US rapper Mystikal, who was convicted of sexual battery 20 years ago and recently cleared of a second allegation of rape and kidnapping, has spoken of his desire to move on from the sexually charged songs of his past and is seeing his career rekindle.
The Louisiana hip-hop star was speaking in one of his first interviews after first-degree rape and second-degree kidnapping charges stemming from a 2016 allegation were dismissed in December.
The rapper, who pleaded guilty in 2003 to sexual battery and served six years in prison, initially denied involvement with the woman and spent 18 months in jail before being released on a three million dollar (£2.2 million) bond.
Louisiana’s Caddo Parish District Attorney closed the investigation after new evidence was presented to a second grand jury that declined to bring an indictment, and the district attorney then filed to dismiss the charges.
The long ordeal “was like a reoccurring bad dream”, he said, adding: “I didn’t know how it was going to work out.”
He said: “When I look back and listen to the music, man — I was a nasty lil’ rapper.
“A lot of my music now, I imagine myself rapping it to God and if I can rap it, I’m proud.”
Now he wants to make changes to his career – and life – as he tries to find harmony beyond a troubled past.
Within days of the case’s dismissal, a blitz of film trailers for Eddie Murphy’s highly anticipated Coming 2 America film began airing, featuring Feel Right, Mystikal’s 2015 smash with Mark Ronson.
The New Orleans-born musician said he had no idea the song would be used, but he doesn’t believe in coincidences.
“It felt like God was winking his eye at me,” he said. “That’s what strengthens my spirituality right now, things like that.”