The Art of the Jail Phone Song

Recently 03 Greedo’s newest album titled Free 03, an album with production from Mike Free that provided a new batch of previously recorded tracks. At the time of the album’s release, Greedo was still in jail, so a couple of the newer tracks that appear on the tracklist were recorded over a jail phone.

While these do not prove to be the best amongst the track list, with the more professionally recorded tracks overshadowing, there is a true art in doing the jail phone song. It provides a true live & raw moment for the artist, allowing for no room for error since they are not within their studio. This level of restriction pulls out sides of an artist we don’t normally get to see from them.

While hip hop has a rich history of these songs, we’ll highlight some of the most memorable ones.

Stack Bundles – Free Drugz (Live from Midstate) [Chinx Drugz]

Stack Bundles career was cut short due to a shooting, but during his career he was always trying to put on for others. Before Chinx ever got to the level of success he achieved with French & the Coke Boys, he could be found on Stack’s Riot Squad mixtapes. This freestyle in particular features one of Chinx’s rawest verses, straight from the prison phone. Retroactively looking at moments like this is one that’s bittersweet, knowing Chinx ultimately met a similar demise. The music the duo brought is some of the best NY street hip hop you can find, even posthumously.

I love life too much to get shot over two bucks

The Diplomats – Hell Rell (Interlude)

On their biggest release, The Diplomats still worked every member into the album, even from jail. Hell Rell looks his sentence in the face, not denying but embracing it. An album already loaded with classics, they also bring one of the most iconic jail phone raps ever.

YoungBoy Never Broke Again – Still Waiting

The art of the jail phone song isn’t lost amongst the newer artists either, as even YoungBoy Never Broke Again dropped a song during his prison stint. While obviously not his best performance, focusing more his melodic abilities rather than his rapping, he still manages to pour his heart out into it. Giving all personal updates, he gives a live & direct view into his life within prison.

Drakeo the Ruler & JoogSzn – Quit Rappin

So many fantastic tracks land on Drakeo The Ruler’s jail phone album Thank You For Using GTL. Drakeo’s attention to detail within his lyrics feel more focused here than ever before, as well as the performances meshing perfectly with his already lowkey style. With JoogSZN on the boards giving him that perfect west coast sound, the duo made magic. So much so that once Drakeo was freed, he went back & recorded those same tracks in a real studio for Because Yall Asked.

X-Raided – Liquor, Niggaz & Triggaz (ft. Brotha Lynch Hung & Sicx)

X-Raided’s career has essentially lived through as jail phone songs. Having only gotten to record one album professionally prior to his prison sentence of thirty-one years, he strived as artist throughout his sentence. Releasing multiple albums & even operating his own record label, he proved to be one of the most prolific artists despite all the obstacles. Not every album is his best work, but Xorcist is without a doubt a must listen.

Pooh Shiesty – Federal Contraband (Freestyle)

Charged to five years in prison, the bubbling 1017 artist proved he is still focused on music with “Federal Contraband.” His flow sounding like he’s never missed a beat, he gives an in-the-moment update of his troubles. As a Christmas release, there’s nothing better that his fans could have asked for.

Gucci Mane – The Oddfather Intro (From The Inside)

Gucci Mane had notoriously recorded hard drives worth of verses prior to his previous sentence. This allowed for releases just about every month, despite being in jail for three years. While majority of these albums were professionally recorded & compiled, the only jail phone song that turned up was on The Oddfather. With a beat provided by C4, Gucci delivers one of the hardest flex tracks from prison.

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