Unkut.com Presents…Rap’s Gulliest Prison Songs

words: Robbie Ettelson

Since the print version of XXL enjoys exploiting honoring the members of the rap world who have tussled with “the Beast” and lost, I thought I’d set things off this week with a look at some of the most brolic tracks about doing a bid. Having not personally spent much time behind bars – with the exception of a couple of booze-related incidents – I’ve had to rely on books, movies and of course rap records to get an idea of life in the bing. Midnight Express was a particularly disturbing look at the prison experience, while Penitentiary featured an extra-gully fight scene between Too Sweet and Half Dead when the latter attempts to “violate his manhood” (Penitentiary II was a shitty follow-up, despite featuring Mr. T and a midget). And who can forget American Me, which Joey Crack once mentioned in regards to something about some home-made moonshine, a bag of flour and a shiv. But enough about the flicks….

Capone-N-Noreaga “Phone Time”

It’s safe to assume that a dude who was incarcerated for most of the recording of his groups debut LP is pretty gully. The way he was waving his burner around and threatening people in that Tragedy-The Story of Queensbridge DVD officially confirmed that theory. Building apon his call-ins from The War Report, Capone kicks it with NORE about his impending release, while they compare notes about their daily operations and plans for the future, for what turned out to be just about the only redeeming feature of their dissapointing second album. After announcing “We gotta think about this money, fuck them hoes/we gonna throw a pound of weed out at one of the shows”, crowds at CNN shows tripled.

Akinyele “30 Days”

Following the popularity of “Put It In Your Mouth”, the Akafella turned his attention to T&A rap (even releasing his own Porky’s-style movie), but despite it’s misleading title, Vagina Diner didn’t really have any sex joints on it at all. This song houses more quoteable lines than most dudes albums – from his witty “stop snitching” declaration: “Harmonizing on a homocide rap/singin’ in the precinct, tryin’ to catch an R&B contract!” to his advice to you sensitive thugs “While I’m locked down, no thoughts to write me no love letter-that’s for queers/couple of years, later gator, but save all the crocodile tears!” (hold ya head, Nas!). All the while, the Ak maintains his composure, despite the fact that: “I’m doin’ 30 more days in the steel cage, locked down with men that go both ways”.

Da Lench Mob “Lost In The System”

Originally thought to be nothing more than Ice Cube‘s weed carriers, Da Lench Mob suprised everyone by delivering a pretty good first album, despite the fact that Priority made them remove “Pin The Tall On The Honky” from the finished version. It turns out that these guys were no “studio gangsters” either, as two of the original three members were later convicted on seperate murder charges. J.Dee – easily the best lyricist out of the crew – delivers an action-packed tale of correctional-facility misadventure over a dope collection of P-Funk breaks (reminding me of how good LA rap was before eveyone tried to bite The Chronic). This song actually contains the four essential ingredients for a classic jail joint:

1. Stomping-out fellow inmates.
2. Shanking a cracka (“Goin’ to the hole again/for shankin’ the devil with my motherfuckin’ ink pen”).
3. Avoiding becoming someone’s bitch (“Some faggot kept tryin’ to choose me/stuck the faggot and sent him on his way kid/Why? Because I don’t play that fuckin’ gay shit!”).
4. Telling the judge to suck your dick.

The Convicts “Penitentiary Blues”

Not only was the Convicts album one of the greatest records ever to come out during Rap-A-Lot‘s golden era, it’s also the only rap album entirely based around prison (except for the Lifer’s Group stuff, obviously). Big Mike offers his views on a fellow inmate: “He raped a little baby girl, Jack/I hope they fuck him in his ass until his tongue turns black” (whoa!) before getting caught-up in his own phone-time dramas: “I called my girl – some motherfucker cursed me out/I told the bitch ‘I’mma kill both of you hoes when I get out!’”. Gully as hell.

Tim Dog “Goin’ Wild In The Penile”

The b-side to the Dog’s classic “Fuck Compton” single was an amusing account of an “up north trip”, with more than it’s fair share of OZ-style moments: “Tryna take me a shower, wash it fast/faggots cold scopin’ my ass”. This was soon followed by “He stepped, I said ‘Yo, what’s your beef?’ ‘Beef? Nigga you look kinda sweet! How’s about you be my stuff?’”, which naturally resulted in Tim Dog layin’ the smackdown to this fruit loop. No homo on the the adlibs at the end of the song though.

WC & The MADD Circle “Out On A Furlough”

The Dub BU kicks another one of his trademark stories, although it’s a little more on the light-hearted tip than your standard jail tale, as he explains how he survived his bid: “Don’t get me wrong, yo, I’m far from soft/but for the next six months I was rapping my ass off!”. Pity for him that his crowd moving skills are a little too effective for his own good, as he gets bagged for starting a riot!

