Rap and Redemption on Death Row
By Alim Braxton and Mark Katz
February 9-10 at 2023 7:30pm
Swain Hall Black Box Theater
Rap and Redemption on Death Row by Alim Braxton and Mark Katz is based on the correspondence between Mark Katz and death row inmate Alim Braxton and is presented in conjunction with the release of their book and record album. According to Katz, “Alim and I have now been corresponding for over a year. His seventy-five letters so far—well over two-hundred handwritten pages—have chronicled an eventful year that has included the tragic death of his sister, a cruel and unwarranted thirty-seven-day stint in isolation, his work on behalf of wrongfully convicted prisoners, the nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, and the reality of living on Death Row in the shadow of COVID-19. Both despite and because of his history, Alim Braxton has a great deal to teach us—about rap and redemption and so much more.”
Michael Jerome Braxton goes by the name Alim, the name he took when he accepted Islam in prison. Alim Braxton has been incarcerated since 1993, when he was nineteen years old. He has been on Death row for twenty-eight years and spent seven of those years in solitary confinement. He was sentenced to death for killing another inmate at the Caledonia Correctional Center in Halifax, where he was already serving a life sentence for killing a man during a robbery in Raleigh. He credits his faith with changing him. He is a rapper and musician who produces music on Death Row. With producer Nick Neutronz he has collaborated on more than a dozen hip hop tracks, among them “Unbreakable,” “White Cop,” “A Bigger Lover,” and “Round My Way.” Braxton is a co-author of Crimson Letters: Voices From Death Row.
Mark Katz is John P. Barker Distinguished Professor of Music; Founding Director, Next Level cultural Diplomacy Program; Associate Chair for Academic Studies in the Department of Music at UNC Chapel Hill. His scholarship focuses on music and technology, hip hop, cultural diplomacy, music and incarceration, and the violin. He has written five previous books, Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music (2004, rev. ed. 2010), The Violin: A Research and Information Guide (2006), Groove Music: The Art and Culture of the Hip-Hop DJ (2012), Build: The Power of Hip Hop Diplomacy in a Divided World (2019), and Music and Technology: A Very Short Introduction (2022)