On April 12th, Fusion and Univision Music’s new english-language vertical, TrackRecord, are holding an event to raise awareness about solitary confinement: HipHop 4 Human Rights is a free hip-hop concert and speak-out at West Capitol Park, steps away from the State Capitol in Albany, New York, where the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement will be holding its third annual advocacy day.
Rev Yearwood entered the world of Hip Hop Politics when he served as the Political and Grassroots Director of Russell Simmons’ Hip Hop Summit Action Network in 2003 and 2004. He was also a key architect of P. Diddy’s “Vote Or Die!” campaign. Then in 2004 he founded the Hip Hop Caucus to build a sustainable organization for Hip Hop politics.
Professor Ricky Jones sits as the head of the board for the correctional association of New York, and runs the Harlem restoration project, a housing development nonprofit org that provides returning citizens with post incarceration redirection. He pent almost 13 years in prison and over 5 years in solitary confinement.
Tyrrell Muhammad has served as Project Associate for the Correctional Association’s Prison Visiting Project since 2012. Each year, PVP visits seven to ten of New York State’s correctional facilities that house men, and issues facility-specific reports on prison conditions to both policymakers and the public, shedding light on problems and promoting effective and humane practices that we observe.
In 2005, Iesha Sekou decided to start a non-profit that would engage youth, providing resources to help them develop their talents and resist the ongoing trend towards violence in inner-city neighborhoods. Street Corner Resources creates a more peaceful community by providing teenagers and young adults greater access to real employment, education, training and other resources to assist them as they strive for success.
Her passion for the issue of wrongful convictions stems from her marriage to Jon-Adrian Velazquez and is currently fighting to prove his innocence. Though they are no longer together, Zulay decided to continue her activism for this important cause. She started her work in February 2012 and has since organized awareness marches, supported exonerees in court and attended panel discussions, homecomings, documentary screenings and speaking engagements.
As a nonprofit leader by day and hip-hop MC by night, Ahmen is the Batman of the social impact world. His #Troublemaker movement uniquely combines message and music to galvanize and give a voice to everyday people. His insights are from a likeable place, people want to hear them, and he simplifies it all to a beat. Ahmen was named as a “40 Under 40” Rising Star in the New York nonprofit community and he is releasing a new album this summer. Meet Ahmen: www.ahmen.us
Mysonne started his rap career by doing battles with other emerging artists like Shyne and DMX, getting major attention in the late 90’s. However, his debut album was never released, and he was convicted on two counts of armed robbery, though he maintains his innocence. Since his release in 2006, Mysonne has dedicated his life to his rap career, taking inspiration from his experience on the streets and in prison.
Dj Kay Slay made a name for himself originally as a graffiti artist, but as the graffiti movement waned he ended up being sent to jail in the 80’s for drug possession. When he got out, he swore off the drug scene and turned to hip-hop instead. He presided over some of the most notorious inter-artist rap feuds, releasing “Ether” for Nas in 2001. He hosts a popular show, the Drama Hour, on Hot 97, and in 2004 he became the head of A&R for Shaquille O’Neil’s label DEJA34.
Chi Ali was on his way to a promising rap career when in 2000 he was charged with first degree manslaughter. Upon being released in 2012, with an Associate’s degree in Behavioral Sciences and his personal experiences within a detrimental prison system, Chi Ali vowed to himself to be a part of the solution to these communities most affected by mass incarceration.
After thirty years of incarceration, Al Simon now works to get elderly and aging people in prison released. Release Aging People in Prison/RAPP is committed to doing just that. The number of people over age 50 in New York State, where RAPP was founded, has risen 81% since 2000; it now exceeds 9,000—more than 17% of the total incarcerated population.
Shabaka Shakur is an Exoneree who served 27 and 1/2 years in the New York State maximum security prison system for a double homicide he did not commit. After numerous years of litigating on his own behalf, he was able to re-open his case for review. Once freed, Shabaka began working as a paralegal at a law firm and set his mind to helping others who have also been wrongfully convicted.
Peter Gunz rose to hip-hop prominence in the late 90’s as one half of the rap duo Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz. Their leading single, “Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)” hit #9 on the Hot 100, but the band split up, and Peter went into management. He has worked with such artists as Big Pun, Fat Joe, and Mariah Carey, and these days he also manages his son, Cory Gunz, a rising rap star himself.
Solitary confinement consists of isolating people in closed cells for 22 to 23 hours a day. Isolation techniques have been condemned by human rights groups and the U.N. for their devastating physical and psychological effects; the U.N. officially recognizes solitary confinement as a form of torture.
Yet, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are more than 80,000 people held in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons–and this number does not account for jails and juvenile detention centers, where isolation techniques are also practiced.
Fusion is about independent, isolated elements interacting to create world-changing energy. Fusion media platforms offer engagement and influence with millennials who are leading and participating in global protest movements and a strong point of view in the areas of news and current events, politics, lifestyle and pop culture.
This summer, Univision’s music department is launching TrackRecord–a music news and discovery hub for a young and diverse audience. For more information visit www.trackrecordmedia.com and like TrackRecord on Facebook.