Beats, Rhymes And Justice - Hip Hop On Rikers Island [The Documentary] [World Service]

Episodes

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01Beats, rhymes and justice: Hip Hop on Rikers Island - part one2020022320200227 (WS)
20200226 (WS)

MC and producer Ryan Burvick takes us behind bars on Rikers Island, New York’s largest and troubled jail. He leads a music production programme there called Beats, Rhymes and Justice, which helps inmates write rhymes, make music and imagine their future off the island in a different light.

We hear from three of its students, all aged between 18-21 and awaiting trial. Ayosay has been on Rikers for five months. He is an experienced rapper from New York who dreams of making it in hip hop. Trigger is working on two tracks that express his desire to make a better life for his four-year-old daughter. Suave, a former student from the Beats, Rhymes and Justice programme, has recently been released after spending over two years in jail and is trying to adapt to life at home with his mother in the Bronx. We hear these student making music in Ryan’s portable studio on Rikers.

Rikers Island is located on an island in the East River, between the Bronx and Queens. Around 8,000 people are incarcerated there, across multiple complexes. Rikers has a long history of violence. Last year Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to close the jail, with the council calling it “a stain on our city’s great reputation. ?

The Beats, Rhymes and Justice programme, organised by Columbia University’s Centre for Justice, is one of many attempts to reform the jail. Ryan and the team from Columbia University use hip hop to take the inmates out of their cells and their immediate surroundings, to encourage self-expression and to give them hope.

We find out at the end of the programme what’s happened to the young men whose stories you have heard.

(Photo: L-R, Darnell Hannon, Ryan Burvick and Cameron Rasmussen who lead the Beats, Rhymes and Justice project. Credit: Janer Bigio)

MC and producer Ryan Burvick and the inmates learning to rap in Rikers Island jail

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

01Beats, Rhymes And Justice: Hip Hop On Rikers Island - Part One2020022320200226 (WS)
20200227 (WS)

MC and producer Ryan Burvick takes us behind bars on Rikers Island, New York’s largest and troubled jail. He leads a music production programme there called Beats, Rhymes and Justice, which helps inmates write rhymes, make music and imagine their future off the island in a different light.

We hear from three of its students, all aged between 18-21 and awaiting trial. Ayosay has been on Rikers for five months. He is an experienced rapper from New York who dreams of making it in hip hop. Trigger is working on two tracks that express his desire to make a better life for his four-year-old daughter. Suave, a former student from the Beats, Rhymes and Justice programme, has recently been released after spending over two years in jail and is trying to adapt to life at home with his mother in the Bronx. We hear these student making music in Ryan’s portable studio on Rikers.

Rikers Island is located on an island in the East River, between the Bronx and Queens. Around 8,000 people are incarcerated there, across multiple complexes. Rikers has a long history of violence. Last year Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to close the jail, with the council calling it “a stain on our city’s great reputation.”

The Beats, Rhymes and Justice programme, organised by Columbia University’s Centre for Justice, is one of many attempts to reform the jail. Ryan and the team from Columbia University use hip hop to take the inmates out of their cells and their immediate surroundings, to encourage self-expression and to give them hope.

We find out at the end of the programme what’s happened to the young men whose stories you have heard.

(Photo: L-R, Darnell Hannon, Ryan Burvick and Cameron Rasmussen who lead the Beats, Rhymes and Justice project. Credit: Janer Bigio)

MC and producer Ryan Burvick and the inmates learning to rap in Rikers Island jail

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

MC and producer Ryan Burvick takes us behind bars on Rikers Island, New York’s largest and troubled Jail. He leads a music production programme there called Beats, Rhymes and Justice, which helps inmates write rhymes, make music and imagine their future off the island in a different light.

We hear from three of its students, all aged between 18-21 and awaiting trial. Ayosay has been on Rikers for five months. He’s an experienced rapper from New York who dreams of making it in hip hop. Trigger is working on two tracks that express his desire to make a better life for his four-year-old daughter. Suave, a former student from the Beats, Rhymes and Justice programme, has recently been released after spending over two years in jail and is trying to adapt to life at home with his mother in the Bronx. We hear these student making music in Ryan’s portable studio on Rikers.

MC and producer Ryan Burvick takes us behind bars as inmates learn to rap on Rikers Island, New York's notorious jail.

02Beats, Rhymes And Justice: Hip Hop On Rikers Island - Part Two2020030120200304 (WS)
20200305 (WS)

We are back on Rikers island – New York’s largest and most notorious jail where Ryan Burvik works with inmates on a unique hip hop program. The jail, conscious of criticism about its treatment of young people – most of whom are on remand, unable to make bail – has invested in a new music studio. We hear Ryan working with Mikey MTA and Zig on raps that express their regrets and their ambition for the future.

What is new is the inclusion of women using hip hop as a way of telling their story. We hear from the very talented Remy who used her skill as a performer during her three years in jail to leverage visits from her six year old daughter.

We also follow some of the students once they have been released. Not just Remy but Angel and Trigger and Enterprise Wise are all enrolled on Ryan’s internship at his studio in West Queens. They are taking music seriously – could it be a career? Could they even make it as rappers in their own right?
We meet Shanell Finney who works for Sony Music. Shanell is enthusiastic about the ‘raw, unfiltered’ nature of the music and thinks the Rikers rappers are up to professional standard - a compilation album is planned.

With Ryan we hear some hi energy and accomplished music. We hear his own story too and news of, finally, the closure of Rikers Island.

(Photo: MC and producer Ryan Burvick. Credit: Janer Bigio)

MC and producer Ryan Burvick and the inmates learnin to rap on Rikers Island jail

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

02Beats, rhymes and justice: Hip Hop on Rikers Island - part two2020030120200305 (WS)
20200304 (WS)

We are back on Rikers island – New York’s largest and most notorious jail where Ryan Burvik works with inmates on a unique hip hop program. The jail, conscious of criticism about its treatment of young people – most of whom are on remand, unable to make bail – has invested in a new music studio. We hear Ryan working with Mikey MTA and Zig on raps that express their regrets and their ambition for the future.

What is new is the inclusion of women using hip hop as a way of telling their story. We hear from the very talented Remy who used her skill as a performer during her three years in jail to leverage visits from her six year old daughter.

We also follow some of the students once they have been released. Not just Remy but Angel and Trigger and Enterprise Wise are all enrolled on Ryan’s internship at his studio in West Queens. They are taking music seriously – could it be a career? Could they even make it as rappers in their own right?
We meet Shanell Finney who works for Sony Music. Shanell is enthusiastic about the ‘raw, unfiltered’ nature of the music and thinks the Rikers rappers are up to professional standard - a compilation album is planned.

With Ryan we hear some hi energy and accomplished music. We hear his own story too and news of, finally, the closure of Rikers Island.

(Photo: MC and producer Ryan Burvick. Credit: Janer Bigio)

MC and producer Ryan Burvick and the inmates learnin to rap on Rikers Island jail

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.