Threat “Bust One Fa Me”

Taken from his neglected but worthy Sickinnahead album (the only release from DJ Pooh‘s Da Bomb imprint), Threat’s track is more about the cause of his incarceration than details of his time in “the big house”, but it’s worthwhile for this classic line: “I met this homie last night who said the last song he heard was Flashlight, and he’s still in here tonight”.

Public Enemy “Black Steel In The Hour of Chaos”

If you don’t know this record already, then in the words of the Korean shopkeeper from Menace II Society before he got bodied: “I feel sorry for your mother”.

MF Grimm “Voices Pt. 0″

Spending years of your life confined to a cell isn’t all fun and razor blades to the face, as Grimm explores the psychological toll that isolation can take on the mental.

Tragedy “Death Row”

The Intelligent Hoodlum highlights another one of the downsides about life in the belly of the beast – you’re friends will try to fuck your girl!

Kool G Rap & DJ Polo “Rikers Island”

The first and still the greatest of all hardcore jail records. While it’s not as graphic as most of the other tracks, it didn’t need to be. The Kool Genius sets the scene perfectly: “Inside the lunchroom you meet your doom, somebody’s lookin’ at you sharpening a table spoon!”.

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  • sto89


  • who gives a shit


  • G Off

    Nice post… add Murder Was The Case (album version, not the wack remix). “Late night I hear toothbrushes scraping on the floor” is the type of detailed imagery that Snoop needs to bring back.

  • the one

    2nd bitches. Good read.

  • the one

    Good read.

  • che

    this thing started well with lupe, but then the guests just got shittier and shittier..

  • micguevara

    Beanie sigel had a good prison song something about “whats your life like” that was real state prision music,ice-t’s “the tower”

  • Boola Bless

    Where’s Beanie Sigel’s “What Your Life Like”?

  • soopadoopa

    Whut about Styles P some niggas off the OZ soundtrack!?!?


  • The DJ Formerly Known as N-CREDIBLE

    all these old joints on here…how old is this guy…boy i tell you those 70′s babies dont know what relevant

  • The DJ Formerly Known as N-CREDIBLE

    che Says:

    October 2nd, 2006 at 1:29 pm
    this thing started well with lupe, but then the guests just got shittier and shittier..

    LMAO…broke-back ass blog


    Some of yall need to get a life, on the real.

  • Ill Will

    Good shit

  • mMisha

    This was an excellent piece, and with music to boot! good job, ima have to check out your spot

  • Mr.Me

    How this Aussie aint gonna put up It Aint Easy an 16 On Death Row by Pac? Those songs are classics.
    An He Use To Be A Man by BG is funny as hell.

  • http://aramhiphopetc.blogspot.com/2006_09_01_aramhiphopetc_archive.html I Fux

    Fuck Jail

  • Enlightened

    This is the most slept on because you would have to have been up on him BUT:
    MAC, who was on No Limit and was a great lyricist, had a song called “Lockdown” on I’m Bout It Soundtrack.
    The song was tight as hell, but what was crazy about it was about 3 years later, he caught a murder case like the one he had described in the song 3 years earlier -in the club (similar to but before C-Murder’s) and he ended up getting a 30 year sentence. When I listen to the song now, it gets me everytime.

    “….over some shit/ I didn’t commit/it was them niggas I was with/but I’m silent…”

    Stay Up Mac

  • MidWestNiccah

    weres akons locked up

  • http://nahright.com eskay

    welcome to the Evil Empire Robbie.

    Robbie > Lupe as far as blogging goes.

  • http://aramhiphopetc.blogspot.com/ I Fux

    Interesting but doesnt help to publicize this garbage, I hate dudes that go to jail come home and think they accomplished something, and end up chilling with the same dudes that got them there in the first place

  • Danja29

    I figured when I saw unkut.com, it wasn’t gonna be anything from this decade… good choices, no doubt- but Beanie’s “What Your Life Like” depicts shit better than ANY of these except perhaps “Black Steel”.


    this list iz so fuckin boguse

    the worst prison’s are in cali and new orlens they can’t be surios

    with this wack azz list


  • outda954

    The song Ludacris has with Beanie Sigel, Pimp C and C-Murder off of Release Therapy is mad good. Where’s that?

