Rapper Common has tapped into the power of music to capture his perspectives on life, and now he’s empowering those who are incarcerated to do the same. According to CBS Chicago, the music artist—whose real name is Lonnie Rashid Lynn—helped create a recording studio for inmates at Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois.
The studio is part of a new program launched at the correctional facility to inspire those behind bars to use music as a creative outlet. The project was derived from attorney Ari Williams’ vision to cultivate a music-centered artistic space within the prison. Through the program—which is being led by Lynn’s nonprofit organization Imagine Justice—inmates will have the opportunity to explore the different facets of music as part of a 12-week course inside of a studio that includes instruments, mixing boards and other equipment.
“I know music brings us all together. I want them to be OK. I want them to do something they love to do,” Williams said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “And I know many of them are rappers. They love to rap, and they love to sing.” Lynn added those who are incarcerated are underserved and “deserve access to better things.” Programs like the one created by Williams and Lynn are needed. The Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council reported 43 percent of people released from prisons within the state would most likely recidivate within three years.
This isn’t the only impactful project that Lynn has been at the forefront of. Last year, he launched a video series that was centered on the importance of wellness. The project, dubbed Com&Well, was created to empower people within Black and Brown communities to focus on self-care practices during unprecedented times. “I believe deeply that the more at peace you are with yourself, the more love and compassion you are able to put out into the world,” he said.