By Nyesha Stone
Three Midwest cities came together for one reason: to make a difference. True Skool teamed up with other organizations like their’s in Chicago and Detroit to create the, “Youth Fighting 4 Justice” (YF4J) vol. 1 mixtape.
Creative Development and Outreach Director of True Skool, Fidel Verdin worked with two to three other organization leaders to produce this mixtape. The process began in February/March of this year when True Skool met with Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY) to share ideas on how to highlight the youth’s work around the justice system. That conversation lead to True Skool going to Chicago to meet with an organization similar to True Skool to talk about the similarities the two cities have in common—police issues, lead in water and more.
CJNY is a national youth program that funded the “YF4J” mixtape. They brought Detroit into the project. These three cities are all more alike than different, so it only seemed right to work together to create music that could make a difference, according to Verdin.
“It’s always time for justice,” said Verdin and this mixtape tries to prove that.
A collective of different groups came together, with the youth at the lead of the discussion, to discuss how they could all work together. The youth came up with the idea of the mixtape, and then every task and role was assigned to different people—from the artwork to the mixing and mastering, everyone had a job.
To make it on YF4J certain criteria had to be met. After constant discussions and rewording, the criteria came down to this: artist had to be 30 or under, the material had to touch on experiences related to the justice system, police contact or how to fix the problem and no explicit lyrics.
Jene Tate, program assistant and public ally fellow of True Skool and previous True Skool participant, felt it was important to create this mixtape to give the youth a voice.
“We’re all fighting for the same thing,” said Tate.
Tate wrote and recorded track #4 “Growing Pains” on YF4J. He didn’t write the song specifically for the mixtape, but once he was told what the mixtape was about he knew his song passed the criteria test.
Anyone who fit the criteria could send in their music to hopefully be selected.
In Detroit, on June 17 at the Allied Media Conference, Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit had the YF4J’s release party. On that day, the mixtape was now available to be downloaded for free. There’s even a domain dedicated to the mixtape, and they plan on having two more release parties—one in Milwaukee and one in Chicago. Milwaukee’s release party will be sometime after True Skool’s block party on July 29. Chicago’s release party will take place sometime in fall.
These three cities plan on creating more mixtapes and getting other regions of the states’ input as well. This is only the beginning of Youth Fighting 4 Justice.