Youth Music Workshops

At Youth Emergency Services, Freedom Theatre, Achieving Independence Center, and Red Shield, teaching artist Michael O’Bryan partnered with Junior Music Executives and other media organizations to run trauma-informed music workshops and discussions, with the goal of expanding the platform for youth voices in the issue. Participants learned music creation and production, then wrote and recorded original songs inspired by Dr. Cannuscio’s interviews with youths affected by housing insecurity. The workshops reached over 50 youths and their music is featured in Jon Kaufman’s documentary.

Lyrics below. Full album is as follows:

Warzone*
Harmony Savage@ (Instrumental)
Racing The Devil#
Random Yes@ (Instrumental)
Dreams**
Heavy Drums@ (Instrumental)
Never Hopeless^ featuring Rich Quick
Sky High@ (Instrumental)

*Produced by Student Participants, Harry Wilson, and Anwar Marshall
#Produced by Derel “Sir Clef” Haynes, Harry Wilson and Anwar Marshall
**Produced by Student Participants, Jim Wells, Harry Wilson and Anwar Marshall
@Produced by Student Participants and Jim Wells
^Produced by Harry Wilson

All Songs written by Student Participants, Jim Wells, Harry Wilson and Mike O’Bryan

Production Student Participants: Deonte Burney, Tyheim Fields, Deante Jainlett, Steven Smith, Raekwon Fisher, Jahi Scott, Azim Vanleer, Marc Downing, Tashira Robinson, Rodney Burney, Taz McPherson, Tiney Pugh, Raymond Anderson

Songwriting Student Participants: Zhane McPhil, Rodney Burney, Naiiym Reaves, Taz McPherson, Raekwon Fisher, Zymir Brunson, Khy’Ianna McCrea Taylor McDaniels, Tiyanna Cole, Te’a Bellamy, Hosea Moore, Racquel Mollineau, Tashira Robinson

Performers: Zhane McPhil, Naiiym Reaves, Rodney Burney, Taz McPherson, Ayanna Reid, Rich Quick of Exponent Entertainment

Poem Writing: Inspiration for Racing the Devil: Monologue by Katarina Backo, Inspiration for Dreams: Pursuit of Happiness by Markeith Spencer

Musicians: Harry Wilson, Anwar Marshall, Scott Ziegler, and Micah Forsyth

Vocal Arrangements: Elle Morris

Engineered and Recorded by Micah Forsyth

Teaching Artist: Jim Wells, Harry Wilson, Aisha Winfield, David Curbie, and Mike O’Bryan

All Songs Copyright The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

LYRICS:

WarZone

Chorus

Running for my mind, trying to find my life
In this war-zone, to get out this war-zone

A path of land-mines, I risk dying every time
In this war-zone, I’ma get out this war-zone

Verse One

What you know about the struggle?
At the age of 13 I was in and out of trouble
Smart mouth so I always had to rumble
Until I seen a youngin my age laid out in a puddle of his own blood
His momma did them hard drugs, so when her son died she took it for what it was
Ain’t love there, spending all her money on a high
In her mind she’s just thinking like I can’t afford to care,
So I shed a few tears for the youngin,
Instead of dealing I’ma turn this rapping into something
I ain’t lying, tell the world man I really come from nothing
No heat, foul house, every night an empty stomach
Yeah, real ish

Daydreams of gold watches all on my wrist,
Nightmares of someone hating and emptying the clip
Man, I gotta get rich cuz my homie’s on the block like they gotta hit a lick
I ain’t tryna see them in a cell,
Cuz the money that I make ain’t gonna never be enough to pay their high bails
But the least I can do is send a little mail
Check up on your moms everyday till you touchdown
Yeah, just stay alive until I get the crown
And when I do ya’ll ain’t gotta never touch another pound
No bullets flying, ya’ll ain’t ever gotta hit the ground
We’re gonna make it out this warzone that we call our town

Chorus

Running for my mind, trying to find my life
In this war-zone, to get out this war-zone

A path of land-mines, I risk dying every time
In this war-zone, I’ma get out this war-zone

