5 Incredible Works You Won't Believe Were Made Behind Bars
Lil Wayne is one accomplished man. The mastermind behind Young Money Entertainment, he’s the genius who gave Drake and Nicki Minaj their big breaks, a proud father of four, and a platinum-selling artist. But things haven’t always been so ideal for the New Orleans-born rapper; in 2010, after pleading guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon, he spent eight months in one of America’s most notorious prisons on Rikers Island. And soon, you’ll be able to learn all about that stint in prison, thanks to Lil Wayne’s soon-to-be-released memoir, Gone ‘Til November: A Journal of Rikers Island. In the highly-anticipated book—which was written without a co-writer and, according to a representative for Penguin, is “taken directly from Wayne’s own journal—Wayne apparently chronicles his time spent incarcerated, and the daily rituals he took solace in. So in the spirit of making something really quite good out of a very bad situation, we bring you five other rappers who’ve produced worthwhile works from a cell.
1. Gucci Mane
Gucci Mane makes more money from prison than the average person does in the free world…by a long shot. The Atlanta-bred rapper has released countless bangers from behind bars during his multiple sentences, most of which have received critical acclaim. Perhaps most notable among them is his album The State vs. Radric Davis, which topped the Billboard Top 200 in November of 2009 and had fans adamantly screaming “free Gucci!” The trap lord even looks out for his Atlanta fam while in prison, if his 2014 collaboration with Raury, “Dead People,” is anything to go by. Then in May, he released “First Day Out Tha Feds” less than 24 hours after being released from his two-year stint in prison. Clearly, Gucci stops at nothing.
In 2007, Albert “Prodigy” Johnson, of former hip-hop duo Mobb Deep, was incarcerated for criminal possession of a weapon after making an illegal U-turn. During the subsequent three and a half years behind bars, the rap legend went on to pen his autobiography My Infamous Life, a sobering work detailing his plight with drugs, the perilous New York streets, his family, and sickle cell anemia. A telling memoir of an East Coast rapper’s life, My Infamous Life is one of the realest reads out there.
In 1995, 2Pac was found guilty of sexual assault, but instead of waiting around idly before being locked up, he hunkered down and finished up his third studio album, Me Against the World, which was released in March 1995, one month after he started his sentence. The album is arguably one of the most acclaimed of all time and solidified his spot as a hip-hop legend before his untimely death a year later.
4. Pimp C
One half of UGK, Pimp C released his first solo album Sweet James Jones Stories in 2005 during his eight-year prison sentence. While serving his time in prison, he created freestyle bangers as fans chanted “Free Pimp C” from the outside. Sadly, Pimp C died in 2007, but both his verses and his impact on the industry are still alive and well today; Drake’s song “Faithful” from his album Views even features a Pimp C verse.
5. Mac Dre
While serving a five-year prison sentence for conspiracy to rob a bank, Mac Dre proved how fully dedicated he was to his craft when he recorded verses over the phone. Known for such seminal albums as Back n da Hood (1992) and Young Black Brotha (1993), the late Bay Area rap legend continues to transport us back to one of hip-hop’s realest times with his West Coast rhymes.
Original image by Ashley Britton.
Lil Wayne’s upcoming memoir, Gone ‘Til November: A Journal of Rikers Island, will be released on October 11th and can be pre-ordered here.
Stay tuned to Milk for more crafty rappers.