Beats behind bars
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Ghetto Youths project rehabs Latin American inmates through hip-hop
Frankie Nino is a busy man.
He was in Las Vegas this week to plan for a merchandise display at the Las Vegas MAGIC Fashion and Trade Show Convention coming up in August.
But no need to worry about him, he doesn’t mind traveling all over the world promoting the Ghetto Youths project. The message of the project is more than enough motivation.
“If you’re doing something to help yourself, it’s good, but if you’re doing something to help others, it’s just something else,” said Nino aka Genocide.
It’s ironic that such a successful venture would grow out of the scummiest place a person could ever end up — jail.
The Ghetto Youths Project began in 2004 after Genocide’s partner “Anonymo” was put in a Panamanian jail called El Renacer.
Genocide saw the conditions in El Renacer when he visited his friend and he quickly realized the jail did not offer any type of rehabilitation or therapy program.
“The way the penitentiary system works over there, you’re somehow guilty before you’re proven innocent…before you even get a trial, it may take five years. And him living in the horrible conditions, I knew he needed some peace of mind,” Genocide said.
Anonymo and Genocide had always been in to hip-hop and reggaeton music.
They had recorded music for fun before and Genocide just knew that recording in jail would be therapeutic.
“Music does that to you, it helps you deal with things and I wanted to remind him that he could get back on his feet once he got out,” Genocide said.
It started with just a laptop and a simple microphone, but eventually other inmates got involved.
Although it did take awhile to get the respect of both authorities and the inmates, he said.
One thing led to another and after the Ghetto Youths organization built the first library in the jail, it built a recording studio.
This brought much attention from the Latin American media and it became a growing endeavor.
Nino and everyone involved with the Ghetto Youths project are putting together a real movement based on positivity, self-improvement and aspiration.
The project has garnered well deserved buzz with music mixtapes and Internet leaks online.
Ghetto Youths is pitching several major companies for a feature-length documentary and television show.
One will be narrated by underground hip-hop artist, Immortal Technique.
“Technique is already down 100 percent, and it’s a huge thing for us,” Genocide said.
Another major name involved with the project is well-known Los Angeles photographer and director Estevan Oriol.
Genocide reached out to him to direct the documentary because Oriol would be the best suited to direct something so raw.
“It’s a different concept and it’s hard to grasp because it comes from a negative setting,” Genocide said.
“But we’d like to spread the message that music can always offer hope.”
ON THE WEB:
Ghetto Youths online: ghettoyouths.tv
Ghetto Youths on MySpace: myspace.com/norecords