Music Recorded Inside (and Out) of Prison Helping to Push Conversations about Reform
Date:  06-21-2018

"Die Jim Crow" EP puts stories of the struggles of incarceration and reintegration to music
(Full disclosure: Reentry Central’s Managing Editor Beatrice Codianni contributed to the Kickstarter campaign to produce and launch the Die Jim Crow EP in 2016.)

From Rolling Stone:

In May 2015, B.L. Shirelle was finishing up a prison term at Muncy State Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania. She felt apprehensive about her imminent return to civilian life, having spent most of her last decade behind bars, and this tension served as the basis for a track titled "Headed to the Streets." "It took me maybe 15 minutes to write that song," Shirelle tells Rolling Stone. "I had all that anxiety in real time."

Fury Young, an activist-musician-filmmaker and the founder of the multimedia project Die Jim Crow, took Shirelle's lyrics to Anthony McKinney and Mark B. Springer, who are both serving life sentences at Warren Correctional Institution in Ohio, and the two set the words to music. Young recorded McKinney, who contributed an urgent singing part to the track, in prison later that year. When Shirelle was released, she added her own vocals, rapping over a rugged amalgam of distorted guitar and staggered drums.

The video for "Headed to the Streets," the first single from the Die Jim Crow project to be available on third-party streaming services, is out today. "The song is showing how vulnerable a state it is to be in coming out of prison," Shirelle explains. "Be mindful. If you have a business, give somebody a shot." She can be seen rapping in the agitated "Headed to the Streets" video, which merges modern prison images with old photos of black male prisoners doing forced labor. At one point, Shirelle takes an axe and starts chopping up a fake prison cot. Continue reading >>>