Beanie Sigel has a life story you can write a book on. The rapper was in jail for two years, shot twice and involved in more than a few beefs including the likes of Jay Z and Oschino Vasquez of Oschino & Sparks throughout his career. His life plays out like a Hughes brothers' film.

Sigel's legal troubles have been well documented too. In 2010, he plead guilty to tax evasion and was sentenced to two years in jail. A few days before he was scheduled to head into prison on Aug. 29, 2012, he was arrested after being pulled over and police found prescription drugs in the vehicle he was in. He was sentenced to 23 months for drug possession, in addition to the two years he was to serve for failing to file federal income tax documents. Four months after being released from prison in 2014, Beanie was shot in the torso and suffered life-threatening injuries after an altercation turned bad in the Jersey Shore town of Pleasantville, N.J. It took months for him to recover, but the one that didn't suffer was his talent.

The 42-year-old MC has always been one of hip-hop's most gifted lyricists. Whenever Beans gets on a record (like his 2000 debut album, The Truth) people stop to listen. It's like seeing your favorite fighter take on his opponent; the execution and precision of each word rattling out the speakers are ever so descriptive and poignant. No word is ever wasted. So when new music from the former Roc-A-Fella rhymer slowly started to drop, fans gravitated with the quickness. Philadelphia's prodigal son is back.

While in New York City, the Broad Street Bully stopped by the XXL office to discuss his health, the new wave of artists coming out of Philly and working with Jay Z.

XXL: Your verse on French Montana’s “Have Mercy” is amazing. What was the energy like when you recorded it?

Beanie Sigel: What happened was when I came home, with the climate of the music, I thought I would be done with music, to be totally honest with you. For a while, not knocking nobody on what they do, things change and you got to change with the time but it just didn’t seem [for] me at that time when I was sitting back for two and a half years in jail and I’m looking at the vids and watching what people gravitate to, I said, Damn, there isn’t any room for me in that shit. ‘Cause I couldn’t compromise myself to do some of the things that I was seeing people doing. Not only the new artists, I accept that from them, I accept change, change comes. But to see certain artists compromise their integrity to fit in with what’s going on now, I can never see myself doing that. So I was like, Damn, it’s a wrap. I’ll probably just do records, not an album, just songs here and there.

My whole plan was when I came home, [it] was to get in shape, get myself together, move to L.A. and do the movie thing. I did pretty well with the movies and just on my story alone. That was my objective: come home, stack my bread and hunt down Ice Cube. My life alone is an ongoing drama every day so just about me being able to sit down and tell certain stories. Just stories of what I been through, what I seen and what I witnessed; they think The Wire is the shit, wait 'til they get a load of the SP Chronicles. That was my move. I was going to come home and do a series like the wire but it was going to be called The SP Chronicles. That was my goal. I had seen all these joints popping up -- Amazon, Hulu, Netflix -- and it's some money there for me.

How did you meet first meet French Montana?

I met French Montana back in the day when he was rapping with Max B, Coke Boys. I was feeling Max B. I was feeling his whole little twist, like he was him. I had a young buck from around my way say like, “Yo, I be kicking it with those niggas.” I’m like, “You don’t know them niggas.” But I was like, "Aight [set it up]." He came back like, “Alright, I talked to them and they want you to come up.” So I said, "Aight, get them on the phone." Then I talked to Max on the phone and was like I was going to come up there. I took Vodka with me, a young boy from Philly I thought at the time was hot but didn’t get his shot. He had that different quality about him too. He was unique. He wasn’t rapping like no average Philly rapper.

But I took him up there with me and they were recording in the crib and French came. I was like, “That’s the boy that’s been in the DVDs with Max.” I’m thinking he Italian or French. When I come into the room, he give me the greetings, “As-salamu alaykum.” I’m like, “Oh, alright,” and French says, “I’m from Morocco ahki” and we got to kicking it and we did a couple of records that night. We recorded in the closet; the booth was in a closet. I was rocking with French when [they] was in a two-bedroom apartment. We did three to four records that night. We recorded in the closet. I remember coming out that joint drenched. Since then, we formed a relationship.

