Jordan McCann was in prison when the song that put him on the British rap radar was released. In the four-minute song, titled "Lifestyle", Jordan spoke about his life of crime and mentioned the people he grew up with in Salford.
"I put everyone in the cell and we barricaded the block and had a listening party. We just stayed there until they had all the extra personnel to run into the cell and get every one of us, because we were so excited," he recalls. he
“We all got in trouble, they took our TVs, everything, so we had nothing in our cells, but then I heard the song on Unity Radio and it was the most surreal moment. I get goosebumps looking out and every man is at his window yelling at me on four levels, it was the craziest feeling because I'm on the radio, man, it was crazy.
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The very music that he so enthusiastically celebrated was partly the reason he went back to jail. He had written and recorded the song while on probation at HMP Manchester.
Mindful of the terms of his license, he said he played the song for his probation officers so they would know what he was doing. But certain lineslike "get out of prison and do license shootings"-alarmed agents and took him back to prison. "I said it because I did it," he says today.
Jordan remembers the day he said he was stripped down to his underpants by an over-armed squad of police officers on his way to a meeting with his probation officer, and says he understands now. When he looks at his criminal record, he thinks he deserves that and more.
McCann, 28, was in the spotlight long before he started rapping. He is a member of the Amblecote Estate in Little Hulton. known salfordfamilyand his youth was riddled with insults: violence, armed robbery, gang membership and drug dealing, he admits.
Jordan says he had an "incredible" childhood, but acknowledges that he "normalized" the dark things he saw growing up, like domestic violence, shootings and stabbings.
“I couldn't see beyond that area, all I cared about was that area. "I have to sell most of the drugs in this area, I have to be the main person in this area," she says.
“I would burn inside, whereas now I don't have any of those tendencies. We just normalized everything, now I'm a little older and I see how people should treat each other.
"You know it's wrong, but it didn't affect us massively, we saw people get stabbed, shot, robbed and that's how it goes."
However, a life of crime has been stressful for Jordan, who describes it as "the wrong life in the world." Speaking of the moment she realized it was all a 'trap,' she said: "I had just gotten my third, fourth sentence, I had just turned 19 and I was turning six and a half. I was like, 'I'm not going to go back I've been home for years, I've lived with all these people, I've lived by that damn code, I've been the most loyal guy, I've been the most honest guy in the world.
"I just realized, 'Pang', that this life is the worst life in the world." After growing up in prison and seeing so many settings and people that I look up to and seeing some of the moves they make themselves, I realized that it's inevitable in this life that bad things will come, nothing good will come when it comes to money. if the girls get involved, people will fuck people.
"I just realized that the path is a serious trap and it's an 'oh I want to be a gangster, I want to be somebody' mentality, but you're making a mistake that's going to piss you off for the rest of your life.
“Who cares about the streets, who cares who did what to whom? I need a house, I need credit, I need a car, I want a baby, I want a dog, I want a life."
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McCann was just 13 when he was arrested for attempted robbery, and when he got out, it wasn't long before he returned. For 11 years, the doors of some of the most notorious juvenile and adult prisons turned towards him.
Describing how little the penalties deterred him from a life of crime, he said, "Coming out of prison I felt like that guy! It felt like a badge of honor."
"I got home, had a big party at my house, cut my tag the first night, ran away for about two weeks, and went back to jail."
One of the prisons Jordan was sent to as a troubled youth was a notorious security training center, which was closed after an investigation uncovered historical cases of physical and sexual abuse.
Describing his time there, he says that while the unit's strict regimen gave him a sense of discipline and structure, he was subjected to physical abuse that haunts him to this day. "That was my first experience of real abuse, it was like torture at the hands of these bastards. You never meet people like that," he says.
“This was exclusively for people who serve life, they are baby killers, people who killed their own mothers and fathers, families and I worked for eight months and they sent me there. There was a training camp here, so you had to train there, get up at 6 am, make your bed, they will come for an inspection, if the bed is dirty, you cannot leave the cell.
"When you left your block, they had a jungle gym where you had to go for a walk every morning. It was probably for the best for me, it made me physically fit and I got some education there.
“But it was a very, very bad place, just looking at the photos of the building gives you goosebumps. To be honest, it made me worse, I didn't care anymore.
“Before I was afraid of getting slapped, but after so many slaps on the (unit) I literally didn't give a shit. It was a bad place man even after all the arrests I've been through this place is the one that gets me the most for all the homie abuse even from the big kids.