  • Belize

    I like this nuccaz shyt…great post…im thinkin u left off styles and shyne because they were too comercial (whateva that means)..any hoo nucca, u should have still put it on there



    Sorry XXl – But ya’ll fools are leaving out one of the dopest gangster rap albums of all time -recorded IN PRISON
    - X RAIDED, The Unforgivin’ Vol 1

  • Belize

    ^co-sign..forgot about unforgiven..thats the black album with him rockin the black gloves right? Shyt was crack

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  • http://hardlyart.blogspot.com Sean

    where the hell is “Pelon”?

  • http://www.bozacknation.com/blog.html bk to the fullest

    How are you not gonna mention Lifers Group, “Belly of the Beast”?
    That was recorded in prison, by Lifers who were trying to keep kids “scared straight”.

  • 110 street

    great post if you all just read the post you would probably realize you have just been schooled instead of bringing up the obvious jail songs ne way, Max B hold your head, Harlemm..

  • http://www.abitnice.com/canibringmygat/ bse

    “He’s okay, but he’s not real”

  • Doc Flav

    Man that Threat album was had some of the best lyrical content i heard coming out west in that day. “and by the time he get out space ships will be flying…”

  • Sushi K

    How about:

    Xzibit and Sadat X – “Handle Your Time” from Prince Paul’s “Prince Among Thieves”

    Xzibit in prime form, riding a mean lobster tail of a track by Prince Paul (no Tofurky).

  • Rah Love

    “No homo on the the adlibs at the end of the song though.”

    Hahahahah! Yo that stuff is wild. Dude actually responds “aw, do I have to do it again?”

  • biggie

    where the fuck is shyne’s “for the record”
    that shit is amazing and you go an leave it out???

  • http://myspace.com/dnero1 Dneroda1


  • Nay Nimley

    Dope post. Also that Kenny Parker account (on Unkut.com) of the PM Dawn vs BDP situation was just dope, that’s what hip hop is about, niggas got knuckled down pretty nice, no guns, no 20 records back and forth, just 2 punches and a shove off stage

  • bk

    No Lifers Group, Belly of the Beast? Cmon now, scurred straight program!

  • Bang

    unkut got that raw! (nohomo)

  • sandino

    Yo that mf doom track is the shit!

  • chris

    No mention of anything by or about C-murder, Pimp C, Mac, Mystikal…the list goes on…basically another example of sub-par hip hop media bias against the south.

  • http://myspace.com/djnikoless kevin beacham

    It’s very nice to see Threat Included. I love that and it’s so overlooked. Plus both the Flashlight line and the “space ships flying” line are too favorites from the album for sure…ha.

  • http://myspace.com/hunterwun fosterakahunter

    Good grief. Some of y’all cats are too tender-tummied (I said cats, as in pussies); You’d probably get all bent outta shape if someone did a post on most prolific hookers and your momz was left off the list. Crumbs.

  • http://myspace.com/hunterwun fosterakahunter

    I f@#kin’ double-dare you!

  • No Beans?

    No Beans?

  • http://www.doublestandardcrew.com mordecai

    maybe there will be a part 2.

    @Sandino: thats MF GRIMM.

  • Eastside Bread Maker

    I co-sign some of you guys. Even if he was trying to educate some of us 80′s babies on older yet good hip hop, that Beanie Siegel “What Ya Life Like” is hands down one of the best prison songs ever!!!

    And not too far behind that is that Style P. Song from the Oz soundtrack!

  • DJ Lucky Luke

    Man, these songs are so muhfuckin real hardcare, y’all. Shit makes me wanna go ta prizon and straight make some niggaz my bitches n shit. What you pussi niggaz know bout that? Huh? What’s good in the hood homey, I straight rob a bank n go to the jailhouse homey to get my own fuckin cell, eh? I’m a be smoked out evy day, fuck da female COs, punch the warden in da arm, then make some lil white niggaz my bitches. Fuck it, I’m real, homey! I’m a be the one in dem videoz fo sho. Holla back JMONEY.

  • e

    Don’t sleep on Beans, Styles, Shyne, or Black Rob

  • d

    “I called my girl – some motherfucker cursed me out/I told the bitch ‘I’mma kill both of you hoes when I get out!’”.

  • ricky d

    Good list. Don’t forget MF Doom “Doomsday” – “I wrote this in BCDC O section, don’t believe me, go get bagged and check then” or Ghostface on “Verbal Intercourse” – “youngblood hit me off with that Green Bay hat.”

  • jon-jon 23

    Wow! Some of you niggas actually aspire to go to prison! Now those are goals! Why not sign an amendment to the Constitution to reinstall slavery? You niggas with me?

