Crest Hill, Illinois – Common is one of Hip Hop’s most outspoken rappers in the game today, and when it comes to issues like the prison system and how it affects Black lives, the Chicago rapper isn’t one to sit back and watch things unfold.
On Tuesday (October 5), CBS Chicago reported that Common opened a fully functional recording studio inside Stateville Correctional Center in Cresthill, Illinois. Attorney Ari Williams initially came up with the idea to give the inmates at Stateville an opportunity to tap into their creativity while serving their respective sentences.
“The gentlemen who are incarcerated deserve access to better things in life so that’s why I fight for my city,” Common said. “And that’s why my heart is always with Chicago.”
Ari Williams added, “I know music brings us all together. I want them to be OK. I want them to do something they’ve love to do. And I know many of them are rappers. They love to rap and they love to sing.”
The inmates will learn music production and creation as well as recording in a 12-week course set up by Common’s non-profit organization, Imagine Justice. The program will also benefit the inmates when it comes to their sentences.
According to Alyssa Williams at the Department of Corrections, “Everyday they’re in this program [inmates] earn a day credit off of their sentence, as long as the statute allows for that.”
Common recently visited Ebro Darden on Apple Music 1 for an extensive conversation about his latest album, A Beautiful Revolution, Pt. 2. During the interview, Common spoke on the importance of activism and helping people who can’t get any help elsewhere.
“I think it’s really about us coming to understand as far as like, yo, if you’re going to speak up for people, the more you get to understand them and know them the more authentic it will be,” Common said. “The reason why I’m speaking up for a lot of people that’s incarcerated because I’ve been going to those prisons and meeting people. And now I can speak from a whole other perspective, you know? And I still respect if you’re going to speak up. It’s still love. I don’t care if you ain’t been to the hood… Dig in a little deeper. That’s all.”
Swedish music producer David Jassy did something similar last year for the inmates at San Quentin State Prison. San Quentin Mixtapes, Vol. 1 is a collection of songs written and performed by a select number of inmates at San Quentin State Prison that Jassy worked very closely with in the studio he built for them.
In four years, Jassy and a select group of inmates wrote, recorded and produced the entire mixtape. Celebrities and artists like Kim Kardashian West, J. Cole and Common caught wind of the project and visited San Quentin wasting no time showing their support.
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