One Nation, Invisible

The untold story of local hip hop: 1981 to 1996

Peyton: At Juxtaposition Arts, my organization with Roger Cummings, a lot of what we teach is graffiti. We don't separate the spray can from the paintbrush. We try to teach it as just another medium of art.

T.C. Ellis: Around '95 I opened a recording studio in an office building that was part of the skyway system in downtown St. Paul. In the wintertime, all the kids would hang out in the skyway, so they was always coming to my studio, saying, "Can you let us use the studio? I'm the best rapper."

One day, a client didn't show up, so I opened the studio to these kids. They were extremely talented. I was just blown away by what they were doing. Then after that, they wanted to know, "How do you copyright?" They were bombarding me with questions. I realized these young people are motivated to educate themselves through learning about the music industry. Me, I had gotten kicked out of a couple different schools in my time, so I had a kinship to the experience that these young people were dealing with. I talked to Dr. Wayne Jennings, an education innovator. I told him what I saw, and he mentored me and helped me put together a program for these kids, the High School for Recording Arts.

I Self Devine: One of the things that kept me doing this for so long is that I remember the faces of those people who were so talented, but never really made it.

Stage One: There's a whole generation of people whose dreams got shot. I know people that are just now seeing that "Okay, man, that stuff I did when I was a kid, I could have turned that into something." A lot of dudes at that time that were very talented, a lot of dudes I looked up to on the graffiti scene, started going to jail around '89, '90. And they just now coming home. Just now. And they're like, "Wow, you're still at it." And my thing is, it's not too late. It's never too late.

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