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‘I Want Them to be OK’: Common Builds Recording Studios In Stateville For Inmates

Inmates at Stateville Correctional Center in Chicago are getting a state-of-the-art music studio, thanks to activist and rapper Common.

The Chicago native used his influence and resources to create a productive program for incarcerated people to express themselves creatively, reports TV station WBBM-TV CBS-Chicago. The three-time Grammy winner will offer inmates guidance and inspiration to learn music production.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 16: Common performs during the 43rd Annual BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival – Club Quarantine Live: D-Nice with Special Guests at Prospect Park Bandshell on September 16, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

“The gentlemen who are incarcerated deserve access to better things in life so that’s why I fight for my city. That’s why my heart is always with Chicago,” Common declared during his speech at the Illinois Corrections Center. “Being from Chicago is one of the greatest gifts and assets to me in my career and my life.”

Common added, “This is our life’s work and we’re committed to this.”

The studio at Stateville will come equipped with mixing boards, microphones and other musical instruments. Support for the studio came from a family connection and young attorney Ari Williams, who believes music taps into what serves all the inmates at Stateville Correctional Center. The first class will host nine students ready to learn about music production.

“I know music brings us all together. I want them to be OK. I want them to do something they love to do,” Williams said. “And I know many of them are rappers. They love to rap and they love to sing.”

Williams added that the state-of-the-art studio “brings so much hope for them and inspiration for” the inmates “to know people actually care about them, that can change them as well.”

This creative music endeavor follows the Sept. 10 release of Common’s latest album, “A Beautiful Revolution (Pt. 2).” It also aligns with the rapper’s nonprofit, Imagine Justice, which offers a 12-week course to shorten sentences for eligible inmates. According to the organization’s site, Imagine Justice collectively calls “on elected officials to release individuals who have served most of their sentences and provide them with adequate testing and resources upon their release.”

CBS Chicago also reports Imagine Justice will cover funding for professionals, who provide instruction at the Stateville’s program.

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