Multi-talented rapper and actor Common created a new space at a local Chicago jail that allows inmates to exit the prison cell and enter a music studio.
The Oscar, Emmy and Grammy-winning Chicago native used his resources and star power to create an integrated music studio in the Stateville Correctional Facility. Inmates now have a rare opportunity to learn more about music production and put their freestyle skills to use.
“The gentlemen who are incarcerated deserve to have access to better things in life, which is why I am fighting for my city,” Common said. “And that’s why my heart is always with Chicago.”
The prison program is part of several charitable projects of Common and its nonprofit, Imagine Justice. The organization’s mission is to provide community, civic engagement and mental well-being to underprivileged communities in the hope of inspiring change.
Imagine Justice is launching a 12-week course for Stateville inmates to learn more about the music production landscape. They will have a fully equipped studio with access to mixers, microphones, sound panels and musical instruments. Inmates who participate in the course may also receive a shorter sentence.
Common said he was trying to give back to his hometown where he found his inspiration and advice.
“Being from Chicago is one of the greatest gifts and assets for me in my career and my life,” he told CBS Chicago.
The innovative idea was created by the lawyer Ari williams, who wanted new and better solutions for prisoners to find outlets while serving their sentences.
“I know music brings us all together. I want them to be OK. I want them to do something they love to do, ”Williams told CBS Chicago. “And I know a lot of them are rappers. They love to rap and they love to sing.
“It gives them so much hope and inspiration. That they know people really care about them can change them too, ”said Williams.