Beanie Sigel "What Ya Life Like" (1999)
Producer: Robert Kirkland
Album: The Truth
Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
Beanie Sigel's "What Ya Life Like" is the Scared Straight! of rap songs. In case crime-glorifying rappers gave you the mistaken impression that life behind bars is cake or even cool, Beans, who had two felony convictions by age 23, graphically breaks down what life is really like on the inside, and it isn't pretty.
The nastiest pictures the Broad Street Bully paints: using filthy toilet water to wash your funky drawers and brush your teeth; sneaking contraband in and out of prison in balloons you swallow then shit into your hand to exchange.
Beanie also describes several more psychologically torturous aspects of prison life: your lady smashing your "friend" in the free world while you masturbate or resort to having sex with men; never seeing the sun during 23-hour lockdowns; the heartrending loneliness of friends and family not writing letters; hearing grown men break and moan at night, and then becoming that man when you realize how many days you have left in a box.
For a prison song that doesn't even mention rape, there is no better argument for staying on the straight and narrow path. —Justin Monroe