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"I consider Turk a real friend. I’m heartbroken about his current woes. His new record will help fund his legal efforts and will appeal to Hot Boys fans."
——Alan Grunblatt, Koch GM/EVP on inking jailed rapper Turk

JAILHOUSE RAP

Do Signings of Imprisoned Rappers Shyne, Turk Mark the Start of New Trend?
Rap and prison have been cellmates since back in the day of Tupac and Snoop Dogg, when rappers were accused of committing crimes like rape and murder, then incarcerated.

These days, it’s the other way around, as hip-hop icons first go behind bars, only to emerge with label deals when—or if—they get released.

In the same week Def Jam’s Kevin Liles inked imprisoned rapper Jamal "Shyne" Barrow to what some insiders are saying could be as much as a $7 million pact, Koch Records announced the release of the third solo album from former Cash Money rapper Tab "Turk" Virgil. The former member of New Orleans’ Hot Boys is currently jailed on charges of attempted murder of a Memphis deputy sheriff.

The 25-year-old Shyne is serving a 10-year term for gun possession and assault in an upstate N.Y. prison for firing a gun in a 1999 New York nightclub shooting that involved P. Diddy back when he was known as Puff Daddy. Shyne released his self-titled debut back in Sept. 2000 for Sean "Daddy/Diddy" Combs’ then-Arista-distribbed Bad Boy label. The record produced a modest hit in "Bad Boyz" and has sold 900k records to date, with Shyne’s deep-throated style evoking comparisons to Combs pal Notorious B.I.G. The rapper won’t be eligible for parole until 2009, and now refers to his one-time mentor as a "snitch."

The proposed album’s 10 tracks, which would come out on the rapper’s own Gangland Records imprint, were recorded before he began serving his sentence. The project reportedly spurred a bidding war that involved both Sony and Warner. The album can’t have anything to do with the crime itself, because N.Y.’s "Son of Sam" law doesn’t allow convicts to profit from the criminal act for which they’re imprisoned.

Meanwhile, rapper Turk will release his latest effort, Penitentiary Chances, on April 27. The rapper, currently being held in maximum security in a Memphis jail, maintains his innocence. Koch Records has helped set up a legal defense fund for the 23-year-old.

Label GM/EVP Alan Grunblatt defends his signing of the hip-hop performer: "I consider Turk a real friend. I’m heartbroken about his current woes. His new record will help fund his legal efforts and will appeal to Hot Boys fans."

The album includes tracks like "Raw and Off the Chain," "Get It How I Live" and "I Ain’t Just Rapping."

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