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.
To make a long story short, the warden blessed me. He took a liking to me, taught me some things about Islam and we ended up growing our own relationship. He’s the one who ended up helping me when my lawyer told me it might be six months, a year, or four years. I was sitting there in a daze after my lawyer left, thinking bout what I’m gonna do for the next year or whatever in here, and the warden came in and he was like, “It’s not in my job description and I really don’t care about your case, but I’ve come to like you as a person. I’m not suppose to do this, but I’m going to call your prosecutor.” I couldn’t even get the U.S. Embassy to call the prosecutor!
The warden said, “Gimme 10 minutes and I’ll let you know.” He called me and was like, “Hey I just talked to your prosecutor, I think you might be going home in a week.” I just gave him this big ass hug. And the inmates, they not even used to seeing that. That can’t see an inmate giving the warden a hug. I called my mom and I was like, “Mom, I think I might have good news. The warden just did me a whole favor.” And she was like, “I knew it! I knew it! Everybody been praying.” We’d been on an up and down roller coaster—I was supposed to be there for Thanksgiving, and then we thought I was gonna be there for Christmas.