Late last year, a group of people came together to promote locally produced politically progressive hip-hop by means of a contest. We would give cash prizes to the best hip-hop and spoken word artist that deals with the school to prison pipeline, an issue that's become increasingly important in explaining the rise of the prison industrial complex on one hand and the failure of the public school system on the other.

We called it The Baltimore Mixtape Project. And we were able to raise approximately $4000 through Kickstarter. The money would go to cash prizes for the finalists, and also to the production of a CD that we would distribute. 

We've finally found our finalists. They will compete for cash prizes this Friday, June 1, at 2640 at 7:30pm. 

We're also sponsoring an online competition. The tracks are available for a listen…the artist that gets the most online votes will win a cash prize in addition to the cash he/she received for being a finalist. Please vote!

I have to say that I had no idea whether this would work. We thought the idea was novel, and every time we talked it up, folks got excited. But all of us (Chris Baron, Deverick Murray, Zeke Cohen, Jared Ball, Darius Wilmore, and myself) have real jobs and responsibilities. And only a couple of us are really hip-hop. Finally, we had never worked together. 

Even though we were able to successfully raise the money through Kickstarter, the odds were against us. 

But it looks like we pulled it off. The final tracks are good, and I think we've got something that we can build on. Where we go from here? I'm not quite sure. I expect to have an announcement about that here. Soon.