The Project

A Project Summary and CD Review

When this project was begun in earnest last year, our intent was to engage many groups of ordinary youths mainly between the ages of 15 and 19 in writing and recording their own songs to address the gun violence they experience on a routine basis. It was hoped that their songs would reveal root causes of increasing gun violence that are overlooked by us adults who cannot view the world from their eyes. The amazing work of our young people helped to paint a picture of drug use and hustling, despair, hopelessness, gang affiliation, lack of parenting, educational shortcomings, thug mentality and other negative factors they deal with that contribute to this dilemma.
The 23 tracks on this CD written and recorded by nonprofessionals represent a wide variety of skill levels, but feature a constant display of creativity, dedication and commitment to the ADMIT Program’s principles of community service, social responsibility and teamwork.  Their diverse anti-gun violence tracks, produced in ADMIT Program sponsored recording sessions, include:

1. “A Mother’s Pain – Ms. Talabert’s Story” is the harrowing song that leads off the CD and it is a haunting story told by Ms. Regina Talabert about the shooting death of her daughter Noricia near their Florida City home. Ms. Talabert showed tremendous courage in accepting our invitation to come to the ADMIT Program’s recording and training studio to share her tragic saga in the hopes that young listeners can avoid gun violence to make others have to feel “A Mother’s Pain”. The background chorus is sung by the South Florida Boys and Girls Choir, with lead vocals by the young singer O.Square. This is a moving story by a courageous grieving mother who is trying to make a difference.

2. “I Want To Live” is an up-tempo hip-hop song by 5000 Role Models Turner Tech group that was recorded on-site through our mobile recording studio while using a choir on the chorus as directed by Mr. J Tyone Hilton. The title of this song states the obvious purpose of this entire anti-gun violence CD project, while expressing the importance of staying alive by avoiding dangerous situations.

3. “Like It’s A Riot” breaks the music back down and features the talents of African Heritage Cultural Arts Center participants in a smooth hip-hop song talking about what they see happening in their community as people are shooting each other “like it’s a riot”. This song is a departure from AHCAC’s Voice of Heritage and shows their versatility in creating hip-hop messages as well as choral arrangements.

4. “Mama, I’m Sorry” is a reflective story by Jordan of our featured spoken word group Norland Vikings Freedom Writers, coordinated by recent Miami-Dade Teacher of the Year Ms. Precious Symonette. Jordan gives a profound and regretful testimony in the first person as he tells his mother that he is sorry for getting murdered in the streets by gun violence.

5. “Let’s Stop the Violence!” is a mid-tempo hip-hop jam by Career Prep Academy (CPA) of South Miami Dade. CPA was the first group invited to come to ADMIT’s training and recording studio, create their track, then write and record their anti-gun violence song for this project. As you hear they came through with flying colors to set the pace for other groups to follow!

6. “Blood Shed, Tears Shed” features the highly skilled rappers Classic and Gari Flo representing their anti-violence organization Guitars Over Guns. Their contribution to this project was a candid story that featured their two verses recorded over a guitar flavored music track using ADMIT’s remote studio in a practice room at African Heritage Cultural Arts Center. Blood Shed, Tears Shed sums up the pain and trauma that happens when shots are fired in our community. The song also intelligently discussed what the writers view as some of the issues that cause gun violence such as gangs, identification with “that ride or die life”, drugs, lack of parental control, and lack of love and pride among young people sharing the same race and other characteristics.

7. “Books Up, Guns Down” by Richmond Perrine Optimist Academy Group 1 talks about the value of education as an alternative to and solution for gun violence. This special hip-hop song is also important because it features a verse by RPOA student Kemorie Wallace, who lost his life to gun violence last month on January 5th at the age of 19. The prophetic third verse that he sang was:

“Stop killing Stop killing Stop killing. Stop killing all these innocent children.
You’re trying to throw your life away. That’s how you’re living
The violence. The violence. The violence.
These teens wanna grab a gun. Man they’re wildin’
The only thing left is a casket. You’re trying to risk your loved ones for a casket
Don’t grab a pistol, come to the court and shoot a basket
The violence is a virus. You can’t tame it.
Families only have memories and pictures. They gotta frame it.
Put the gun down and stop aiming. Change your life around. Hey start changing
End the violence. End the violence and start changing!”

When Kemorie came with his group to ADMIT’s recording studio to produce the music, then write and record their song, he was viewed as an intelligent, smiling, introspective young man who got along with everyone. He was so willing to record his anti-gun violence message in his own unique style. The news of his passing hit us very hard at the ADMIT Program. He left a legacy of hope for all young people to follow to help our community try to overcome the gun violence that so tragically ended his life before he could witness the widespread release of his testimony. May Kemorie continue to live on through his powerful messages!

8. “R.I.P. Lil’ DJ” is a piece from Ni’Ja of the spoken word group Norland Vikings Freedom Writers that expresses her lingering pain after losing her brother to gun violence 2 years ago. This actual account is from Ni’Ja reliving her recent personal anguish and experiences, which makes her story even more real and poignant. All of NVFW’s recordings were done on site at Miami Norland Sr. High School in Miami Gardens as part of the students’ responses after listening to Ms. Talabert’s version of “A Mother’s Pain”.

9. “We Can Change Right Now!” is an affirming hip-hop song by Richmond Perrine Optimist Academy Group 2 taking a proactive stand on the gun violence issue with the second part of their hook: “Put the guns down and turn your life around. Stop the violence. We can change right now!”. In their verses students mentioned several factors that can reduce gun violence including phrases like: “Parents need to teach something instead of trying to be something”, “Kids need to start going back to church”, and “Get your education and learn some new skills”. Another excellent song from Principal Lance Williams’ charges!

