“T.I. reported to a federal prison in Arkansas on Monday. Gucci Mane was arrested on a litany of traffic charges on Tuesday. Lil Wayne is expected to be released from Rikers on Thursday. So on Wednesday, all four rappers were behind bars. And while their careers appear to be headed in very different directions, they all illustrate how prison time can only harm a rap career. Tours derail. Endorsements vanish. Momentum slows. Infractions that used to help build a rapper’s mystique now only jeopardize a brand.
“The branding powers of a prison sentence felt tangible when Tupac Shakur’s album “Me Against the World” topped Billboard charts in 1995 as he served an 11-month sentence for sexual abuse. Today, the notion feels obsolete.
“‘Jail for anyone’s career is bad,'” says Texas rap legend Bun B. ‘It stops everything dead. There’s no reason to be proud of going to jail unless you’re going to jail for activism.'”