Alicia Keys' "tough mama" stopped her falling in with a bad crowd.

The 'Empire State of Mind' hitmaker - whose father walked out on her mother when she was two years old - admits she has seen a lot of people she grew up with in the tough Hell's Kitchen area of New York end up in prison, and knew she had to make the right choices to avoid going down the wrong path.

She said: "I had to decide if I was going to do the right thing or the wrong thing, take drugs or not take drugs, or end up getting in the wrong scenario.

"So many people I knew ended up in jail.

"How did I avoid it? I had a really tough mama."

Alicia - who has a nine-month-old son Egypt with husband Swizz Beatz - admits she has had to work hard to reach her goals, but insists she has always accepted that is what she needed to do because of her upbringing.

She explained in an interview with The Guardian newspaper: "I just see it as having to do what I had to do to be heard. Growing up in New York City, everybody wanted to be heard, so you had to do the work."