How One Music Producer Turned an 11-Year Prison Sentence Into a Mixtape to Help Inmates

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He went to prison for 11 years before being released in March. Now one producer is hoping a new mixtape featuring inmates rapping highlights their experiences

Jassy spent years in a rap duo, the Navigators, in his native Sweden before transitioning to a role as a writer and producer. In 2008, he was in Los Angeles to work with Bloodshy and Avant, fellow Swedes best known for co-producing Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” and Ashley Tisdale, the actress who transitioned from“I was going around and collaborating with different producers,” Jassy recalls. “One night when I left the club, I got into an altercation with another man,” 55-year-old John Osnes.

Jassy set some simple ground rules — no swearing, and no “glorifying the criminal lifestyle” — and a simple goal: To make music that would end up being played on the institutional radio channel. When writing “Break the Mold,” Abercrombie drew on an experience from a previous prison — an incident that almost led to a race riot. “I was thinking we put all this energy coming together for some negative shit,” he says. “Imagine what we’d do if we put that energy into something progressive and constructive.” The resulting track is an earnest, speedily-rapped plea for unity over a keening, chattering Jassy beat.

 

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