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Common opens fully equipped studio in correctional facility in his hometown


Chicago native and Grammy award-winning rapper Common made an imprint this past Tuesday for incarcerated inmates inside the Stateville Correctional Center in Cresthill, Ill., reports Afro Tech.

The inmates will receive a rare opportunity to tap into their creative endeavors with the incorporation of a built-in studio. The idea was conceptualized by Attorney Ari Williams, who was seeking alternative solutions for inmates to find outlets while fulfilling their sentences.

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

Tapping into horizontal networking, Williams was able to contact Common to bring her vision to light. The native rapper utilized his platform to craft the studio space, which will provide tangible resources and a creative outlet.

“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.”

The rapper has placed a laser focus on incarcerated folks since 2017 through his nonprofit Imagine Justice. The company’s mission is to provide community, civic engagement and mental wellness to disadvantaged communities with the hope to inspire change. Imagine Justice will launch a 12-week course for the Stateville inmates to learn about the landscape of music production. They will have a fully equipped studio with access to mixing boards, microphones, sound panels and musical instruments. Inmates who partake in the course are also said to receive a shorter sentence.

“Everyday they’re in this program they’ll earn a day credit off of their sentence, as long as the statute allows for that,” Alyssa Williams, the Department of Corrections said.