By Samantha Bergeson
Musician and recording engineer DJ Mike Boston knows that there needs to be a change in cities, not just the one that shares his name. So he did something about it, mixing his passion for producing with inner city youth. Boston founded Mobile Stu, a standard recording studio that he runs out of his pickup truck along the streets of the city. Kids from a variety of communities rap freestyle or written prose– whatever they’re feeling at that moment.
“A lot of these kids don’t realize that these creative opportunities exist. They just see rappers coming up out of nowhere and they’re like ‘why not us?’ They’re feeling undervalued,” Boston told Fast Company magazine. “They’re just thirsting to express themselves, but they don’t have the access to the equipment.”
Forty-one year-old Boston used his Mobile Stu to launch the #BlackWithBlue campaign focused on calming tensions between police officers and locals in the city of Boston. The community-collaborative effort resulted in a song entitled “One Beat For Peace,” featuring local kids and officers rapping verses together.
Boston’s own past drives his Mobile Stu initiative. “I remember the first time I ever heard myself recorded, it inspired me to keep recording,” says Boston. “I wanted to show other people that, but a lot of them can’t afford to go to major studio.”
The arts without borders–socioeconomic or racial–is a much-needed addition to the city of Boston. Although the Mobile Stu visits a variety of areas, the Dorchester neighborhood after a recent fatal shooting of a 16 year-old boy. “These guys, they were just so tense and ready to put it on anybody, but when I showed up there and they saw that they could record a song in the studio, it was just totally took their mind off the pain,” Boston said. Boston primarily recorded kids from the Boys and Girls Club in Dorchester, acting as a sort of therapy.
Boston’s main goal is to diffuse tensions and debunk assumptions within urban communities–particularly among law enforcement and the people they serve. “Music brings people together. I’ve seen it work,” Boston said.
Kids cannot contain their excitement whenever the Mobile Stu rolls through their neighborhood. The pickup truck donned with microphones and Beats headphones incites a hopefulness. “The [kids’] mouths are wide open. Jaws dropped. They think, ‘I matter enough that this thing came to my neighborhood,'” Boston said. “I try to tell ’em all the time, ‘You deserve this. You deserve better.'”
And who knows? Maybe the next big rapper will be discovered by Boston and the Mobile Stu. “The best rappers are on the street corner,” Boston said. “There are so many people better than me out here. I want to shine a light on those guys.”
Boston hopes to expand the project to other cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia.
Check out the #BlackWithBlue song “One Beat For Peace”: