This Recording Studio Provides A Soundtrack For Peace Between Police And Inner-City Kids

March to the beat of this.

Mic check, one, two, one, two. Here's a little story about Mobile Stü.

Ok, so it may not be a clever rhyme, but the idea behind Mobile Stü certainly is. It's a mobile recording studio aimed at building a mutual respect between police and kids through rap.

Creator Mike Boston took to the streets of his beloved Massachusetts city after rigging the pickup truck his late father left him in 2012, transforming it into a traveling recording studio.

"They can record inside with a soundproof booth kind of effect, or I can put the microphone on the back and all their friends could get into a cipher," he explained in a promotional video. "It's a motivator for young people so that their voices are being heard."


Photo Credit: Erika Weatherbee, Allen & Gerritsen

It's also a way for inner-city children — many of whom fear police — to see cops in a more human way and not just as authorities or enemies.

"Getting police into communities, and interacting with youth and community members is key because it demonstrates that the police are also human beings with emotions and hardships," Mike told A Plus, adding, "In order to have some level of respect between the Black community and law enforcement, there needs to be accountability on both ends."  

He found a unique way to start a peaceful conversation between police and inner-city, often at-risk kids — with beats and rhymes.

"Music is one of those creative forms of expression that can help heal, and it's such a universal topic that all walks of life can relate to it," he said. "It's about trying to face the issues (between police and communities of color) head on versus trying to act like they don't exist. If that can happen, then change can start to take shape."

Courtesy of Mobile Stü's "One Beat For Peace"

But the brighter days Mike is hoping to create with Mobile Stü are still a long way away, as police brutality continues across the country alongside the Black Lives Matter movement. Still, he moves forward because the cause hits too close to home.

Mike Boston knows all too well how it feels to be a kid growing up in the inner city with few outlets to express the realities of day-to-day life because he was one himself.

As a kid growing up in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Mike always had a love for music and started off as a DJ.

"After years of being a DJ, I realized I couldn't be incredibly mobile with my turntables due to timing and financial restraints, so I transitioned into rapping. I started writing my own songs and quickly learned how to record at home because renting space at other locations was too expensive," he told A Plus. "After years of rapping, I started recording others and quickly realized that I had a knack for not only recording quality sound, but also helping people find their best voice."

Mike Boston hugs a Boston police officer. Photo Credit: Erika Weatherbee, Allen & Gerritsen

This is when he began thinking about ways to "get at young people who can't get to the studio or don't even think they have an opportunity to do a song."

What he found with Mobile Stü was that it created a vehicle of expression for young people that was both positive and safe, a contrast to the environment they live in.

"There was a 16-year-old young man that was murdered in Dorchester," he said in the video. "I went over there with Mobile Stü, and as I was pulling up, everybody was hostile and intense, ready to react to anything."

As the police circled the crowd, flashing their lights, Mike asked one of the kids to check out some beats and they almost instantly started recording music, despite the tension-filled atmosphere.

"Next thing you know there's 50 people around my truck Snapchatting, Instagramming, because they'd never seen anything like this," Mike continued.

Photo Credit: Erika Weatherbee, Allen & Gerritsen

When the police circled back around they shut off their flashing lights, watched the peaceful crowd that had formed by the truck, and were stunned to see how Mobile Stü had "just de-escalated a situation using music."

Eventually, the project inspired the police and local kids to record a song together, entitled "One Beat for Peace," in which a local woman lends her voice to singing the hook that says, "We make color lines shatter / We're all on the same side in the Mobile Stü."

Mobile Stü was the winner of Allen & Gerritsen's "Idea Sabbatical," a Shark-Tank-style competition in which people submit entrepreneurial ideas that they've been wanting to pursue but haven't been able to due to restraints on resources and/or time.

"I've been working on Mobile Stü for a while now, but things have blown up in the last few months with the support of the team at A&G and the launch of the #blackwithblue campaign," Mike told A Plus. "I've also received requests from civic leaders in other communities to bring Mobile Stü to their cities."  

For Mike Boston, the success of Mobile Stü isn't just for the sake of the community, it's personal. After a stint in prison as a young man, he changed the path of his life with the help of music. Now, he's helping others to do the same.

"While in prison, I had time to sit with myself and really think about what I wanted my life to be," he recalled to A Plus. "I started writing songs — multiple songs in one day — and realized my purpose and potential. When I was released from prison, I took control of my life and realized the leader I could become."

Learn more about Mike Boston and Mobile Stü:


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