Todd “Speech” Thomas is a two-time Grammy-award winning rapper and founder of Arrested Development, a conscious hip-hop group from the ’90s. Not too long ago, he released an album, entitled, “16 Bars: Original Documentary Soundtrack”, featuring various artists from a Virginia jail.
16 Bars – “Inspire” – Original Documentary Soundtrack
’16 Bars: Original Documentary Soundtrack Album’ offers a rare glimpse at the human stories and songs locked away in our nation’s jails and prisons.
The documentary follows a unique rehabilitation effort in a Virginia jail that encourages inmates to write and record original music.
Also, in the jail’s makeshift recording studio, four men collaborated to produce an album with Speech.
As the creative process unfolds, these incarcerated artists must confront the traumas of their past. Also, their music must become the key to unlocking a new chapter in their lives.
Music magic happened in that jail, and this is that Album
“These men are behind bars…but their voices have to be heard.” – Speech
All the basic tracks, rapping, and singing was recorded in the Richmond City Jail.
The album is somewhat eclectic. Also, there’s music here that will appeal to Non-Commercial/NPR, Americana, College, Urban, and Urban AC.
16 Bars – Trailer from Lightyear Entertainment via Vimeo
The rap music here is personal and conscious, in the vein of stars such as Kendrick Lamar and Tupac.
Garland Carr, on the other hand, may remind you of a young Johnny Cash.
‘Inspire’ was sweetened by a children’s choir (who Speech recorded in his home studio, at the artist’s request).
Also, “Lay My Burden Down” features a gospel choir comprised of fellow inmates, and was recorded in the facility’s cafeteria.
The four featured artists
Speech is widely considered one of the godfathers of conscious hip-hop.