This episode is coming out with five days left of the Die Jim Crow kickstarter deadline and they have hit their goal at the time of posting - yes!!! Please give if you feel moved to do so. This project is only getting started...
Doc Israel, one of the supportive forces behind Die Jim Crow, took a moment out of a busy Saturday to sit down with me to talk about the project and some of the raw issues behind the creation of this album. No matter how you feel about the racism of our prison system, this conversation is one to listen to with an open mind and open heart.
To quote the Die Jim Crow website,
Die Jim Crow is a concept album which is currently in production.
The album is written and performed by formerly and currently incarcerated black songwriters and singers from across the country.
The album title is inspired by Michelle Alexander's book "The New Jim Crow", which equates the U$ prison system to a modern day racial caste system similar to the old form of Jim Crow segregation in America.
The U$ has the largest prison and criminal justice system in the world, which targets black communities nationwide. After leaving prison, the "felon" label leaves folks stripped of basic rights such as housing, employment, voting, and education.
This Jim Crow-like system was accelerated by the war on drugs and the mass incarceration boom which began in the 1980s and continues to this day. In that time span, the U$ prison and jail population saw an unprecedented increase of over 400%, with black Americans being the most disproportionately affected.
The album addresses this human rights crisis through song.
Inspired by Pink Floyd's 1979 concept album "The Wall", Die Jim Crow explores the journey of the contributing artists through intimate first-person narrative, overarching political themes, and haunting musical through-lines. Fusing several genres of traditionally African American music, the album features rock n roll, jazz, blues, r&b, hip hop, and more.
EP release 5/1/16.
LP release 2018.