Christian rapper Prime Minister was born Andre Ford in Rockford, IL; growing up a notorious gangbanger on the streets of Chicago, he was once tried for attempted murder, and spent time both in prison and in a psychiatric ward. He turned to performing in 1986, opening tour dates for acts including Bobby Brown, Ice Cube, De La Soul and the Geto Boys; becoming a born-again Christian, Prime Minister continued honing his skills in the relative anonymity of Rockford, taking top honors in a series of contests and winning the local RAMA Award for Best Rap/Hip-Hop artist in 1996 and 1997. His debut album, Prime Time
, followed on the Grapetree label in 1999; Inside Out
was issued in fall 2000.