Music + Activism: PBS Beat Making Lab

PBS Beat Making Lab

Beat Making Lab is an incredible new PBS show devoted to music and empowering young people. Created by producer/DJ Stephen Levitin (aka the Apple Juice Kid) in partnership with professor and hip hop artist Pierce Freelon, who both teach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Beat Making Lab crew brings portable studios “small enough to fit in a backpack” to youths around the world. Their goal is to make a social impact by giving young people the tools to change their lives through making songs and beats. The first episode takes Freelon and Levitin—in collaboration with Yole!Africa—to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We use reason and audacity to make beats,” Professor Freelon says. Along with Yole!Africa, the Beat Making Lab team mentored 20 young people in Goma, in DIY music production; in turn, the students are expected to teach others in their community. Everything is done on a laptop, which students use as an instrument to learn songwriting, sampling, and composition, and the results are stunning, as you’ll see in the video below. The Beat Making Lab crew already has support from the folks at the Mad Decent record label, and more labs are being set up in Panama, Senegal, and Fiji. Take a look at the first episode below and check out more here.

May 8, 2013 / By