Title - '16 Bars' (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Artist - Various
In the spring of 2017, Atlanta-based Grammy-winner Speech Thomas, from the hip-hop crew Arrested Development, traveled to Virginia with the goal of recording an album behind bars.
Speech was invited to the Richmond Jail by Sheriff C.T. Woody Jr., who was implementing a rehabilitation program that included job training, substance abuse treatment, group therapy, and a makeshift recording studio.
In a small concrete room on the jail’s 6th floor, Speech met with four men in the REAL program—Teddy, Anthony, De’vonte and Garland—listened to their stories and collaborated with them on original compositions and lyrics.
The process, captured by Brooklyn-based filmmakers at Resonant Pictures, became the documentary film 16 Bars.
Releasing on November 8th, 2019 via Lightyear/Caroline/UMG digitally and on Vinyl LP, 16 Bars: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) is an incredible 14-track musical experience that shines a light on those incarcerated that still have a voice to be heard.
1. Speech's Intro
2. 'Inspire' - Teddy Kane [feat. Positive Impact Choir]
3. 'Lost One' - Teddy Kane
4. 'Where My Daddy At?' - Teddy Kane
5. Speech's Interlude #1
6. 'Recidivism' - Anthony Johnston [feat. Speech]
7. 'Broken Chains' - Devonte James [feat. Speech]
8. Speech's Interlude #2
9. 'Lay My Burden Down' - Garland Carr [feat. The REAL Program Chorus]
10. 'Freedom Wind' - Garland Carr
11. 'Steam Train Salvation' - Garland Carr
12. 'Two Stamps' - Garland Carr
13. Speech's Outro
14. 'Trauma' - Arrested Development [feat. Daunta] (Bonus Track)
Two-time Grammy-winner Speech Thomas is widely considered one of the godfathers of conscious hip-hop. His band Arrested Development’s 1993 debut album 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life of… went quadruple platinum and achieved what few thought was possible at the time, establishing an Afrocentric alternative to gangster rap that was commercially viable.
25 years later, Speech continues to tour the world with his band and seek out opportunities to use music to address issues of social and racial justice.
The film, and this album, documents his journey to the Richmond City Jail, where he conducted music workshops with inmates. His goal was to shed light on the complex issues in our criminal justice system by bringing the voices and stories of incarcerated people to a larger audience.
Listening to this music now twice through I can honestly say he not only brought forth their musical prowess, but has shone a wonderful light on what was always to be one of the darkest places to ever peer into.
The four featured artists are: Teddy Kane, Garland Carr, Anthony Johnston, and Devonte James. All the basic tracks, rapping and singing were recorded in the Richmond City Jail.
The album is somewhat eclectic. There is music here that will appeal to Hip-Hop, Blues, Outlaw Country, Gospel, and Americana. The rap music here is personal and conscious, in the vein of stars such as Kendrick Lamar and 2Pac. Garland Carr, on the other hand, may remind you of a young Johnny Cash.
Indeed, 'Inspire' was sweetened by a children’s choir (who Speech recorded in his home studio, at the artist’s request) and 'Lay My Burden Down' features a gospel choir comprised of fellow inmates and was recorded in the facility’s cafeteria.
Speech contributes a number of spoken word interludes, and there is a Bonus Track to be found in the form of Arrested Development’s 'Trauma' (f. Daunta).
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