“The beauty of Die Jim Crow is that people behind bars are making music to educate and liberate. I’m thrilled that my work
has helped to inspire this effort.”
– Michelle Alexander, “The New Jim Crow”
Die Jim Crow is a multimedia concept album about the black American experience in the era of mass incarceration.
The full length Die Jim Crow LP will be released in 2020 with an accompanying film series and LP Book. The LP features 20+ original tracks written and performed by currently and formerly incarcerated musicians from across the country. All of the lyricists and vocalists on the Die Jim Crow LP are self-identifying as black, as well as the majority of the musicians. However, non-black current and former prisoners will also contribute instrumentation and background vocals.
The contributors to Die Jim Crow are lifers, wrongfully convicted, guilty, innocent, southerners, northerners, old timers, youngsters. They are in for a variety of charges and are not judged by their charges, but by their characters. The binding line is that they have all served time in prison.
The project’s title was inspired by Michelle Alexander’s landmark book “The New Jim Crow” (2010), which equates the U.S. prison system to a modern day racial caste system similar to the old form of Jim Crow segregation in America.
The United States has the largest prison and criminal justice system in the world, of which black communities nationwide are most disproportionately affected. 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. Over the past 40 years, the U.S. prison and jail population has increased over 500 percent, with blacks Americans facing the highest rates of incarceration. For black men born in 2001, 1 in 3 face a likelihood of spending time behind bars (The Sentencing Project).
Die Jim Crow 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.
Die Jim Crow began in 2013 as a passion project by musician/artist Fury Young. Fury, a born and raised Lower East Side New Yorker, had close personal experiences with formerly incarcerated individuals which, combined with his passions as an activist, led him to pursue the project. Though the idea began as a short term project of majority hip hop tracks, Die Jim Crow has grown into a multi-genre, multimedia art project with over two dozen formerly and currently incarcerated artists across the country.
In 2016, the Die Jim Crow EP and Die Jim Crow EP Book were released as the first sample of DJC’s multimedia output. The six-track EP was recorded at Warren Correctional Institution (Lebanon, OH) with incarcerated musicians, and with formerly incarcerated musicians in Brooklyn NY and Philadelphia PA. The Die Jim Crow EP Book, edited by Fury Young and illustrated by Mark B. Springer and other incarcerated artists, is a graphic novel-like companion piece to the EP, and tells the story behind each song on the album.
Stay up to date on Die Jim Crow through our in-depth Blog posts, as many developments will be going down prior to the 2020 Die Jim Crow LP release.