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Rich Kidd discusses working with young inmates and inspiring change
Rich Kidd (Photo: Facebook)

Interview: Q&A

F-You: Rich Kidd discusses working with young inmates & inspiring change

“The men that I work with are in more dire situations than I was in my young years so I felt it was important that they have some inspiration in there to remind them they can change too.”

F-You: The Forgiveness Project, based in Toronto, is a social initiative that encourages the reflection of forgiveness towards ourselves and others.

“Forgive You/Forgive Yourself”

F-You has tackled various issues over the years including working with young men currently serving time in the Canadian prison system, or living in some form of custody.

F-You founder Tara Muldoon has a ton of ties to the Canadian hip-hop scene—including contributing to our efforts here at HipHopCanada—and decided to enlist the support of some Toronto hip-hop mainstays to take part in the outreach initiatives. Toronto producer-MCs Rich Kidd (of Naturally Born Strangers) and Solitair teamed up with F-You to share their own experiences with young inmates with hopes to inspire.

We caught up with Tara, Rich Kidd and Solitair to discuss The Forgiveness Project, working with young men in prison and how it has impacted their views of the Canadian prison system. We also asked Rich and Soli for updates on new music.

Check out the Q&A with Rich Kidd below.


Rich Kidd discusses working with young inmates and inspiring change

Q&A: Rich Kidd

HipHopCanada: How did you first get involved with the F-You: The Forgiveness Project?

Rich Kidd: To be honest, I don’t remember when I first got involved but I do know Tara Muldoon was my publicist when she started the F-You initiative and from the jump I was supportive of the movement. The first event I remember was in 2010 where my friend, Jebril Jalloh aka Fresh was speaking on a panel. From there I seen it grow into the force it is now and made sure any help Tara needed, I was there to lend a hand.

HipHopCanada: What inspired you to reach out and work with young men serving prison sentences or are in some form of custody?

RK: I have been in the system before. I’ve seen the inside of a correctional facility as an inmate so I can identify with their situation. Now, luckily for me I had a chance to get my life together. I had a dream, pursued it and promised myself I’d never seen the inside of a jail again. The men that I work with are in more dire situations than I was in my young years so I felt it was important that they have some inspiration in there to remind them they can change too.

HipHopCanada: Can you speak on some of the different people you’ve met in the process? What type of people are leaving the biggest impression on you?

RK: I’ve met so many interesting people. An aboriginal man, former gang member, I met in the indigenous unit gave me a drawing he made while inside because he noticed my face from aboriginal hip-hop documentary I hosted by Vice/Noisey. I’ve met older people who have been in the prison system their whole life with so much wisdom. I’ve also met local artists inside that have popular songs being played all over the city but are sitting in jail for attempted murder. I can’t really tell you who left the biggest impression on me yet but I will say every inmates story connects with me on a level where I gain more understanding about myself and my situation.

HipHopCanada: Do you think this experience will impact who you are as a recording artist/producer?

RK: For sure. The beats I been making within the program have been more harder and aggressive. I think there’s something about being around men accused of murder, assault and drug dealing that makes your content a little more bad-ass.

HipHopCanada: Has this experience changed your view of Canada’s prison system?

RK: Not really. Being an inmate before, knowing family and family that have been in the system and even teaching youth about the prison industrial complex; I’ve come to understand that correctional facilities aren’t built for rehabilitation or correcting behaviour. Toronto South Detention is definitely a different kind of jail. Any kind of jail that would allow me to go inside and teach how to make hip-hop beats is a different kind of jail. I think they are taking new approach towards programs and I applaud that.

HipHopCanada: Notwithstanding the notion that “everyone is a rapper,” but would it be unfair to say that there seems to be more Toronto rappers incarcerated at the same time, more than ever before? If so, is it just a coincidence or do you believe there are other factors at play?

RK: It would seem like one but it really isn’t. Yes, these men are rappers but they are human beings first. They are youth that haven’t had access to a proper education, resources, and a stable household among other things and lost their way. I think you can argue that the city’s more popular underground rappers are incarcerated at the moment but I don’t think it’s any kind of conspiracy involving police targeting rappers. Majority of street rappers put themselves on front street with how they live and what they do so why wouldn’t they target criminals that snitch on themselves.

HipHopCanada: Lastly, to keep the Rich Kidd fans up to date, do you have any new music in the works? How likely are we to see another edition to your Rich Kidd Shit series?

RK: Yes. Currently finishing some projects up. Naturally Born Strangers being first. My second solo album being second. Producing a whole lot. I think Rich Kidd Shit ran its course. I’ll do something similar in the future but with a different name.


Rich Kidd discusses working with young inmates and inspiring change

You can follow @RichKiddBeats on Instagram.

Written by Jesse Plunkett for HipHopCanada

Jesse founded in 1999 and is currently the organization's Co-President & Editor-in-Chief.

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