On Tuesday, [artist id="510062"]Lil Wayne[/artist] is scheduled to surrender to New York authorities and is expected to begin serving a one-year prison sentence, stemming from a July 2007 attempted gun possession arrest.
Wayne is certainly not the first artist to go down this path, especially not in recent years. And, much like those before him, he's addressed the situation, in the form of a Web video last month (when he was originally expected to begin his term, before the sentencing was delayed due to dental surgery), in which he thanked his fans for their support and asked them not to forget about him while he serves his sentence, "because I will forever think about you. I cannot wait for you to see me again." More recently, he's been sending MTV News videos that document his activities leading up to his court date on Tuesday.
As in the past, MTV News has been following Wayne's legal situation every step of the way. And over the years, we've managed to speak to many of his fellow artists as they faced the prospects of jail time, or breathed a sigh of relief after being acquitted of very serious charges. Two of the most famous instances were a 1996 interview with Snoop Dogg, one day after he was found not guilty on a murder charge, and an in-depth conversation with Sean "Diddy" Combs, following his acquittal on bribery and gun-possession charges.
In our 1996 conversation with Snoop, he told us what was going through his mind as he stood waiting for his verdict to be read.
"I left it in God's hands. That's why I looked it, so stone-faced. I was just, I didn't have no expressions. You know what I'm sayin'? It was all inner. I prayed on it. My family prayed on it," Snoop said. "[My attorneys] did what they were supposed to do, and they gave the baton to the jury, and I couldn't do nothin' but just bank on them and worry about what the outcome was gonna be, as far as to just sit there and hold my position, and to keep my head up high. And just, you know, wait for the outcome."
In 2001, MTV News' Sway Calloway sat down with Combs, who had just been cleared of all charges after a six-week trial (and 15-month media firestorm) that stemmed from his then protégé Shyne firing a gun at a New York nightclub in 1999. And in our conversation, the rapper/producer made it clear that he relied on his faith to make it through the ordeal.
"Man, I just feel blessed. [That's] the first word that comes to mind. I was in a situation where the only way I could come out of it was by putting my faith in God. No matter how good my lawyers were, no matter how much celebrity I had, everything was just stacked up against me," Combs said. "I was innocent, but all the things that were coming out was just ... it just felt like ... oh, man, my worst nightmare. All the things personally [that] I was going through at the same time. God just really blessed me and got me sitting here with you today. ... It's been like a year and a half, life being on hold, just waiting to get this over with."
Of course, MTV News has also spoken with artists in prison, particularly Shyne, who was found guilty on two counts of assault for his involvement in the 1999 shooting in which Diddy was implicated before being cleared.
"You die in here, you know," Shyne told MTV News in 2004, three years into his sentence (he was released late last year and is currently in his native country of Belize). "Just like you could die on the [outside], you could die in here. They probably won't find your body for a couple days. This is just like the [outside], even worse. You got people that ain't going home ever, so their life is over. Being here is like being dead. And when you've got a dude who's got life, he don't care. He'll rip your heart out."
Of course, in 2008 MTV produced a series around [artist id="1225081"]T.I.[/artist]'s then-impending prison sentence called "T.I.'s Road to Redemption," and we also spent time with the MC before he began his 366-day jail sentence following felony gun charges. As he did in the series, T.I. remained upbeat about his prospects.
"At the end of the day I'm not going to be gone long enough to have any long-lasting effects," he said. "Of course, the initial emotion will be one of somber grief. But by the time they get over it, I'll be getting home. Compared to how bad it could have been, I think I made out all right."