Teen Music-Maker Showdown Provides Creative Outlet for Mass Youth During COVID-19

Last week, Massachusetts teens had the opportunity to show off their musical skills through the Teen Music-Maker Showdown, the product of a partnership between the Boston Public Library (BPL) and The Hip Hop Transformation (THHT), a music program for teens at the Cambridge Community Center.

Local hip-hop powerhouse and THHT’s director of artist development Red Shaydez tells me the collaboration started with a direct message on Twitter. Lower Mills Librarian Ritse Adefolalu asked her for recommendations from teenage producers who would like their beats to be shown on BPL’s Twitch streams. From this message was born the possible collaboration between THHT and BPL. Shaydez and his team began meeting with librarians every two weeks to plan and promote events and workshops, leading up to the eventual competition, which was held on March 5. The three contest winners received Visa gift cards, as well as a commission to produce new music. for the library.

“It’s been a lot of hard work and planning,” said Red Shaydez. “Memos were sent to the BPS. Other libraries came to us and began to support us in the Greater Boston area. Shaydez also broke the news to students of a class she teaches at a charter high school in Cambridge. “About two weeks before the submission deadline, we started ramping up social media, and because people – kids and adults alike – love last minute pressure, we’ve received a large number of submissions over the past two years. nights. “

The competition began on February 5 with a launch event on Twitch, where the nature of the competition was explained: Entrants, ages 13-18 from Boston and the Greater Boston Area, were required to submit an original track, no more than seven minutes and no impiety. Songs would be judged on their originality, quality of structure and performance. The kickoff was followed by a music creation workshop on February 17, hosted by Red Shaydez, fellow THHT Lightfoot and Flash contributors, and representatives from Boston youth organization Zumix. There, participants were able to get answers to their questions about the competition and the production as a whole, and received constructive feedback on potential submissions. The event culminated with a Twitch awards show broadcast live on March 5, hosted by Adefolalu, Shaydez, Flash and Lightfoot. In addition to celebrating the last three winners, the audience got to hear ten of the strongest submissions, out of a total of 75 received. The awards went to Brookline’s Jamie Glover in third place for “Love Will Come Again”, Nayely of Chelsea for the song “Infinity” in second place and Dorchester’s The Loop taking home the top prize for their song “Affirmations”.

The showdown showcased the diverse talent of teens in the Boston and Greater Massachusetts area. Shaydez says the submissions covered a wide range of genres and topics.

“There were a lot of love songs,” she tells me. “The kids have a lot to say about their feelings and their love. There were trap songs, which was great because I know they are influenced by what they hear on the radio. Some of them sound really professional, and others have made it to their computers, which was also fun, raw, and genuine. “

Red Shaydez has worked with THHT since 2016, first as an advisor and helping kids polish their songs and polish their sound. THHT typically runs a seven-week summer program dedicated to teaching kids the art of hip hop – from music and dance to the ins and outs of the industry – that ends with a showcase, but this program was interrupted due to COVID-19. With the Teen Music-Maker Showdown, the THHT and the Boston Public Library hoped to provide an alternative creative outlet for teens statewide.

“Music is always a big passion or a hobby that kids have and share, especially with apps like TikTok and Twitter,” Shaydez said. “I know a lot of people express themselves better through creativity. And with so many artists, producers, beatmakers, it’s a great way to get them to be creative, while getting paid.”

If you missed this year’s competition, don’t worry; next year’s showdown is already in preparation.

“I guess it’s doing wonders in the community,” Shaydez said. “And I hope it gets to something even bigger next year.”

Attend the awards ceremony here.

Alice P. Darby