Youngsters aim to stop crime with music
Amid the gang violence now plaguing Fletcher's Land and other communities in west Kingston, a group of youngsters are aiming to restore peace and hope by providing underprivileged youth with an opportunity.
Kimani Martin, a 22-year-old Fletcher's Land resident, and two others, Vivian Adair and Noel Peart Jr, have partnered to create the Fletcher's Land Police Youth Club Entertainment Records, a record label for inner-city youth, hoping to build a career through positive music.
"In recent times, we have been having violence and turf war in the community. You have lane a war with lane. People lose their mother, sister, father, so we want to use this to kick out crime and to kick out violence," Martin told THE STAR.
"I came up with the idea of the label because I realised there are other persons in the community that have talent, but there is nothing to push them, so you find that some of them will get involved in wrongdoing because they're saying there's no opportunity for them to pursue this career," Martin said.
Head of the Kingston Central police Superintendent Wilfred Campbell said he welcomes the initiative and would support the youngsters as best as possible, but he noted that more needs to be done to end violence in the area.
"There is a gang feud in the area between Fletcher's Land and King Street gang, and not only that. There is infighting in Fletcher's Land as to who should be the leader, so it cannot be solely about producing music," Campbell said.
He added, "There has to be some collaboration between the gangs that are warring up there because I have seen where they have functions in the community and the other side just shoot it up".
The record label is just over a year old and currently has two artistes signed, Alyssa G, a 17-year old sixth-former at JosÈ Marti; and Kradiant, a 16-year-old student at Ardenne High. The label is set to release its first project, a single by Kradiant called Let's Go, soon.
"It's a reggae song. It speaks to youths to uplift themselves. It tells you to always be on the go, and don't let anyone deprive you, and just believe in yourself and aim for what you want. Get up and go get it," Martin said.
So far, Martin said, numerous youth from inner-city communities have been expressing interest in the label, but they are unable to sign them because of limited resources. Nonetheless, the youngsters are pushing on to accomplish their dream of producing world-class artistes.
"We host stage shows to get funding, but we still need a lot of resources. We need a computer, a microphone, and a public announcement system; drums sets, guitar, piano, and other instruments so we can make rhythms for our artistes instead of paying others to do it," Martin said.
Despite the industry being saturated with record labels, Martin believes there is a space for his label.
"We bring something different to the music industry. We focus on the inner-city youths. We use our music to speak to them specifically, to help them to believe in themselves and empower themselves in these times."