7 episodes

As four men are held in a Virginia jail, they record an album to chronicle their efforts to break free from an oppressive cycle of addiction and incarceration. In each music-infused episode of this documentary series, host and trailblazing hip-hop artist Speech Thomas meets a musician at a crossroads in their uphill struggle for freedom, learns what brought them to this inflection point, and helps them record a song that captures this critical moment in their life. From soulful country to fiery hip-hop and haunting R&B, this music affirms the lives of people who are written off by society. And amidst a re-entry crisis afflicting millions of Americans every year, these intimate stories from behind the walls of a local jail ask: What does it take to rebuild a life after incarceration?

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    • Society & Culture

As four men are held in a Virginia jail, they record an album to chronicle their efforts to break free from an oppressive cycle of addiction and incarceration. In each music-infused episode of this documentary series, host and trailblazing hip-hop artist Speech Thomas meets a musician at a crossroads in their uphill struggle for freedom, learns what brought them to this inflection point, and helps them record a song that captures this critical moment in their life. From soulful country to fiery hip-hop and haunting R&B, this music affirms the lives of people who are written off by society. And amidst a re-entry crisis afflicting millions of Americans every year, these intimate stories from behind the walls of a local jail ask: What does it take to rebuild a life after incarceration?

    01. I Wrote This to Inspire

    01. I Wrote This to Inspire

    Recently freed from a state prison, rap prodigy Teddy navigates the enormity of landing a job, healing from childhood trauma, and staying sober all at the same time.

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    • 30 min
    02. I Know I'm Getting Stronger

    02. I Know I'm Getting Stronger

    While awaiting his court date, country singer-songwriter Garland reckons with his own choices and tries to lay down a stronger foundation with his girlfriend, Kelly.

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    • 29 min
    03. I'm Tired of Recidivism

    03. I'm Tired of Recidivism

    Struggling to keep up with his rehabilitation program, amateur rapper Anthony confronts the damage done by an entire life spent fighting for survival.

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    • 26 min
    04. I Gotta Break These Chains

    04. I Gotta Break These Chains

    With his release from jail just weeks away, hip-hop musician Devonte does everything he can to balance the love he has for his family against the big risks that come with their history.

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    • 28 min
    05. Before the Miracle Happens

    05. Before the Miracle Happens

    Seven years after the REAL program left the Richmond city jail, Speech shares what's happened to the men he made music with — and reflects on what it takes to solve the nationwide re-entry crisis that they're grappling with.

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    • 37 min
    Track Change Presents: "I'm Somebody's Hero" from Uncuffed and KALW Public Radio

    Track Change Presents: "I'm Somebody's Hero" from Uncuffed and KALW Public Radio

    Growing up, Thanh Tran never felt like he had a home. He was raised in the foster care system, was in and out of juvenile hall as a teenager, and went to prison at 18. Just over a decade later, he got what he had been working toward for years: freedom. This record of Thanh's journey comes from Uncuffed, an audio storytelling program based out of California's San Quentin and Solano State prisons.

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    • 41 min

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