How do you feel now? What’s your health like?

I think I’m like 80 percent. Lyrically, the lyrics never going nowhere. My 80 percent is better than these niggas 150 percent. The lyrics never went anywhere. I was just in my feelings about how my voice is sounding. I wasn’t worried about the bars. I got that shit on a string. That ain’t never going no where because I know I got a gift. Some dudes talented, some dudes gifted. When you got a gift you don’t have to work on that. You got to practice or work on your talent. When you’re gifted I feel like A.I., “Practice, you talking about practice?” I’ve been through too much in life for my lyrics not to be come off the way it do and who I am as a man and my character. I’m going to give you that every day, all day.

So what’s next for you?

Me and Jhalil Beats, we’re still working on that Still Public Enemy project. By the time we got to the fourth record, I said, “I’m not giving this out. I got to do an album. I got to make them pay for this.” This worthy of paying and I swear when I drop, I be telling my people, “I’m selling my joint for $29.99.” I’m not going on there for $9.99. True hip-hop fans are going to spend that $30. That’s how I’m doing it. I’m marking my price up. Some people are going to get it, some people are not. But I remember what Rakim said a long time ago. “Let others go first so the brothers don’t miss.” So y’all live, do y’all and I’m going to do me. The dude that love Beanie Sigel, they are going to rush out there to spend a little $30.

Have you been collaborating with people?

I got a couple of monsters that’s about to follow up that “Have Mercy” record with French. I got a record I just emailed to Jadakiss, just waiting for that to come back. I don’t want to say too much but that’s going to be the introduction that me and him are going to do, Kiss to Mac. I’m waiting on Uncle Scarface. Come on, man, send me back the track. I’m waiting for that. Other than that I want to do a joint with Fabolous. I need that Beanie Sigel [and] Fab, he talk that talk. I’m a lyricist dude so I like the spittas. Fab is a spitta, always been. I’m talking early Roc-A-Fella days, me and him on the road together, we shooting three pointers for a thousand dollars a shot. That’s when we was picking up them bags back then. Fab has always been my man. I want to show off with him. Don’t get it twisted. I can still dance on these joints [laughs].

What do you think about the new artists coming out of the Philly area? It’s totally different now.

A lot of niggas compromising their integrity to fit in. Philadelphia to me right now -- this is part of the reason I want to put out music -- I love my city to death, but right now, this my point of view, I don’t know how anyone else feels, but Philly look bad right now. In my point of view. As far as the ones that representing… it’s looking crazy. We don’t do that. We never did them, we did us. I think Philly right now is doing them, meaning [copying] other people instead of doing what Philly do. Then there are dudes out there that really spit who for the life of me I can’t see why they ain’t in the positions.

When I got on, I went looking for niggas. I remember going to 125th [Street in New York], the Ruff Ryders days when they used to be posted up out there. ‘Kiss would be out there with them, you know the spittas. I’m out there with them and they look at me like I was a alien when I said I came from Philly. There wasn’t anybody who was representing Philly at that time. We had The Roots and Will Smith until the likes of Beanie Sigel came along. I said, “Naw, I aint the only one.” You had Major Figgas, you had Naam Brigade.

It’s people in Philly that’s hard but they just ain’t getting their look. So when I got on I made it a point I wanted every part of my city [to come with me]. I was from South Philly, I found the hot nigga from North Philly, from Southwest, from West Philly. State Property covered Philadelphia as a whole. I had dudes in South Philly mad at me. But I seen the bigger picture. Y’all looking at the frame. We Philadelphia, we got history behind us beside the music.

What’s your relationship with Jay Z now?

Time heals all wounds. That’s my brother, no doubt about it. I love Jay.

You think y’all will do music together?

Yeah, I reached out to Emory [Jones] and sent him a record that I think he be nice on. That I think he’s the only person to keep up with how I’m rocking with this beat. I think it will happen. I did the Tidal B-Side joint. He called for me. He knew I was wounded too. I could barely get my words out. I still had shit attached to me.

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