zines need love too!
What advice would you give to your younger self? @TiffanyPersons shares a letter she wrote. #womeninspire @Gapinc  →
This Week in Beat Making: Sounds from a Notorious Panamanian Prison This Week in Beat Making: Sounds from a Notorious Panamanian Prison

This Week in Beat Making: Sounds from a Notorious Panamanian Prison

by Pierce Freelon
May 2, 2013

I was headed to Panama to build a Beat Making Lab—a mobile electronic studio—at a community center in Portobelo when my business partner Apple Juice Kid got an interesting call. Apparently there was a studio in the rain forests of Gamboa, where an incarcerated DJ named Professor Angel Sound was making beats in a prison—the same prison that houses Manuel Noriega (yes, the real Noriega).

We didn't know what to expect, but we did everything we could to get permission to go in there and collaborate with him. When we finally got the green light from the warden, we took a taxi out to Gamboa and ended up at a studio called RAM, or Rehabilitacion a Traves de la Musica (rehabilitation through music) where Apple Juice Kid and Professor Angel Sound created a beat with found sounds recorded around the studio/prison cell.

Audio samples included a leaky faucet, clicking handcuffs, a guitar, and an enthusiastic inmate with an appetite for macaroni and cheese. Prof. Angel Sound is a real interesting dude—he told us that he ended up in prison after being blackmailed into muling cocaine for the Nigerian mafia. Turning a negative into a positive, he's done some incredible work with RAM during his time on the inside. He told us, "Music is an amazing medicine for the soul and for the spirit." So we made a little medicine with him. Check it out in the video below:

Beat Making Lab builds studios in cultural centers around the world and trains youth musicians in the art of beat making. This post is part of a weekly series on GOOD—follow our adventures with new episodes here every Wednesday.

Join the discussion
  • This Tree Produces Forty Types of Fruit The living, edible art of Sam Van Aken's grafted stone fruit experiment
    Maxwell Williams
  • Dear 14-Year-Old Me The intuitive, emotional side of yourself guides your experiences and shapes how you learn. You grasp information viscerally, which can make traditional schooling a little bit harder for you.
    Tiffany Persons
  • Danish Architects Reimagine the Zoo The search for a more ethical wildlife park
    Caroline Pham
  • Learning to Farm Fish Responsibly Breakthroughs in aquaculture are winning over longtime skeptics.
    Kelly McCartney
  • Stories for Boys Sundance-winner Rich Hill picks up where Linklater left off.
    Joshua Neuman
  • The Human Side of Spam Spanish photographer Christina de Middel smudges fact and fiction with her staged images of Russian widows and Nigerian lawyers in distress.
    Caroline Pham