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Tony Yayo Releases "Felon"

G Unit rapper enjoying life out of the clink

August 30, 2005 12:00 AM ET

While fellow G Unit members 50 Cent, Young Buck and Lloyd Banks were racking up hit records, Tony Yayo was doing time for weapon possession and passport fraud charges.

"Before I got locked up, me, 50 and Banks were riding around in a car with vests on, with no A.C. during the summers," says the G Unit hypeman, who was released from prison in May of last year and has since done more time under house arrest in New York City. "I come back and everybody got cars, mansions and condos. It's amazing. Some days I still got to wake up and pinch myself."

Fresh off the Anger Management tour, Yayo, who just landed a sneaker deal with Reebok, releases Thoughts of a Predicate Felon today. For his long-delayed and aptly titled debut, the rapper got some help from his friends. "When I was on house arrest, 50 would come over to my studio in my condo, and we made music," Yayo says. "I also got my favorite white boy, Eminem."

Thoughts also features production by Dr. Dre and Mobb Deep's Havoc, and guest spots from Obie Trice and Jagged Edge. But, despite all the hip-hop talent, Yayo's favorite track is "Curious," recorded with smooth soul singer Joe. "That's the first time I ever wrote an R&B hook," Yayo says of the song, which displays his softer side. "You know, I haven't been around the ladies in almost two years, so that's my next single."

And Yayo reports that the early returns are good: "I had a menage a trois in West Palm Beach . . . It was crazy."

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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