Mixing rap music, with its reputation for glorifying drugs and violence, with incarcerated juvenile delinquents might not sound like a good idea.
A hip-hop concert Monday at the Augusta Youth Development Campus, though, was a way of teaching teen offenders about hard work and the realities of the entertainment business.
A lot of the boys locked up at the south Augusta youth prison dream of becoming professional rappers, Juvenile Correctional Counselor Keith Antoine said, so the counselor, who spent 13 years working at a Columbus, Ga., radio station in the 1980s and 1990s, used his connections in the industry to bring in five acts from two record labels for a seminar and a one-hour show.
Before an afternoon performance in the campus auditorium, about 25 of the YDC's 100 residents attended a class on how to get a record deal, taught by Marcus Mack, the manager for Maceo, of Atlanta-based Quick Flip Records.
"All they know is the fantasy," Mr. Antoine said. "They see television. They see women. They see cars. They see money. But they don't know the reality. It's a lot of work, and you have to be educated."
Along with Maceo, North Carolina-based Dirty East Entertainment's Sparky D, Crucial, 285 and Big Delph performed, all free of charge.
The YDC, off Mike Padgett Highway south of Bobby Jones Expressway, specializes in treating mentally ill and mentally troubled juvenile offenders from across Georgia. Director John Brady said he agreed to hold the program, called the Youth & Music Industry Seminar, because he wants the youths there to get more than just a traditional education.
Those who have earned privileges listen to rap music in their dorms, Mr. Brady said, but they might not understand that being a professional musician entails years of dedication and business savvy.
The 50 or so boys who attended the show - dressed in khaki, brown and denim jail duds - sat still in their metal chairs during the first half, most notably during a motivational rant by Sparky D, whose real name is Doreen Broadnax.
One of rap's pioneers from the 1980s, Sparky D admonished them not to wear their pants below their waist and said hip-hop is supposed to be about self-expression, not guns, "hos" and cocaine.
"Hip-hop is not about what 50 Cent is talking about," she said between two gospel-rap numbers.
Midway through, though, the boys were out of their chairs, swaying to the beats, bobbing their heads and waving their arms.
An 18-year-old from Adel, Ga., serving two years for burglary and criminal trespassing, said that even though he's not interested in working in the music business, he still learned something from Monday's class.
"Anything I want to be, I can put my mind to it," he said. "You know what I'm saying?"
Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A pullout quote in an article Tuesday about a hip-hop show and seminar at the Augusta Youth Development Campus was attributed to the wrong person. Keith Antoine, a juvenile correctional counselor at the facility, said: "They see television. They see women. They see cars. They see money. But they don't know the reality. It's a lot of work, and you have to be educated."
The Augusta Chronicle regrets the error.