Die Jim Crow Records is the first record label in the United States for formerly and currently incarcerated musicians. Our mission is to provide our artists with a high quality platform for their voices to be heard.
Die Jim Crow Records began as an idea to basically make the greatest concept album of all time. In 2013, inspired by Michelle Alexander’s landmark book The New Jim Crow and Pink Floyd’s rock opera The Wall, artist/activist Fury Young embarked on the quixotic journey to make an epic double album about racial injustice in the U.S. prison system.
The initial idea was to work with formerly and currently incarcerated black musicians to form a collective narrative that spanned pre-prison, prison, and reentry. Though Young, who identifies as a “New York Jew,” had never been incarcerated or produced a single song before, his personal experiences with friends who had been to prison led to him pioneering the project with a ceaseless conviction.
In March 2019, after a trip down south in which Young and co-producer/engineer dr. Israel recorded 25 new collaborators in three prisons, it became clear that Die Jim Crow was no longer an LP project but a record label. With dozens of unreleased recordings that would not fit on one album, and so many inspiring voices that demanded to be heard, Young approached the Die Jim Crow board of directors with the idea of this record label evolution. With unanimous consent, the focus of DJC shifted from concept album to record label.
Productions or Exhibits of Artist Work
Artists currently signed to Die Jim Crow:
Mid February, 2020; an officer training room a few doors down from the main entrance of the Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution, B. Alexis stands poised behind the mic. The motley crew of executive producer BL Shirelle, beatmaker Trvp Lvne, engineer dr. Israel, and videographer Fury Young have turned the room into their recording studio for the next five days.
B.Alexis has been ready for this moment for awhile now. Incarcerated for the past twelve years and writing the entire time, her bars are foolproof and her delivery is sure shot. For those five days, she will dominate the mic and set fire to her written visions.
B.Alexis ’ debut EP promises to be an introspective journey of a streetsmart-meets-booksmart rapper who channels the firmness of Scarface and the mystique of Lauryn Hill.
Look out for this project in 2021.
Philadelphia native BL Shirelle is an accomplished musician, producer and songwriter. In addition, Shirelle serves as Deputy Director of Die Jim Crow Records, the first non-profit record label in United States history for currently and formerly incarcerated artists.
After serving ten years in prison herself, Shirelle is dedicated to social change and activism through her music and work with DJC Records. Shirelle has been a guest speaker at colleges across America, educating youth on mass incarceration. She has spoken at Augustana University, Stockton University, Goucher University, and Susquehanna University. She also continues to work with artists still in prison to produce and share their music on high-quality platforms.
Her debut solo album ASSATA TROI will be released with DJC Records June 19th, 2020. Shirelle’s new wave, yet classic sound is a sonic exploration of Hip Hop, Rock, Blues, and R&B, with incredible lyricism coupled with complex instrumentation.
Shirelle and her work have been featured in Rolling Stone, PBS/Whyy, The Indypendent, Flowertown, Ms. Magazine, Bushwick Daily, Aesthetics For Birds, and We Want The Airwaves among others.
Die Jim Crow EP
Where it all began, the Die Jim Crow EP.
A six-song album recorded with incarcerated musicians at Warren Correctional Institution (Lebanon, OH) and with formerly incarcerated artists in Philadelphia and New York. Additional instrumentation provided by musicians in New Orleans LA, Boston MA, Los Angeles CA, and Brooklyn NY.
Big Ant – give the drummer some, not to mention the singer / rapper / guitarist
Mark Springer – the keys, the soul, the heart
C-Will – the inimitable, the emphatic
Apostle Heloise – the voice that is a force of nature
Carl Dukes – the smooth cat
BL Shirelle – you already know…. and if you don’t.
The Masses are Epic Hip Hop. The formed in 2019 at Allendale Correctional Institution, a medium security prison in Fairfax, South Carolina, during the first round of DJC sessions. Like Wu Tang before them, they are a group of comrades with an uncanny energy. If you took the Wu, threw in The Roots and Hot Boyz, you might have something close… but nothing quite like The Masses.
Territorial. The first prison built in Colorado. Seven musicians. An abstract journey from pre-prison to prison to reentry in the form of Americana: blues, rock, Native chant, gospel, hip hop.
In April 2018, Fury Young and dr. Israel spent four days with these musicians and recorded over a dozen songs. In the Fall 2020, we release the Territorial album, something altogether new for DJC Records.
Looking for intern Video Editors, Grant Writers, and Development Assistants
If you are a performing artist and would like to perform at one of DJC’s digital Zoom benefit shows, please contact DJC! Their current series is for getting PPE into prisons across the country as a response to COVID.