Shabaam Shadeeq has kept a low profile over the past few years while serving a bid in prison. Back on the road for a European tour, the Brooklyn, New York rapper explains what it was like behind bars and how he kept himself busy.

“My state of mind when I was doing time was like, I just wanted to write, read a lot of books, gain my knowledge, get my body right and come home,” he told Media Gasface. “Do this, what I’m doing right now. This is a dream.” 

He reflected on his humble beginnings and how Rawkus Records wasn’t checking for him at first. “Rawkus was my introduction to the game. I put out two records on my own. I had a friend at Rawkus. At first, they was like ‘Nah, it’s good, but we here, we’ll get with you next time,’” he explained. “Then I put my own thing out and people on the radio started playing it, so after that, it was like, ‘Aight, I’ll mess with you.’” 

He also recalled recording “5 Star General” back in 1998 with DJ Spinna, AL, Kwest, Skam and then unknown Eminem. “’5 Star General,’ everybody respected each other’s pen game. We all went to Spinna’s house and we recorded. Eminem was a regular dude, a regular baseball hat… Later, he blew up. He ate everybody on the track. Hew as the best on the track, almost. I can admit. It was my track, I can admit it. When he dropped his verse, everybody was like, the fuck outta here!”

Shabaam says he knew that Em would become a star. “I knew he probably would’ve been a star, because there wasn’t too many white boys that were rhyming that vicious,” he continued. “Yeah, it’s more easy to market him, but at the same time, he’s not regular. He can spit. So being white just adds a whole lot more to it. If he couldn’t rap, he’d be gone like Vanilla Ice. He’d be gone. But he is fuckin’ nice.”