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Die Jim Crow is a concept album addressing what author Michelle Alexander calls the "New Jim Crow": the modern day racial caste system which is the mass incarceration of African Americans. The songs are written and performed by formerly and currently incarcerated black men and women from across the country, who will express through song their perspective and experience with the "New Jim Crow".
The United States has the largest prison and criminal justice system in the world, which targets and damages black communities nationwide. Black people are adversely affected by this system at all stages: arrest, conviction, and sentencing. One in three African American males born in the U.S. today can expect to spend time in prison.
This modern day racial caste system was accelerated enormously 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.S. prison and jail population has increased over 400%. Die Jim Crow addresses the racism of the American criminal justice system, as well as the history behind the war on drugs and the prison boom, through personal lyrics (penned by those who have lived it), a dramatic narrative structure, and archive audio samples (media clips, presidential speeches, history readings). Fusing several genres of traditionally African American music, the album features spirituals, rock n roll, blues, r&b, & hip hop.
The stories and themes on Die Jim Crow are universal and speak to the human condition in ways that transcend race and history. That said, as an activist tool, the project foremost serves to lift up the voices of those most affected by mass incarceration and to provide a powerful educational tool in young black communities.