Mystikal is stepping back into the limelight after being released from prison ... taking the stage for his first big performance after spending 18 months behind bars on rape charges.
The rapper made a surprise appearance Saturday night at Funk Fest in Orlando in his first major gig since getting out of prison ... and the crowd went wild, welcoming him back with open arms!
Mystikal got a special introduction from Doug E. Fresh ... and then launched into his throwback hits, performing "Move B*tch" and "Shake Ya A**" in front of thousands of screaming fans.
It's a triumphant return to the spotlight for Mystikal ... Funk Fest is a huge two-day festival, with headlining performances from T.I., Erykah Badu, Jeezy and Plies.
We broke the story ... Mystikal was released from a Louisiana prison back in February once he was finally able to scrape together $3 million for his bond. The money came from an advance for a new recording deal, plus fund raised by Mystikal's friends and family.
Mystikal snapped a pic with his lawyers on his way out and said he was thankful for the opportunity to get back to being a father and working on his music.
Mystikal was hyped up after his set ... thanking his fans for the love and reflecting on his long road back to the top.