Beanie Sigel Biography

Dwight Grant, 6 March 1974, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Despite releasing albums that have crossed over to the upper regions of the US album charts, rapper Beanie Sigel’s troubles with the law have seemingly completely overshadowed his talents.

Raised in tough south Philadelphia by his former prison guard mother, the young Dwight Grant showed vocal talent by gospel singing in his local church, before focusing on his rhyming skills. During his teen years, Grant became known as Beanie Sigel, a moniker comprised of a nickname his grandmother gave him early on, as well as a nearby street that he and his pals would hang out at, Sigel Street. It was not long before Sigel began showing off his blossoming rap skills, entering rap battles with other local youths. It was also during this time that Sigel found himself in trouble with the law, as he was charged with aggravated assault and drug dealing charges. He received a conviction in 1995 for drug trafficking, but was placed on probation rather than sentenced to prison.

Word soon spread about Sigel’s rapping skills owing to memorable appearances on record with DJ Clue? and the Roots. Sigel auditioned during 1998 for Jay-Z and head of the Roc-A-Fella label, Damon Dash, with the duo suitably impressed to offer him a recording contract. The rapper guested on other artist’s recordings, including spots on albums by Jay-Z, Memphis Bleek, and Puff Daddy, before his own debut, The Truth, appeared in 1999. Sigel’s follow-up, The Reason, was released two years later, in addition to further guest appearances on other rapper’s recordings. As a result of his chart success, Sigel helped open the door for other local Philadelphia acts, including Philly’s Most Wanted, Major Figgas, and Ms. Jade.

Despite his success, Sigel could not keep out of trouble with the law, as he received a federal weapons charge soon after, in addition to allegedly shooting an acquaintance in west Philadelphia. Sigel was arrested by police in July 2003 after a performance at the Tweeter Center in Camden, Philadelphia (as part of the Rock The Mic tour with Jay-Z), and was sentenced to house arrest. The following October he was sentenced to a year in federal prison on the gun-possession charge. His new single ‘Don’t Stop’ was released in March 2005 while the rapper was still incarcerated. The album The B. Coming arrived in the US Top 5 a month later. Sigel was released in August 2005, but further misdemeanours have bedevilled his career.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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