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Prison Song

Prison Song DVD cover
Directed by Darnell Martin
Produced by Robert De Niro
Brad Epstein
Jane Rosenthal
Written by Q-Tip
Darnell Martin
Starring Q-Tip
Mary J. Blige
Harold Perrineau
Cinematography Alexander Gruszynski
Editing by Peter C. Frank
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date(s) April 27, 2001
Running time 94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
For other meanings of Prison Song please see Prison Song (disambiguation).

Prison Song is a 2001 United States prison film about a boy brought up in group homes with a gift and passion for art.



The film centers around a character named Elijah (Q-Tip), who is an adolescent (Justin 'DJ Jus' Spaulding) at the story’s outset. His mother (Mary J. Blige) is a hard-working woman who’s spent the last several years attending night school – with the eventual goal of becoming a lawyer. But given that she’s from a lower class area, she’s having a tough time finding employment as a legal secretary. Her fiance, Cee (Harold Perrineau), a photographer and supporter of the family who has a genuine bond with Elijah later is incarcerated after assaulting an officer who began harassing him on a street corner where he was working taking pictures of pedestirans that passed by. He ends up serving twenty-five to life term for having three consecutive charges.

Later that night Elijah finds himself incarcerated at a juvenile correctional facility for a prank played on a police officer. When his mother comes to get him and is told he could not be released Elijah is taken from her with both trying their best to get to one another. She assaults and officer with a gun and then is taked off to a mental institution. The officer she assaulted tried to stop her when she tries to take Elijah out of the facility. Elijah has one visit with his mother who is unaware of her surroundings due to obvious medication given from the facility. Elijah goes to bed that night with visions of Cee getting arrested and his mother being taken away. The film picks up years later, and Elijah is now a sensitive adult with dreams of becoming an artist. He’s offered a spot at a prestigious art school under scholarship, but it gets taken away and is now unable to afford the tuition. Much to the chagrin of Cee who Elijah still see's through prison visits, Elijah considers a foray into the world of drug dealing. Though he eventually decides against that route, he winds up in jail for accidentally killing one of his foster brothers Big Pete (Fat Joe) by pushing him on to the subway tracks during an altercation. It’s there that Elijah is faced with a prison term of fifteen to life and endures hardships throughout his prison sentence. He gets the chance to escape but goes back and helps a friend. He ends up getting stuck in between a four wall fence and is shot his art later ends up going in an art gallery.



  • The film was originally intended to be a full-fledged musical, but this tested poorly with audiences, so most of the musical numbers - except the most essential to the story - were cut. This helps explain the mysterious appearance of Elvis Costello in two roles in which he does very little.
  • Violent J of the Insane Clown Posse was offered a role as a security guard but turned it down because he wasn't permitted to wear clown makeup.
  • In the scene when Cee is getting arrested by the police, you can see a cab in the background advertising The Lion King.

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