Empire has been on a break while the World Series happens, but now that’s over so we can get back to the important questions. Where’s Hakeem? What will Cookie be wearing this week? Is Andre regular crazy or extra super special crazy?
I can’t answer those questions, but what I can answer is the question of whether or not Lucious’s jailhouse track was one of a kind.
There’s been a few rappers who have had albums come out while they were serving time, but for most of them it was just a case of a prison sentence coinciding with an album release date. T.I released No Mercy after returning to prison but it was recorded before he went in, the same goes for Lil Wayne’s I Am Not a Human Being. ODB escaped a drug treatment facility and recorded a track for The W while on the run. And, of course, the live album recorded in a prison has many notable entries. But none of these were tracks actually recorded IN prison, the way Lucious and his jailhouse buddies used a laptop and recording equipment to record and mix a track while all of them were serving time.
There is a healthy list of rappers who have used the phones in prison to record verses or even whole tracks with the cooperation of friends on the outside. Gucci Mane is famous for this, but Supa Nate also collaborated with Big Boi on “Tomb of Bomb” from Speakerboxx/The Love Below, an album that went double platinum. Friends mentioned that Scott Weiland of STP apparently recorded some work this way also, but I couldn’t find any information on which songs those might be.
As far as I’ve been able to tell, there are no professional artists who have managed to get recording equipment into jail and a finished track back out. But these inmates in South Carolina managed to get a music video out without any professional equipment:
Honestly, it’s not a bad effort given what they were working with. With some professional equipment and judicious editing, I could see that charting. For their innovation and creativity, they were rewarded with a combined 20 years worth of solitary confinement. Lucious should count himself lucky that he pulled his stunt in the world of Empire where most crimes are waved away by the time the hour ends.