V2

Dammit ya’ll for a blameless cause
You don’t need a call if you’re a man of God
Cuz i stand for mine like all the time
Warzone I don’t need this crime
Cuz it’s never silent, all you hear is sirens
everybody dying, baby momma’s crying
And I’m trying and trying
Not a star of violence, murder-free I’m on a strict diet
Warzone , it’s a war zone
It’s a trap house, It’s no more home
Cuz it’s murder she wrote as I murder these notes
I don’t need a coach nor a whistle to blow
I’m kissing this flow like i’m in Mistletoe
Stripclub of my life, as I’m tipping my hope
When I spit then you know
The way the streets is you just get it and go
Rahdee said it first,
A home is a curse, now home is the worst,
So everybody listen as I tell my story
We ain’t got food and our school teaches poorly..
So many deadbeats, we’re the co-host of maury
I try to call for help but everybody just ignore me,
Why’s everyday feel like every scene in “Glory,
I try to call for help but everybody just ignore me,
Why’s everyday feel like every scene in “Glory,….

Racing The Devil

V1

200 miles on this life track I need to slow down
When I was in the streets eating out the trash nobody came around
They hated and labeled me as a clown,
Mom turned the house into a crack lounge
On the 1st, man they all running in trying to get a quick fix
Poison all in their veins, needles littering the ground
I’m just living every day like it’s my last
Before I pass man I hope I make a little cash
Give my dad all the money that he never had
Put him in a jag, new clothes and I hope he brags
Cuz he living down south in the trap house
Got the drug dealers trippin on him tryna kick him out
It ain’t about the money with him I’m around him for the lessons
I was told wise words can turn out to be a blessing
So I’m looking for the knowledge,
A lot of people told me I wouldn’t graduate or go to college
(I did it though)
Or ever live to be the greatest,
Do you know how long it took me to develop some patience
Now I get it on my own and I’m like eff waiting,
Either let me in the game or watch a hot youngin take it

Chorus

I can’t get off of this road,
Got my foot on the pedal, I’m trying to be settled
I’m speeding before my life pass me by,
Nobody can help me, I’m racing the devil
I’m racing the devil
Where do I fit in this world,
I’m racing the devil
Where do I fit in this world
I’m racing the devil

V2

I got my foot on the pedal,
Moving every year but my fam ain’t settled
Ever had a best friend shot, man I got several
I been low for so long you would think I was the devil
I don’t see why people hate on me, I ain’t got nothing for you to take from me
I fantasize a good life but it’s make believe
Sunk in a nightmare, somebody wake up me
I can’t eat, I can’t breathe no more
But this is my life so I’m control
And I don’t like nobody so leave me alone
And I’m tired of my home being a damn warzone
And it’s good cuz I don’t need no help,
I can do it on my own cuz I love myself
But I’m warm even though the world cold as ice
I got the power in my hands, never rolling the dice
And ya’ll don’t gotta dig me cuz I ain’t no shovel
So why take my foot off the pedal?

Poem: Monologue by Katarina Backo

Home. Home is whatever you make it.
It is yours.
Your space, your property.
It can be a separation from the world.
Wherever it is. In Philadelphia or somewhere on the other side of the world. It is where you live. It is where your family lives. It can be multiple places.
Homes are places you go a lot, know and can find.
Home is a free prison. You are arrested and free at your own home.
The bars are your responsibilities and the key to open them is your free will and wishes to live.
You are the host and the guest.
Walking in and feeling new and familiar.
Hosting yourself.
You are the seller and the buyer.
Arranging the new and getting rid of the old.
I am torn between two worlds:
Holding onto my past and finding my future.

Dreams

V1

Life is getting harder, it’s getting even harder
Sleeping on the park bench never being bothered
Bar’s getting slaughtered, always getting caught up
When I grow up I promise I’ma be a scholar
The devil got a hold of me down on my knees with my jesus piece
Daddy tell me look above the seas
Can’t you see this is my downfall,
Who can I call nobody,
Who really care about me, nobody
Cuz I been on my own for so long, you’d think that my home and cell phone forgot me
I catch hell in my footsteps
But jesus got my back
Damn never thought about it like that
Had a dream about being philly’s next best rapper
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, turn to chapter
Don’t understand who rappers love more than their fans
I’m a female, always had to play the man
This war is ridiculous I had to take a stand
And after that I took my bible started praying,
If this is america then I don’t want uncle sam,
If this is america then I don’t want uncle sam,
Damn
I don’t want uncle sam

