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It was an unseasonably warm morning last October in Philadelphia when Beanie Sigel walked through the doors of the U.S. Federal Courthouse to confront his fate. For a year, the Roc-A-Fella rapper had been mired in one legal dilemma after another, including a trial for attempted murder. This day, he was up for sentencing for one of those cases, a federal drug charge he'd pleaded guilty to six months earlier. Dressed in a dark, dapper suit that made him look like a romanticized mobster, Sigel was taking the familiar walk up the downtown courthouse steps knowing he could be going to prison at any moment.

If it were possible to receive good news under those circumstances, Sigel got it. Expecting to be led away from the courtroom to jail for a three-year prison term, Sigel was instead sentenced to one year and one day. And thanks to the influential arguments of his attorney, Fortunato Perri, Sigel could take up to 30 days to turn himself in.

Not surprisingly, Sigel took the entire 30 days. He spent time with his mother, fiancee and children. He finished work on his album, The B. Coming, and spent six days filming six videos, doing interviews and shooting his part in Damon Dash's "State Property II" movie.

The day before Sigel turned himself in to the Fairton, New Jersey, prison where he currently resides, MTV News' Sway Calloway met with him in New York's Central Park. Beans, sporting army fatigues and wearing a sullen look, talked about his sentence, his album and the outlook he had on his future. This week, as Sigel presents The B. Coming to fans, we present the interview to you.

Sway: Do you ever get tired of life in the streets? Do you ever want to move in a different direction?

 B. Sigel "The Truth" documentary photos

Beanie Sigel: Hopefully for everybody there comes a time for that. Once you start living for other people, you've got to buckle down and straighten certain things in your life. I'm not living for myself no more. What I do affects hundreds of people. I'm a father; I got kids. What I do affects them. My artists — what I do affects their families. If I do something, it's like a domino effect. ... It was just me realizing that I wasn't just living for me no more, so I had to buckle down and take it down a couple of notches.

Sway: What do you tell your kids when they ask why are you leaving?

Sigel: Well, lucky enough for me, my kids are at an age where I don't have to explain that to them right now. They don't fully understand that. Maybe in a couple of years from now I'll have to explain it to them. They probably think I'll be on tour or something, performing somewhere. They're used to that.

Sway: You guys did something called "The Trial." What's that about?

Sigel: Since Dame and everybody had been there with me through the whole situation, Dame got the cameras and we were just filming. And there was so much footage, we just put everything together. When we looked up, we were like, "We got to let people see this, how Roc-A-Fella is outside the office." It's sad that it happened in my situation, but people got to see how we interact with each other when we're not doing videos and in the studio recording, just being us, the genuine love that we got as a family. It covers everything: the trial, how we laugh, we joke, everything. It's real interesting.

Sway: The trial bought everybody together. Would you consider it a gift and a curse?

Sigel: Yeah. There's nothing corny about that. That's real. It brought everybody together. When I was going to trial, I seen everybody, like people from the staff interns to the whole Roc roster. Nore, Nicole Ray, Kanye West, Cam'ron, Juelz Santana, the whole State Property family, Rell, everybody was there.

 "Feel It In The Air"
The B. Coming
(DDMG)


Sway: How do you plan to run the company while incarcerated?

Sigel: Well, I've got a strong team, so I don't think my business, as far as my clothing line and sneakers, will be affected without my presence. I believe in Dame's judgment and [partner Kareem "Biggs" Burke]'s judgment as far as the clothing line, and my right hand, Charles Sutherland, he runs everything in State Property when I'm not there. So that's my voice when I'm not able to make meetings and be there hands-on. We see eye to eye as far as the designs.

As far as everybody else, with Dame and Biggs around everybody's album, we already got it set up whose album is going to drop next. The only thing is that you might not see me for a minute. And I wouldn't even say that with all the work I've been doing. It's like I'll be back before y'all even get a chance to miss me, trust me.

Sway: How did you shoot so many videos in so few days?

Sigel: I don't know how I did it — I know why I did it. The time was dwindling down; the clock was ticking. The whole staff, we wanted to get as much work done as possible. So I told them, "If we can go hard, I'm willing to go hard on whatever. Let's get these videos knocked out." I knew what I was facing, so I just had to do it.


Sway: You did songs in the daytime, mixed them that night with Pharrell Williams, and shot the video the next day?

 "I don't know how I did it — I know why I did it. The time was dwindling down ..."

Sigel: Yeah, we got an MP3 to my crib about 2:30, three o'clock, and I did the song that night. And I was on set at seven o'clock in the morning doing a video for it.

Sway: You shot a movie while on house arrest?

Sigel: I was still on house arrest. They changed my house arrest from Philly to New York, and I had a time limit. My normal house arrest is six in the morning to eight at night. They gave me from six to about one o'clock in the morning.

Sway: What is "The Truth" about?

Sigel: It's like a documentary, basically explaining where I came from when I first got signed to Roc-A-Fella Records to where I'm at now in my career as an artist and a businessman. It goes from footage of early shows I was doing up to now.

Sway: Do you look forward to prison at all from an artistic perspective?

Sigel: Being that I got the time that I got, I'm looking to relax. All I'm going to do is relax, plot, plan and strategize. If the lyrics come while I'm there, that'll be good, but I'm trying to search for bigger and better things. Because I can be gone for a minute, come in the studio and knock out three or four songs in a day like nothing. I can do that at will. I'm just going to sit back and re-evaluate myself, see where I was at, see where I want to go, what I want to do, think of some other master plans.

Sway: Is there anything that scares you about prison?

Sigel: Yeah, getting used to it. To me that's the scariest thing. Once you get used to it, you have a mentality like "Whatever." You don't monitor yourself or conduct yourself with the behavior you need to have in order to get out on time or earlier.

Sway: What do you say to artists who want to glorify that situation?

Sigel: Ain't nothing glorifying about that. I don't want to be there. You're hearing that from me: I don't want to be there, man. Only people who get caught and fools be in jail, you feel what I'm saying? Most people who glorify that are scared from day one, like they didn't want to be there. ... They just giving you, "Yeah, I've been to jail." They ain't giving you the, "Whew. And I'm out, I made it." Ain't nothing glorified about that. I don't think there is one person in jail that wants to be there.


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Photo: DDMG

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"Feel It In The Air"
The B. Coming
(DDMG)

"I Gotta Have It"
The B. Coming
(DDMG)



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