Even though he’s one of Hip Hop’s hottest new acts, MMG rapper Meek Mill’s career was almost cut short before it even began when he was arrested in 2008 on gun charges. Now, in an interview with XXL, the Philly emcee talks about how his time in jail actually helped his career.

Meek explained that his eight month prison sentence helped him realize his desire to become an emcee. He said jail forced him to come to a crossroads in his street life, making him realize that he wanted his life to go somewhere beyond prison bars.

“I’m just a natural hustler. Before anybody even ever heard of me, I had money,” he said. “When I got signed, I had $250,000 – I was like 21. I was just a natural born hustler. Before I went to jail, I used to be a slouch. I used to smoke weed; things like that. Get high, hang on corners, play with guns – do a lot of dumb stuff. It took me to sit down in jail one time and use my brain and think. That’s the best thing jail did for me. I sat down and I thought about everything I could possibly do when I got out of there…I had my own little conversation with God, and I feel as though the message that I was sent was, ‘If you want to be in the street, this is where you can go [or] you could put your whole life into this rap thing, and you could go somewhere’…I just put my life into it.”

Check out the full interview below.

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