Class Act: G-UNIT Producer Illmind teaches beats at Harlem Children’s Zone

JLBarrow • March 18, 2008 • 4 Comments

What do you do after you’ve made beats for Little Brother and 50 Cent? Teach someone else how to do it.

Two days a week Jersey producer Illmind packs a classroom at the Harlem Children’s Zone to instruct high school aged novices on the fine art of beatmaking.
“I was on Craigslist doing random searches for music and I saw Harlem Children’s Zone come up and Music Production. I clicked on the link or whatever and it took me to the site,” explains the G-Unit producer. “I sent them my little bio and discography and had a little mini interview and they were feeling my vibe. I came in and did a trial class session with ten kids for half an hour. I brought in my ASR-10 and vibed out with the kids.”

The Harlem Children’s Zone was founded in 1970 as a pioneering, non-profit, community-based organization that works to enhance the quality of life for children and families in some of New York City’s most devastated neighborhoods. Formerly known as Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families, HCZ, Inc.’s 15 centers serve more than 13,000 children and adults, including over 10,000 at-risk children.

“The kids knew my work, I really didn’t expect them to,” he says. “It was cool cuz it’s up to the kids to determine if they want you to teach there. So after the session they told me they wanted me and I got hired.”

Illmind’s classes meet on Monday and Wednesday from 4:30 to 7:00 pm and his curriculum is entirely up to him.

“A lot of them want to do different things. I have five MCs and six producers and the rest want to be A&Rs, so I modeled my class like a record label so they get a feel of how the music industry works. I’ve got the producers making beats on the laptops and the MCs writing to the beats and the A&Rs giving them feedback. The Marketing people have to make MySpace pages and write bios. They’re keeping busy. It’s crazy.”

The classroom is equipped with six laptops running FL Studio (Fruity Loops) and he’s put in an order for a Roland Fantom keyboard and Propellerhead’s Reason.
“We’re gonna build a studio in the basement,” he says proudly. “My class is the biggest class in the building. I’m taking the kids to Baseline studios for a class trip.”

Interest in the class is growing and enrollment has doubled from the previous year. Illmind hopes to have the students showcase their finished work later this year at Harlem’s historic Apollo Theatre.

“These kids are so into it because it’s an after school program and it’s voluntary,” says Illmind. “They’re just real hungry. The goal is to give them an alternative to being on the street.”

To find out more about the Harlem Children’s Zone, visit their website at

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