Common builds recording studios in Stateville for inmates

Inmates at Chicago’s Stateville Correctional Center benefit from a state-of-the-art music studio, thanks to the activist and rapper Commmon.

The Chicago native has used his influence and resources to create a productive program that empowers incarcerated people to express themselves creatively, reports WBBM-TV CBS-Chicago television channel. The three-time Grammy winner will offer inmates guidance and inspiration for learning music production.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 16: Common performs at the 43rd Annual BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival – Club Quarantine Live: D-Nice with special guests at Prospect Park Bandshell on September 16, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

“Gentlemen who are incarcerated deserve to have access to better things in life, which is why I fight for my city. That’s why my heart is always with Chicago,” Common said during his speech at the Illinois Corrections Center. “Being from Chicago is one of the greatest gifts and assets for me in my career and in my life.”

Common added, “It’s our life’s work and we’re committed to it.”

The Stateville studio will be equipped with mixers, microphones and other musical instruments. Support for the studio came from a family connection and a young lawyer Ari Williams, who believes that music taps into what serves all inmates at Stateville Correctional Center. The first class will welcome nine students ready to learn about musical production.

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

Williams added that the state-of-the-art studio “brings so much hope for them and inspiration for ‘inmates’ to know that people actually care about them, it can change them too.”

This creative musical endeavor follows the September 10 release of Common’s latest album, “A Beautiful Revolution (Pt. 2)”. He also aligns himself with the rapper non-profit, Imagine Justice, which offers a 12-week course to shorten sentences for eligible inmates. According to the organization’s website, Imagine Justice collectively calls on “elected officials to release those who have served most of their sentence and provide them with adequate testing and resources upon release.”

CBS Chicago also reports that Imagine Justice will cover funding for professionals who teach classes under Stateville’s program.