SET Journal, 07/19

This week has seen several misfortunes for the SET team (can you say three mash-up vehicles?), but today’s visit to Tower St. has almost single-handed made it better.

With Antenna Alliance in tow, we headed over to Tower St. (in a taxi) to do some major technical work. We arrived at about 11:45 and split up into two groups. Oliver, Christopher, and Kevin headed outside to see what they could do about bringing internet to the radio station, while Dan, Larisa, and I held down the fort at SET FM to see what we could do about the funky radio signal.

Dan quickly discovered that not all was right in the land of cables, and quickly fixed our in-house recording system and the signal being output to the antenna. This means, respectively, that we’ll be able to provide you with clips from the inmates’ talk shows soon and that the radio broadcast will now have less distortion. Meanwhile, the internet team found that wireless wasn’t a good option and had started exploring new options when it started to pour outside for the first time this month! They quickly came back to SET FM HQ, slightly drenched, and continued discussing other options.

As all this was happening, Larisa and I were delighted to see the inmates playing with Fruity Loops on their computers although, as Larisa quickly pointed out, we really need headphones in the lab if we want to avoid soundclashes. The riddims they were building sounded really great, and I think providing them with some further tutorials will give them to boost they need to make some truly amazing stuff.

But the inmates were not the only ones playing with Fruity Loops! Officer Simms, the officer stationed down there at the time, had created his own riddim that proved very popular with the inmates. Before we knew it, three of them were jamming to it inside the radio room. Kiki, Jason, and Serano took turns chatting over the riddim with astonishing ability. With lightning speed, they all generated lyrics that were clever not only in rhythm and rhyme but also in content–most of them were incredibly socially conscious and much more deep and mature than most of the songs out there today. This improvisational jam session went on continuously for about half an hour, and I really wish we could’ve videotaped it. It was such a wonderful manifestation of SET’s purpose: we had provided the tools and a bit of training, and the inmates just ran with it, putting their incredible creative energies to a positive use that even improved relations with the institution they were in. It gave us all a reminder of why it is that we spend our days in Jamaica inside prisons instead of on the beach, and we are totally grateful to the inmates for it.

-Christina-

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