Currently serving a year in Atlanta's Fulton County Jail for violation of parole, Gucci Mane is set to release his all-new Burrrprint 2 mixtape tommorow, with some of the verses recorded over the actual jail phone. While a handful of prisons across the country contain recording equipment for use by inmates (as heard on the forgotten "scared straight"-style album by the Lifers Group in 1993), most prison officials would argue that pursuing a music career from behind bars is a privilege few, if any, deserve. Gucci however, who has mastered maintaining a street buzz throughout incarnation, is far from the first to skirt the rules.
West Coast legends like Mac Dre and X-Raided have recorded entire albums by phone, and even 50 Cent once called Cutmaster C during an hours-long stay in central booking for an interview "from jail" that appeared on the 2003 mixtape Live From Central Bookings Tha Holdin' Pen!!!. Whether firing shots at enemies or just keeping their name in the street, the so-called "jack" has become a valuable tool in hip-hop's recording arsenal, as you'll see in our look back at the history of rap songs recorded over the phone from jail...
Mac Dre, "Back 'N Da Hood"
• Before the Mac Dre became an icon airushed onto t-shirts the world over, he was doing a stretch for conspiracy to commit bank robbery in Fresno. Just after being incarcerated he recorded the entirety of his Back N Da Hood EP over the phone, some of which ended up on Young Black Brotha: The Album, a compilation album not to be confused with his debut EP of the same name.
• "I'm much more creative in here," X-Raided told Vibe Magazine in 1998. His output confirms as the Sacramento native has released some 20-plus albums and compilations while serving a 31 year sentence for an unspecified role in a gang related homicide. Though later albums were able to be recorded through devices provided by prison staff, his Xcorcist album is the only one recorded entirely over the phone.
Outkast f/ Supa Nate, "Nathaniel"
• Before he was Supa Nate, Nathaniel Elder's earliest rap incarnation as a Dungeon Family affiliate was as Aquemeni's "Nathaniel." Though he can be heard along side group members Black Owned C-Bone and Lil Brother as Konkrete on Big Boi's "Tomb of Bomb" from the break out Speakerboxx/Love Below album, he is the only member of this list who's phone-style appears on a double platinum album.
Mysonne, "Jail Freestyle 1"
• Mysonne, who was once the hope of Violator Management, was all but forgotten by the time he dropped a couple of freestyles from Orleans Correctional on Jae Millz's Once Upon A Time In Harlem Part 2 mixtape. He hasn't made much noise since his release back in '06, but he's managed to stay close to Millz, who lately has been doing his best to piss off everyone else who is making noise.
Diplomats f/ Hell Rell, "Hell Rell (Interlude)"
• DJ Sickamore once called Diplomatic Immunity an "opus of ignorance" and the Dips including this phone call from then unknown Hell Rell fits the declaration. Rell, who claims to have spent time in a great many of New York's institutions was serving two years in Clinton at the time.
Shyne, "For The Record"
• Shyne recorded his 50 Cent diss, "For The Record," along with an ill suited verse for Usher's "Confessions (Remix)," during the tail end of his stint in Clinton Correctional for pulling the burner to protect Diddy and his precious J. Lo from haters. The song, which almost got him more time, was a response to a freestyle 50 did on Funkmaster Flex's show in which he called Shyne "soft" and said wouldn't "shoot up the club again."
Tony Yayo, "Jail Freestyle 1"
• An incarcerated Yayo, who had to have been kicking himself in the ass for getting knocked a day after his release, recorded a couple of phonestyles for his Tony's Home mixtape in 2004. Though the demand for his music was never bigger than when he was locked up, a lot of that can probably be attributed to be people not having much of his music to go on.
Cassidy, "Jailhouse Boogie"
• "Jailhouse Boogie," was recorded sometime in 2005 while Cassidy was in the fight for his life after being accused of the murder of a friend. The song can currently be found on his The Hustla's Home mixtape, a collaboration with Big Mike and DJ Thoro, both of whom we are holding responsible for adding that janky ass beat.
Max B, "Sharing's Caring"
• The harsh reality of Biggaveli's situation (he's currently serving 75 years after being convicted of planning a botched robbery turned murder) is hardly audible on "Sharing's Caring." Max's wave, which swept one of the most difficult markets for a rap artist to break in, without any radio support, is being carried on by frequent collaborator French Montana amidst Max's efforts to raise money for an appeal.
Prodigy, "The Phone Tap (Welcome To State Prison)"
• "The Phone Tap," a musical version of Prodigy's now infamous blogs from jail, sounds surprisingly fluid for a song who's beat was added by Sid Roams after being recorded. We're hoping Prodigy, one of the few rappers who seems to have to serve out his full sentence (three years), released this as the first of more jail recordings.
Gucci Mane, "Burrrprint 2 HD Intro (Live From Fulton County Jail)"
• It was only a matter of time before Gucci, who's demand has never been higher than when he was incarcerated, allowed someone to record him on state time. This is the intro for his upcoming tape The Burrrprint 2 HD, which will otherwise consist of music recorded before he went in.