  • http://www.myspace.com/16kingz thebestout!!

    tell me what ya’ life like nigga mines is real ere’thing signed and sealed!!!

    you forgot this masterful vision beans gave on his first album!! man you garbage already!!

  • http://www.myspace.com/16kingz thebestout!!

    (free Corey!!!)big shout to all the o.g.’s lookin’ shitty in the county or sittin’ down in jacksonville!(keep ya’ butt-hole tight!)p.s.fuck breed….pussy!





  • Face Phoenix

    What your life like By Beanie Sigel was one Definitely missing of this list.

  • http://dallaspenn.com/weblog/?page_id=291 BILLY SUNDAY

    UNKUT dot com is steady lettin’ these dumb mother effers know

  • DCMadeMan

    2pac Got songs for days about going to jail-”Trapped”, “16 on Death Row”, “When I Get Free” part I and 2,etc..

  • http://xxlmag popo

    kuku for koko puffs

  • http://xxlmag popo

    i think britney spears is the best rapper

  • daesonesb

    ONE LOVE __ NAS.


  • http://xxlmag popo

    nas sucks jay z dick cause nas sucks fuck esco

  • http://www.jumpoff.tv www.jumpoff.tv

    che Says:

    October 2nd, 2006 at 1:29 pm
    this thing started well with lupe, but then the guests just got shittier and shittier..


    And Saigon got some ish about being locked up, I know he was for a few years. Immortal Technique was locked up too, but a lot of his joints are super political. They both hold it down though.

  • mannyworld33




  • mannyworld33

    [Verse 1]
    Niggas wanna know if Beanie Sigel life is real
    Nigga twenty-five ta life is real
    I get a body, take me right ta jail
    I know what it’s like in hell
    I did a stretch in a triflin’ cell
    What you know about twenty-three and one
    Locked down all day, underground, neva seein’ the sun
    Vision stripped from you, neva seein’ your son
    You got bricks on the strip, neva see ‘em get done
    What you know about all day
    Them Little Debbies and them Chi Chi’s, they makin’ you sick
    You gotta wash out your drawers same water you shit
    Brush, gargle, and spit same water you piss
    You down wit this nigga, you done killed his brotha
    But dog, don’t think he don’t know it
    Think he a sucker cuz he don’t show it
    Paybacks a muthafucka, and he won’t blow it
    What you know about them 4 letters, not the kind you write
    Or the kind you sit down and type
    Sign at the margin, get it right
    I’m talkin’ ’bout that real time
    Life like Eddie or Martin
    Ta my niggas, that’s up the fort
    When I get there fuck a pack, hand me a log
    And a push rod toilet sword
    So when I hit these niggas up they can’t call the guards

    Tell me what your life like
    Shit, mines is real
    Everything signed is sealed
    Tell me what your life like
    Nigga, mines is real
    Everything signed is sealed
    Tell me what your life like
    Shit, mines is real
    Everything signed is sealed
    Tell me what your life like
    Nigga, mines is real
    Everything signed is sealed

    [Verse 2]
    What you know about solitary
    Locked down, no commencary
    And you wild or ready
    And you just seen your mom get buried
    You got drowns, comin’ in all kinds of flurries
    What you know about your towel on your cell when you alone at night
    Or a jailhouse hunger srike
    Or you sittin’ in your cell and just zone one night
    And you think “damn, I’m neva comin’ home one night”
    You got 5 years in, neva been flown a kite
    You hearin’ grown men moan at night
    They got you stuck in the can
    White man got you fuckin’ your hand
    Your wife on land fuckin’ your man
    What you know about no parole
    Life in the hole
    Lifes cold, you be eatin’ them swags
    Guards on the nightshift they be beatin’ you bad
    The hardest nigga turned bitch, be sleepin’ wit fags
    What you know about gettin’ and shippin’ balloons
    Keep switchin’ positions in the visitin’ room
    Gotta take Ex-Lax, hope you did it in time
    Gotta shit in your palm just ta get the her-ion
    And you talkin’ ’bout your life is this, your life is that
    Your life ain’t shit, your life is whack
    Man you listenin’ ta the realest nigga
    Close your eyes, muthafuckas tell me you don’t feel this nigga
    The illest nigga


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  • http://www.africamaat.com kamite boy

    kamite khérèd & kamite sat

    kamite french force

  • danharris

    shyne – for the record,
    sounds like it was taped over the phone, “death is perfection as i move without motion” i think its on the most recent album

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  • MDO

    ice-t the tower, freddie foxx man destroys man

  • get thesenets

    honorable mention for Ghost’s verse on “Verbal Intercourse”
    made bail with different sized kicks on.. a white dress shirt

    hit me off with that Green Bay hat….