Mike Boston knows first-hand the tension between cops and kids in neighborhoods like Roxbury, because he was once one of those kids himself. Artistry through rap music was Mike’s escape. Years later, it gave him a big idea: maybe one way to lay down arms is for cops and kids to lay down some tracks together.
Enter Mobile Stü, a recording studio that operates out of the back of Boston’s retrofitted pick-up truck, which today drops its first anthem track: “#BlackwithBlue, ‘One Beat for Peace.’” The anthem track was recorded together by Boston police officers and youth in the city’s Dorchester neighborhood, as a positive means for venting frustration and overcoming the continued violence and mutual distrust between law enforcement and kids in communities such as Dorchester.
Watch the video documenting the recording session here. Download the anthem track here; all proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester, where the recording session took place.
Boston is a Roxbury, Mass.-based rapper-entrepreneur-activist who also works at the advertising agency Allen & Gerritsen (A&G). Mike goes way beyond his job as facilities associate, applying his voice talent to work such as the agency’s “Green Runs Deep” campaign for the Boston Celtics, and writing weekly raps that have been featured in Adweek.
Mike’s colleagues were so inspired by his vision for de-escalating conflict and spreading peace that they determined Mobile Stü should be the focus of the agency’s holiday philanthropic initiative Action & Goodness, which challenges the agency to use its creative powers for good.
“Music is my passion, but I also spend a lot of my time working with young people who are at high risk for incarceration,” said Boston. “I started bringing Mobile Stü around the neighborhood, after crimes, when emotions were running high and tensions with police even higher, and letting kids express their anger and frustration through rap. I was blown away to see how a single recording session could change the mood, and stop the need for retaliation and further violence.”
“I also realized that police officers could help to stop the violence by showing themselves as people--rather than uniforms--through making music together with the kids in the community,” Boston continued. “The city of Boston is home, and it’s where we’re starting, but my dream is to bring Mobile Stü and its message to cities across the country.”
"Over the years, I have learned what community policing is all about, which is developing relationships with kids early on,” said Nora Baston, Boston Police deputy superintendent. “You can't underestimate the power of those formative connections. With the help of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester and people like Mike Boston and his Mobile Stü, it only makes officers' lives that much easier."
“Mike’s such an inspiring guy to work with,” said Chris Lee, senior vice president, group creative director at A&G. “He straddles very different worlds and always stays true to himself. We’ve all been deeply affected by the unrest and distrust that continues to grow between law enforcement and the communities they serve. While Mike lives and laments the tragedies, he has taken the initiative to do his own small part to spur positivity. He is an example for us all. We are thrilled to support his efforts.”
To bring awareness to Mobile Stü, A&G launched the #BlackwithBlue campaign and organized a community activation in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester. The Clubs hosted Mobile Stü and law enforcement, encouraging police officers and club members to record music together--expressing frustration and compassion concurrently. The session encouraged meaningful, thoughtful back-and-forth dialogue between police officers and youth in an effort to be truly “black with blue,” joining the two groups together via their shared hopes for their communities, and through their shared humanity.
“We’re a purpose-driven agency, and have been proud to be long-time supporters of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester,” said Andrew Graff, chief executive officer at A&G. “#BlackwithBlue elevates our commitment to purposeful social change, and we’re so proud to help Mike fulfill his vision for Mobile Stü.”
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