Music & Entertainment

Welcome to Project ME

Jay Z, Mary J Blige, Beyonce, and Kanye West, are just a few of the mega pop and hip hop stars in the world today.  Most youth listen to their music, watch their videos, and aspire to be like them in some fascinating way.  Near West, in conjunction with Triple O Multimedia Co. has created a comprehensive music and entertainment course for Youth in Action participants. Former recording artist and music professional Mr. Gravity, helps youth write songs, record music, and shoot a music video.

What makes this class special is that it doesn’t solely focus on youth with musical talents. Youth also learn about the various careers behind the scenes.  It teaches youth how to really make an impact financially in the music and entertainment business. This is one of the best youth programs in Chicago.

Near West regularly brings together 12 kids to form a Music & Entertainment class with high school students to write, produce, record and shoot a music video for an uplifting song, such as the debut titled “Make It”! These young men and women prove that counting them out is not an option, by displaying hard work and long hours to pull off an incredible project!

 Our Project ME YouTube Playlist:

Interview teacher & producer of Project ME:

We sat down with the teacher and producer of Project ME, Andrew “Gravity” Kirkland (of OOO Multimedium) to get the behind the story on the making of these inspirational videos:

Q: How did Project ME come about?

A: The main purpose of the course was to expose the kids to some of the many career choices in the music business in reference to the entertainment world and to give them an idea of what some of the salary brackets are associated with those positions. This included not only what it was to be the actual artist, but the manager, publicist, songwriter, producer, careers in radio etc.. I wanted the kids to understand that if you are passionate about music and have a true love for it but may not be skilled enough to be the actual artist, there are still plenty of places for you in the industry and you can still contribute to the creation of great music!They learned about rhythmic cadences, melodies, measures, song structure, different types of microphones, proper studio etiquette &jargon as well as things like publishing, split sheets for writers and producers, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and other important business and creative aspects of the music world.

Q: Teach kids how to write, sing, record through the process of creating a music video?

A: The purpose of the video was to show what happens when you take passion, mix it with knowledge, apply them to a plan and follow through on that plan! Success! We recorded the song, got a mix on the song, shot the video and got the edit all in just under TWO WEEKS! Amazing! We are talking about 12 kids (3 singers & 8 lyricists) who had very minimal or no prior studio experience and nailed all of the vocals in one session! I have been in the entertainment business for quite some time and trust me when I tell you that is nothing short of amazing! The idea was to do everything super high quality so that these kids could see themselves in a different light. If they can see themselves in the same light as they see Lil Wayne or any of their favorite artists and understand what it takes to pull it off, then the idea becomes very real for them! They get the chance to dream at night and “live in the dream” when they wake up every day!

Q: What inspired such a positive song?

A: The inspiration for such a positive song came from what I saw in these young men and women! Myself! When I told people of what I was planning to do with this class they all thought it was a fabulous idea until I told them I was doing it at Crane! I couldn’t believe that people were writing off an entire student body based on hearsay or bad press! I originally grew up in Harlem N.Y. and I remember how it felt for people to prejudge me and what I had to offer. Sadly I still deal with being prejudged today as an adult, but now I have the power and means to prove those people wrong all of the time. I decided to treat these kids the same way I so often wished and still wish to be treated, and give them the power to change people’s perspective of who they are and what they have to offer! The positivity associated with the song was just the way to do it! I refused to take for granted the fact that these kids were staying an extra 3 hours after school for one class when they had just finished a seven hour day covering several classes! These kids were putting in the time but nobody was showing them or giving them anything in return? How do you give a dog a treat for rolling over but not give a kid anything for 3 extra hours?! Not only did they do an incredible job of writing and performing their lyrics, but the music itself was produced by one of the students (Joseph Price) who is just 15 and a freshman! Positivity matched with young men and women so talented was bound to have an impact on the world! The fact they were taking the time out and willing to follow through meant that they deserved to be able to show the world that maybe they have the wrong idea about the students at Crane! Maybe they have the wrong idea of who the inner city youth really is, period!

Q: What did the kids think?

A: According to the kids, they had no idea the project would come out so well! I could feel that in some way or somehow, these kids have been promised a lot of things by adults but have been let down more than once. Letting them down just wasn’t an option for me! To see the look on their faces when they saw the video for the first time was priceless! I could see that the time we put in had made a lifelong impression on them! I could see them open themselves to a new truth in their lives! Breathtaking!

Q: What has people’s reaction been?

A: People’s reaction has been nothing short of wonderful! People are relieved to see the smiles on these kids’ faces as they shock the world via their talent and ability to follow through! Give these kids love and you just might get it back! Give them a chance to change, and they just might change you! These kids are touching everyone that sees them and whether they know it or not, the energy that they have put in the universe is changing the world as we speak!