In October, Reek Da Villian held down a spot in BET Awards Freestyle Cipher segment alongside Mickey Factz and Zawcain. And while the notoriety that came with the appearance surely helped, Reek credits a much less desirable appearance for jump starting his Hip Hop career.

“Jail was the best thing that happened for me,” Reek recently told the New York Daily News. “When you go to jail it’s just you, you’re by yourself. “You have to meet new people, learn how to become friends with strangers and pick out who’s good and bad, and overall it just turned me into a man and it showed me what I didn’t want to do.”

Upon his release in 2004, Reek completed his bachelor’s degree and began pursuing a Rap career. He ran into Busta Rhymes in a Long Island clothing store a few years later, and freestyled on the spot for about five minutes in hopes of getting an A-list co-sign.

“He didn’t come off to me like the regular—you hear a lot of dudes all the time,” Busta explained. “He made sure the impression he left was an everlasting one. And that’s how I felt.”

Apparently the feeling wasn’t initially mutual. Reek was in disbelief when Busta Rhymes called him to follow up on the impromptu freestyle.

“I called his ass and he hung up on me,” Busta Rhymes added. “He thought I was a prank caller!”

These days everything’s serious. Busta enlisted the likes of Swizz Beatz to help Reek with his upcoming debut. In addition, to Busta and Swizz, Reek got a cast of all stars including Nelly, Method Man, DJ Khaled, Cam’ron and Vado to appear on his most recent mixtape, The Gift.