The song features Shaddy, a rapper who is serving time on murder chaarges in the La Victoria penitentiary.
Hip-hop artist Mozart La Para’s new video for the song “La Vida Es Así” (“That’s Life”) was shot entirely inside La Victoria National Penitentiary, a notorious prison in La Para’s native Dominican Republic.
La Para tells Billboard that the video was shot over four hours at the prison. "I was given authorization to shoot from 2 to 6,” he explains. “Because you know, after that, the prisoners have to be inside.” Released on YouTube on Friday, the song has been sounding through the halls of the prison, according to what those on the inside have told La Para. “They put it on all the TVs in every cell at the same time. And they played it over and over.”
The emotional video captures prisoners behind bars and in the yard and features rapper Shaddy, who is doing time for murder. Shaddy, whose real name is Juan Santiago Guante — also known as “Charly” — has launched a career as a rapper while incarcerated, gaining a following from prison by posting his music on Instagram, where La Para first saw him freestyling.
“I saw he had a lot of talent,” says La Para, who is signed to Roc Nation Latin. "I’m not getting anything out of it; it was to help him. This isn't about business. It’s like I identified with him, I put myself in his place. He’s in there with his talent and I wanted people to see him, to see that on a human level, that a person in jail could have talent, could have a good side.”
In the video for the hip-hop ballad, Shaddy admonishes listeners to “forget about the vanity of clubs and women” and urges them to value their home life. “You think that it doesn’t hurt my mother that she wants to hug me and she can’t?” he raps.
In a poignant moment, other prisoners join in the chorus: “Porque la vida es así, aprovechala porque es corta” (“Because that’s life, make the most of it because it’s short”).
Shaddy has served eight years of a 20-year sentence; he was 20 years old at the time of his arrest. According to Dominican newspaper reports, Guante and two co-defendants were convicted on charges of shooting and killing two 20-year-old men while they played basketball in a park in Santo Domingo in March 2011. Three others, ranging in age from 18 to 24, were injured by the gunfire.
“My songs are always happy and uplifting, but this song talks more about life,” La Para says of “La Vida Es Así," adding that he has not as yet received any negative comments about featuring Shaddy and other prisoners in his video. “It’s not for moving around to, it’s about sitting and listening to the lyrics. It's a song to pay attention to.”