Don’t Worry, Ja Rule! Jail Does A Music Career Good, Just Ask These 6 Successful Ex-Cons

Rapper and actor Ja Rule turned himself in this week to begin his two-year prison stint on weapons charges. Well, I guess we shouldn’t hold our breath for Ja to reprise his role as Bling Bling in “The Cookout 2.”

While this little legal hiccup has delayed Ja’s next album, he shouldn’t worry. If history has shown us anything, it’s that rappers bounce back from jail faster than you can say “Chet Haze.” (Well, most of them. Anyone seen Mystikal lately?) And it’s not just rappers–plenty of rockers, country stars and psychedelic singer/songwriters have gone on to great success after getting busted. If Ja follows the lead of these jailbird artists, he could be back on the charts in 18 months with good behavior…assuming he’s not tossed back in the clink for tax evasion, that is.

Tupac Shakur

Death couldn’t stop Tupac from releasing albums, and neither could jail. In 1995, he famously scored a No. 1 album while serving a prison sentence for sexual abuse. After that he…well, I think we all know what happened next.

Chuck Berry

In addition to indulging in such youthful indiscretions as armed robbery and carjacking, Berry was arrested in 1959 for traveling across state lines with a 14-year-old Apache girl courtesy of an outdated law called the Mann Act. (Yes, Berry was literally brought down by the Mann.) Berry ended up only serving half of his three-year sentence and went on to become a rock-and-roll legend who never again ran afoul of the law. Well, except for his multiple tax issues and the lawsuits for allegedly installing a camera in a ladies’ room…


Outside of Martha Stewart, few celebrities have benefited more from their time under house arrest than T.I. Not one to rest on his court-mandated laurels, T.I.P. wrote his hit album “Paper Trail” while awaiting sentencing for weapons charges. (Score!) Unfortunately, he then went to real jail. (Bummer!) But when he got out, he released another hit album. (Score!) And starred in “Takers” with Chris Brown. (Bummer!) Luckily things are looking up for T.I. In fact, he’s…what’s that? He’s currently in jail? Come on. “Takers” wasn’t that bad.

Lil Wayne

Last year, Lil Wayne was watching his album I Am Not a Human Being top the charts from the big house while he served a sentence on weapons charges. Now he’s out and about to drop the much-anticipated Tha Carter IV. (He even covered a Tupac song on his upcoming “Unplugged” performance.) The only thing he’s guilty of these days is unleashing Kevin Rudolf on the unsuspecting masses.

Mindy McCready

Okay, so maybe the past decade hasn’t exactly been kind to the hard living, Oxycontin-popping country singer. But since her most recent jail stint in ’08, McCready has produced an acclaimed album AND a sex tape. Hey, that’s more than Amy Winehouse has accomplished lately.

Roky Erickson

As a member of the 13th Floor Elevators, Roky was on the forefront of the psychedelic rock movement. This all ended when he was busted in 1969 for marijuana possession and took a stint in a hospital for the criminally insane in order to avoid jail time. While he’s suffered from schizophrenia over the years, these days Roky’s a hipster favorite thanks to his work with bands like Okkervil River and Mogwai. No, not the cute little guys from “Gremlins.” Though that would be awesome. Gizmo has a lovely singing voice.

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