10. “MDP4P” is a track featuring NVFW on the track with a previous DJ Khaled ADMIT Program sound drop now being used to hype up Miami-Dade Partners for Peace project. Thanks again for the love Khaled!!!

11. “A Mother’s Pain – Hip-hop Version” is a song recorded by gospel rap group RTM Soldiers for Christ comprised of 15-year old Don and Makail, with a featured performance by rapper Kira. The song was written and recorded in ADMIT’s studio in response to the pain expressed by Ms. Regina Talabert over the loss of her daughter Noricia. The tight young performers paint a grim picture of the real agony and heartbreak to families of gunshot victims, as they urge young listeners to stop killing each other.

12. “Been There, Done That!” is a song recorded on-site through ADMIT’s remote studio at the G.A.T.E. Program near Jackson Memorial Hospital. This program provides educational, counseling and other services to students involved in gun incidents in Miami-Dade County schools. Their song makes it clear that they have done some things with guns that landed them in serious trouble, and that packing a gun is not work the problems you face when you get caught. A very poignant warning song based in reality.

13. “Lifestyle” is the third of five spoken word pieces by Norland Vikings Freedom Writers. This one was written and performed with power and grace by Anthony. Anthony uses the term “lifestyle” to make it an actual person whose only goal is to lead him (and others like him) down a path of death and destruction. In the end he comes to recognize this intent and triumphs over “Lifestyle”, while stressing that you can too.

14. “If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me” was originally written as a theme song for the South Florida Boys and Girls Choir when the ADMIT Program donated free recording session to them almost two years ago. The song was based on their great mantra, which is the title. However, with the ever increasing gun violence afflicting our community, it was decided to make their statement a call to action to end gun violence. Several months later a new song was written and recorded at ADMIT’s training and recording studio with lead vocals by 12-year old Mya Fuller and raps by RTM Soldiers for Christ. These are the youngest performers on the CD since the project was mainly intended to involve older youth who are more prone to become gun victims and potential offenders. However, they did an outstanding job of delivering a very powerful message!

15. “Whatcha Gonna Do?” is the second of three uptempo songs by 5000 Role Model Project participants. This group is from Coral Reef High School and their chorus says it all:

Whacha gonna do when they come for you? I ain’t pulling out no gun!
Whacha gonna do when they come for you? I ain’t killing nobody’s son!
Drop that gun from out your hand. I’m trying to grow into a man.
I got my whole life ahead but I can’t live it if I’m dead.

Great short verses from about 10 participants follow this outstanding hook and it is obvious that the Coral Reef Role Models approached this project with the utmost seriousness. Big ups!!

16. “This Is How We Role!” by Hialeah 5000 Role Models Project is a third excellent group song (through Ms. Pamela Jones’ assistance they had the most participation!) from U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson’s esteemed program. The song, mixed to a reggaeton beat, talks about how they are making strides in Hialeah to address gun violence. As you see these MDP4P recording sessions are almost always group projects since we wanted to engage as many youth as possible and we wanted them to learn to practice group dynamics, teamwork and positive reinforcement of each other’s efforts. Also, most participants never wrote or recorded songs before and it was our intent to show them that anything was possible if they believed in the positive purpose of their efforts.

17. “Who Am I?” is a powerful spoken word piece by William of Norland Freedom Writers that candidly speaks about the anger and lack of concern for human life that occurs when evil planning is done to commit a drive-by shooting, that frequently ends up injuring the innocent.

18. “Education” by Youth Co-Op is Homestead speaks about the value of education as an alternative to and preventive factor to gun violence. This song was recorded using ADMIT’s mobile recording system. Mixing and editing was done at ADMIT’s main recording and training studio. The young artist AJ Myles is also featured on this song with the hook and spoken word piece.

19. “1-5-7” is an anti-gun violence song from Miami-Dade Police Department Police Explorers Post 157 from the South Region Station in Cutler Bay. This song was recorded over two sessions: both at ADMIT’s studio and during a remote recording session at the station. It was important for us to record young people who may eventually be involved in responding to these crimes. This gives them an opportunity to be a part of the prevention process when addressing their peers with the messages.

20. “What We Need” by African Heritage Cultural Arts Center Voices of Heritage is a soaring choral song written by one of the AHCAC participants and recorded remotely at the Center. This beautiful song features several lead voices that emphasize the need for the strength, love, peace and joy missing from the lives of so many of our youth.

21. “Only 17”, a vibrant spoken word piece by Prophet of Norland Vikings Freedom Writers, expresses the complications gained from witnessing so much trauma and so many criminal and other unwholesome acts at an early age. Prophet is on overdrive as he paints a reality based picture of his experiences, which certainly is a causal factor for the incidents of gun violence in his neighborhood.

22. “Keep The Guns Down!” was recorded August 2016 by youth from Circle of Brotherhood at Dorsey Skills Center in Liberty City using ADMIT’s remote recording system. This hip-hop writing and recording session was coordinated through Brother Lyle Muhammad to expose students in their summer program to different experiences and to engage them in the process of creating anti-gun violence songs to help protect their community.

23. “Drop It Down!” is an up-tempo hip-hop song recorded at Miami NAACP Youth Council at their after-school site in Miami Gardens through ADMIT’s remote recording system. This song features participants telling others to drop their weapons and make peace with each other. It is a fitting way to end this creative and expressive anti-gun violence mixtape CD product!