In 2016, she was one of 11 people, including her brother.Patricio McCann, who is serving time for firearms offences, is due to receive a civil "gang" warrant as part of a police operation to deal with a series of shootings between rival gangs. An operation that, according to Jordan, "upset the life of his family", but he again admits that the police actions are "understandable".
“They attacked my whole family, they attacked everyone who performed for me,” he says. He had never seen the police work like this, every day it was: 'Vagabonds! Open the door, open the door! Which is understandable.
“It caused a huge rift in the family, which is just what they did, divide and conquer. At the time, I was in a frame of mind where I hated the police, but now I understand that my actions deserved that and probably more.
"I've caused a lot of bad things in my life, so sometimes I feel like I don't deserve what's happening, but what can I do? I can't just not appreciate it and not do this."
But he still raps with vivid clarity about the present and still demands the release of his imprisoned friends and family. So why would people give you the time of day?
Of his lyrics, Jordan said that he can only speak of his "reality" and that each song is a warning and motivation for those who find themselves in the same position as him once upon a time.
Last year marked Jordan's first 12 months without going back to prison. He stayed on his toes thanks to a music career that saw him tour 21 cities in just one week, racking up millions of views on his music videos and working on his latest mixtape called Crooks and Queens, which was recorded at the legendary Abbey Road. and includes songs with renowned artists such as Morrison, Tion Wayne and Ard Adz.
"Somewhere from Little Hulton to Abbey Road, that's crazy bro," he says in disbelief.
He also starred in the popular Amazon Prime rap-opera series Jungle, starring opposite Dizzy Rascal and Tinie Tempah. However, Rap's life has not been easy. Jordan says he experienced some setbacks in the form of "confrontations" due to his past, friction with his loved ones and people who doubted a Salfordian could be a chart-topping rapper.
“It's never going to end, if you do something from a place like this, people won't understand. I've had clashes and there's always someone trying where I go, but it's part of the job,” she said.
“Many people doubted me at first, were confused about what I was doing and tried to put me down. I was the first person to do this since Salford, they couldn't see it in their heads.
"People didn't get it, but last year I liked the song."
Despite his success, he says that rap has caused some problems with his jailed brother, Patrick. "It's been two years since I spoke to my brother because he thought he was going to punish him with more penalties.
“But I thought, 'I have nothing left, this is my last chance for all of us.' I still love him."
Jordan started rapping in 2018 as part of a prison show at HMP Nottingham. In prison, the prisoners had to be working or studying and had to take various courses.
One of those classes was a music class where your music could be played on the National Prison Radio channel. Jordan says that when he started the course he was convinced he didn't want to rap because he had built a reputation as a Salford shooter.
"It was a huge step for me to rap bro, a leap you wouldn't believe! I couldn't even tell anyone I was rapping," he said.
“I was like, 'I'm Jordan from Salford, I'm a shooter, I don't rap, I don't talk to the police, I don't have iPhones.' That was the brainless mentality, I was so selfish, I was so caught up in this frame of mind than anyone else would think."
Jordan ultimately found inspiration in the Lifers, who were on the same path and painfully expressed themselves through their own music. At 24, she wrote her first lyrics for a song called "Jailgirl" dedicated to an ex-girlfriend.
“This is for my prison girl, this is for my wife, the police called when I first heard you cry,” Jordan sings.
The rap career brought him not only fame but also financial success. “When I left I had money in streams, I charged for performances and I started selling my music, doing shows. I'm not a millionaire or anything but I did make around £100k.
He helped me renovate my mother's house and buy cars for the family. I give it my all, I like to see my family happy."
Her success allowed her to travel, which she says gave her a different perspective on life. A perspective that he tried to convey to others who are offended. Soon, she'll be touring prisons teaching inmates how to write and record music with Eva Hamilton MBE, CEO of a charity called Key4Life, which helps incarcerated youth.
"Since I came out, I've traveled quite a bit, been treated like a human being and seen how people are treated.
"When I go back to my space, I can look at people and situations and I can feel that, I can feel the pain on a different scale. I look at people and I think, 'You'll never make it, bro.' because they haven't changed their Mindset. .
"I'm not trying to be a neighborhood hero, but I feel like it's my right, my duty. I have to tell people not to stay in these areas, not to accept what their lives are because that's what their people do. families.
"I was the worst of the worst people and if I can see it, anyone can."