Lil' Kim doesn't have to look far to find other celebrities who've more than managed their careers in prison – and she's not shy about pointing that out.
As she sings on her new record: The government tried to put me through it, But I'm back to style on y'all like Martha Stewart.
Kim's new CD, "The Naked Truth," hit stores this week, just eight days after she reported to the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia to begin serving a 366-day sentence for perjury.
Just like Stewart, Kim took on a flurry of projects as she prepared for prison and, in an unlikely coincidence, she's even reportedly mulling a reality TV project for VH1.
But as Kim looks to keep her recording career alive, she can look to several hip-hop stars – including Beanie Sigel, C-Murder, Cassidy and Shyne – who keep selling CDs, and manage to find ways to record new material, even though they're behind bars.
It's a myth that prison convictions give rappers a rougher edge that automatically builds fan credibility and boosts CD sales, even though that's been true in a few notable cases.
"I think this is a reflection of where hip-hop comes from, and what it is," says Nelson George, author of "Hip Hop America." "But don't forget, country music and rock 'n' roll were once rebel music. Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings and, come on, George Jones – they were real rabble-rousers. And in the '70s, rock 'n' roll guys were getting locked up for drug possession all of the time."
With the 1995 release of "Me Against the World," Tupac Shakur became the first major rapper to reach new heights on recordings released while in stir.
By the time Shakur faced sexual assault charges, he was a force in the music industry.
Jamal "Shyne" Barrow was a virtual unknown six years ago when he was charged in an infamous New York nightclub shooting along with Sean "Diddy" Combs, who was accompanied that evening by former girlfriend Jennifer Lopez.
In the highly publicized trial, Barrow admitted he fired a gun into the crowd but claimed it was in self-defense. He was convicted on assault, reckless endangerment and weapons charges and slapped with a 10-year sentence.
But the end of Shyne's freedom was the beginning of his run as a recording star. From prison, he signed a $3 million contract with Island/Def Jam Records. Both his albums charted well, and the latest (last summer's "Godfather Buried Alive") hit No. 1 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop chart, selling 434,000 copies.
For material, Shyne used tracks from a debut album that was recorded before the nightclub incident and never released. Some of the tracks were updated with rhymes Shyne phoned in from prison. He even managed to conduct a few interviews before prison officials cracked down on him.
While Shyne's second album sold less than his first, it still generated enough business for significant chart success. Shyne's career was nevertheless stymied in May, when a Brooklyn court froze profits on his latest album, citing a Son of Sam law that prevents criminals from making money from their crimes.
Surprisingly, confinement hasn't prevented many inmates from recording new material. Last year, Atlanta prison officials admitted that they allowed Clifford "TI" Harris, imprisoned for parole violation, to film a video in a maximum security jail.