My Rap Production Corrupted Juveniles at a Residential Program

Kevin Anglade
6 min readAug 4, 2021

They often say music is a reflection of the soul. The core of its fabric is a vibration of who we are as people. Music can be used to share our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, political views, etc. Nonetheless, many of us use it whether consciously or not as the soundtrack to our lives or as a source of pleasurable fantasy. The reason why I say all this is because I, personally, have been feeling a type of way for a while. For those who have been following my journey on social media, know that I took up a position as a Rehabilitation Therapist at a non-profit residential program in Connecticut back in January of 2020. When the facility officially opened up back in June of last year, I was tasked with loading up mp3’s for incoming clients that would be living within the program. I remember getting extremely excited at the time due to the fact that I knew the kids were from violent inner-cities/impoverished communities so naturally they would gravitate to hip-hop music as the culture has been representative of the community since its inception in the early 70’s.

Therefore, I proceeded to download all the artists I loved that I thought the kids would appreciate. From Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, ScHoolBoy Q, Logic and Vince Staples to recent newcomers on the scene such as Sylvan LaCue, YBN Cordae and JID, I grew excited at the opportunity in exposing my clients to artists that they probably hadn’t encountered prior. However, it didn’t take long to learn that the music my clients listened to religiously were from artists that reflected the rugged nature of the neighborhoods they came from. I remember one of my clients telling me that Youngboy NeverBrokeAgain (known to most as NBA Youngboy in rap circles) was his favorite artist. He then asked me to load his four albums worth of his music onto the mp3 that I had given him. After watching one of his music videos for the very first time I remember being startled by the showcasing of weapons that were being toted by Youngboy and his friends. From assault rifles to glock nines, .30’s, .45’s, silencers, AK-47’s and many more. The kids would watch the videos on YouTube in our residential’s living room and would lose their minds as they rapped every single word.

This act often persisted as the kids would then request similar music from artists such as Lil’ Durk, G-Herbo, FBG Duck, King Von, Quando Rondo, Pop Smoke, Fivio Foreign, Lil’ TJay, Kodak Black, Chief Keef, Lil’ Baby, Polo G, Rod Wave, Pooh Sheisty, Sheff G and Sleepy Hollow just to name a few. The more I downloaded such music I became desensitized to the graphic content and its violence. I slowly came to understand that the music was a reflection of my clients circumstances and where they came from. But from time to time, I would think to myself: “Am I propogating the aftermath/consequences of the lyrics rapped within these songs?” “Am I the one to blame for this?” “Should I take ownership for the violence perpetuated in the inner cities within the state of Connecticut?” Now part of my thinking may lead many of you to say that “You are indeed exaggerating, Kevin.” However, I am someone that is not exempt and is open for critique as well as assessment. My reason for saying this is because I have produced tracks as well as albums for these juveniles that have spent the last few months of their sentences within the confines of the residential facility I worked at in Hartford. At this current point in time, only three youths have discharged successfully and have not gotten into any additional trouble upon release. However, five youths that have completed music projects alongside of me either discharged from the program before being sent to detention again or have committed other crimes and added felonies to their rap sheet.

The reason why I bring up all of this is because it forces me to think about how Hip-Hop culture as well as rap music has changed so much. In the 1990’s, artists such as Jay-Z, Nas, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, Dr. Dre, UGK and even members of The Wu-Tang Clan all talked about street life and how they maneuvered throughout their neighborhood as hustlers, pimps and gangsters. However, it always seemed as if these artists were just shedding light on their experiences and sharing authentic stories if not of themselves then of the people they grew up with or around. Even in the 2000’s this trend continued to a certain degree with artists such as 50 Cent, The Game, The Clipse, Fat Joe, Dipset, The Lox, DMX, Cassidy and many more of that time period. Fast forward to the present in 2021 and it seems as if Hip-Hop culture has become synonymous with street culture. There almost has been no way to rightfully distinguish the two as many of the modern day artists mentioned earlier in this essay have been picked up, pushed, promoted and marketed by major record labels.

What that means is many children from the suburbs or children of color that may grow up in two parent households are also consuming this new wave of Hip-Hop known as “drill music”. It almost seems like today’s artists are celebrated and viewed as movie characters that the youth idolize and wait anxiously to see the pending fate of what these young men (who lack direction and guidance) will become. Somehow, in this current generation, there has been a desensitization of some sort that has taken place as the murders and retaliations from rival sets and music crews play huge roles in the puzzle of what seems like Greek tragedies taking place in these haphazard environments. This leads me to ask: Are we leading our current group of youngsters into a pit of abyss? For music consumers within the African-American/Latino communities, are we to blame for the commodification and exploitation of our art form that is Hip-Hop? Can this dilemma be traced back to the violence saturated within the music from the moment rap lost its purity? It is well known that the music industry took hold of rap and turned it into a viable form of music for commercial appeal and mass consumption. Therefore, one has to wonder if those very same execs take the work they advocate for home with them to their families in such places like the Hamptons, Long Island, Greenwich, Connecticut or the outskirts of Los Angeles such as Beverly Hills, Malibu or Calabasas?

I do not have an answer for those kind of questions, but what I do know is that I in no way am exempt from this type of assessment or questioning having served as their Rehabilitation Therapist. Especially with a foray into music as a producer and full fledged artist myself. But please ask me if I take time to repeatedly listen to the type of music I have produced for my clients once album production is complete and presented to fellow staff within the residential program. You’ll be waiting a long time for my response, I promise you. For one, I know my nature, I know my heart and I know what I would and would not do as a person. Now some of you may say that I am judging the youth or I am saying that I am better than them and if that’s what you are thinking I want you to know that that is absolutely not the case. What I do know is that in some cases a disconnect has formed in certain aspects between this generation and the one that I came from which is interesting as I am only thirty-years-old. At this point, I don’t know what to do anymore or have any ideas on how I can go about helping us as a community to address this problem. But maybe it isn’t a problem. As mentioned prior, every generation has its own form of representation and communication via music. Therefore, maybe this current era is just fine. However, I want everyone to think about their grandkids and the generation to come after that. Where will music, especially rap take them? How will it reflect them as people the older they get? What will be the life expectancy of these artists and the many young men and women of color that consume their music within less fortunate and dangerous communities? I guess only time will truly tell.

Kevin Anglade is a writer, poet, scholar, and educator from Queens, New York. He currently attends Temple University as a PhD student within their Africology & African-American Studies doctoral program. As an educator, Anglade taught English Language Arts in Hartford Public Schools and as an English professor in the General Ed Studies Department at Goodwin University. He also served as a Rehabilitation Therapist with at-risk boys for the judicial branch within the state of Connecticut and is the host and producer of The Wise Guys podcast. He enjoys reading, making music, jogging and is the author/artist of the poetry collection, A Flower That Rose & forthcoming studio album, “Cries Of A Rose”: The Hood’s Tragedy.

Follow him online: @kevinanglade11



Kevin Anglade

writer, musician, poet, scholar, and educator from Queens, NY. socials: @kevinanglade11