at the Grand Prix. He’s like, Lemme see your passport. Then he wants to see everyone’s, but it’s just me and and my manager. Everyone else had went ahead.