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Popular in prison

By - | January 11th 2013

They may be locked up but United Kingdom (UK) prisoners still get to listen to their own radio station, National Prison Radio where they even place music requests. Shirley Genga profiles the most popular artistes in UK prisons

Tupac Shakur

The rapper who died in 1996 has been named the most popular artiste among prisoners in UK jails. Tupac topped the National Prison Radio (NPR) 2012 playlist.

Vybz Kartel

The controversial Jamaican dancehall singer and songwriter as well as shrewd businessman Vybz Kartel came in second. Ironically, he is also in jail for murder. On September 29, 2011, police arrested Kartel. Jamaica’s Major Investigation Taskforce (MIT) charged him with murder, conspiracy to murder and illegal possession of a firearm.

K Koke

The rapper who comes in third is part of one of the UK most popular underground rap group USG. His first mix tape Pure Koke Volume One was an instant hit and immediately caught the attention of huge record labels. As a result he was signed with Roc Nation of Entertainment CA and in the process of releasing his album he was arrested for attempted murder. Koke was charged with attempted murder. Koke’s record deal with Roc Nation has not been affected by his arrest but it stunted his growth for a year. He stood trial on October 4, 2011 and was acquitted of all charges on November 3, 2011 after seven months on remand. Pure Koke Volume Two was released but it received little promotion and attention due to his jail time. He later released another mix tape in 2012; Pure Koke Volume Three and is slated to release an album, I Ain’t Perfect, this year.


The singer who has had twelve number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and has sold 100 million records worldwide since the beginning of her singing career in 2005 — becoming the youngest solo artiste to achieve the feat — is also a favourite in UK jails. Her latest album Unapologetic (2012) was preceded by the lead single Diamonds, which became Rihanna’s twelfth number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Also Billboard named Rihanna the Digital Songs Artiste of the 2000s decade, and ranked her as the seventeenth overall artiste of the same decade.


The Canadian recording artiste, rapper, songwriter, and actor may have a squeaky clean record (has never been to jail) except maybe for his bar brawl with Chris Brown over Rihanna’s honour, but for some reason he is another jail favourite. Drake has accomplished much since he first came into the rap scene in 2010 when he released his debut album. Having sold 42 million albums worldwide, he has had ten number-one singles. In fact, he has more number ones than any other rapper on Billboard’s R&B and Hip-Hop Songs chart after passing Jay-Z’s recording in August 2012. He is also one of two artistes (the other being 50 Cent) who have simultaneously occupied the chart’s top three positions.


The Senegalese born American R&B and hip-hop recording artiste, songwriter, record producer and businessman is also very relevant in the UK Prisons. Maybe it has something to do with his 2004 debut album Trouble?


The band, which has on a number of occasions been connected with Satanism, is the highest band at seven. They are an American heavy metal band whose music is a mixture of fast tempos and aggressive instrumentals and strange lyrics. The band has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide.

Others on the list include Pink Floyd, Notorious BIG, Gyptian, Jah Cure, Slipknot, UB40, Bob Marley, Lil Wayne, Eminem, Evanescence and Mavado in that order.

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