Chorus

Where do dreams go when they die?
Do they disappear or float right up to the sky?
Don’t give a damn about who, what, where or why,
Just wanna hold my dreams for one last time

V2

Life ain’t ish if you ain’t got nothing to live for
Or somebody killing your friends you swore that you would kill for
Both your homies rap so when they die who do I feel for,
Working with that perfect person who’s worth getting a deal for,
Gotta switch the flow up, Flowers told me to grow up
Momma said to use your head and one day I’ma blow up
My cousin was buzzing before her boyfriend got her coked up
And now my cuz don’t show up, when I see her I wanna throw up
Thought about selling drugs for a lil while,
I was tryna make a buck and it sucks for a little child
Dad was on the run everyday of the month
In the middle of the night he dropped us off to my aunt
I asked my dad “what’s wrong?” , he said “don’t you worry son”
He walked out the door crying, first time that I seen a gun
Until I was 11 never really heard of fun…a yo I’m done

Chorus

Where do dreams go when they die?
Do they disappear or float right up to the sky?
Don’t give a damn about who, what, where or why,
Just wanna hold my dreams for one last time

Poem: Pursuit of Happiness by Markeith Spencer

Home is like living inside a coffin without the bones!
Don’t tell me something I already know, this world… my home..man..
Isn’t it enough that I take steps outside my door and hear guns clapping into the air like standing ovations…
I’m hearing voices… maybe dead people …..
Conflicting moans of sorrows, they’re grasping for the flesh I have….
They desire to feel pain again as if they never left their bodies to rot 6 feet below…
Isn’t it enough to be the failure that wreaks the halls, who suffers slowly in deep depression only seeing the devils minions that surround him.
I feel… sweaty ….I’m nervous to come outside my own doorstep to walk the barriers of hell that melt my intestines…. that makes me sick to my stomach. I hear yelling… with Jesus walks playing on stereos that blast the sins out of it, that blast inflicted sorrows…. and only Jesus could crawl to help us but he cannot reach his children now, we are stuck ,we are alone, we are… in hell.
So, I feel pain and I cannot shake the feeling that is only gonna get worse…. until the sun rises again, I’ll smell, hear, touch, taste, and see the same damn things.

Chorus

Where do dreams go when they die?
Do they disappear or float right up to the sky?
Don’t give a damn about who, what, where or why,
Just wanna hold my dreams for one last time

Never Hopeless

V1

It started with Wu-tang and ended with two chains
this how we do things
and I’m too plain to the pain that i felt when I was losing
Embarrassed with the homelessness, a bonus to my opponents
I’m up late night like jimmy fallon and conan
I’m combing, I mean I’m coming, I’m running, dumping, and jumping rope
I mean I’m jumping hope
I’m baaad, like I’m bumping goats
Tryna find somewhere to stay but at that day it didn’t work
My brother birthday had to celebrate it up in a church
people wonder why i’m happy bout that
well my man, that’s the past and the past is just the past
Now don’t ask about my dad cuz that’s just gonna make me sad.
Tryna get rich like Rich Kid, but a quick way to get rich is to spit this
or get a quick pick of this sentence now listen I’m pissing intense rappers off with this sentence
so when you smell my ish, when I get rich aka, Mind your business

V2

A yo think they understand me, they can’t be
Leave me a van so I can relocate me and my family
I have some dreams who I can be but can’t sleep
And every time I wanna ask someone for help I can’t speak
I need money, it’s funny..
How can we believe we need that pair of sneaks when others of us can’t eat
It make me feel like a dumby and still bummy,
And that rumble in my tummy sounding something like a stampede
Please, please father grant me the plan needed to leave this here God forsaken backstreets
I need a home, a real home,
A patio to have a grill on and be with my brothers and get our chill on,
Ain’t that what this country’s built on, I just wanna settle
And experience this life on a high level
And happiness is just that homeboy,
Cuz homeless is never hopeless don’t forget that.

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