Cell Therapy: How Leaving Prison Affects A Rapper’s Career
As Prodigy is welcomed home and Ja Rule prepares for his upcoming prison bid, one writer breaks down how being behind bars impacts a rapper’s career.
“It’s Friday you in for a long stay / Gettin’ shackled on the bus first thing come Monday / Hoping in your mind you’ll be released one day / But knowing / Home is a place you’re not going / For a long while / Now you’re up on the isle / And the position that you’re in got you refusing to smile…”
–Prodigy, Mobb Deep’s “Up North Trip.”
Ain’t No Sunshine
Among prison’s realities is the sobering effect it has on the people it surrounds. While a parade of emcees enter and exit the penal system, it consequently acts as a crash-course in sobriety. For some, like DMX, prison brings forth a detoxification process that they haven’t seen or felt in years. It gives them the opportunity to escape persistent drug use. For others, the sobriety is from the fame, groupies; the life that they thought would never leave them. Even in a media-filled world where Twitter and Facebook can update fans at a seconds notice, prison has a way of limiting the all access world. It takes an artist from performing for thousands, tweeting for hundreds of thousands, and gives them the mundane prison structure that every inmate is forced to follow. You’re a regular person again, only you’re not a civilian.
With Prodigy of Mobb Deep’s minute viral introduction to the world outside of the prison facility, he appeared confident that he indeed was back. It was a subtle and rather mum reintroduction to the free world, after Prodigy attempted to stir up as much controversy as possible via blogging while inside New Jersey’s Mid-State Correctional Facility. Besides a tweet from long time Mobb affiliate Alchemist stating that he was in the studio with infamous duo, little else has been reported. An appearance on Thisis50.com, a tweet, and a self assured P informed us all that he was “back in business.”
The business and promotion models have changed, as have the way prison is marketed. At one point ignorant publicists believed in the old adage that “the only bad press is no press.” Prison, in their point of view, was not just okay press, but huge headlines. It demonstrated credibility to an art form that publicists rarely believed in, and in turn they ran with the headlines. It may have started with Tupac Shakur and the way Death Row Records and Suge Knight grandstanded during his release. It continued with every label attempting to market a sentence, celebrate a release and pretend that the crimes that were committed only validated a lifestyle. Through it all fans were made to believe that time served increased sales. We were made to believe that the years we waited would be worth it. Nowadays, unless you’re pushing unbelievable units, labels are dropping artists and it’s “on to the next one.”MORE HERE