Tapping the Inner Power Through Music
Bernard Conner and John Spanier are both students who attend digital music classes at Project HOME’s Teen Program at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs. As part of an ongoing project, students are involved in developing their own record label – Inner Power Records. They have plans to release their first full-length album in just a few months. Bernard, who is the front man for the label, spends a majority of his time writing and recording songs with other students in the class. Bernard's persistence, creative vision, and clever wordplay make him a huge asset. John is a gifted writer who functions mainly behind the scenes helping out with songwriting and promotion. John has earned writing credits for several songs which will be featured on the album. Below is an interview with Bernard and John about their experience with Inner Power Records.
What does the name Inner Power Records mean to you?
BERNARD: Inner Power Records means the talent/gift in all of us. Not just teenagers, but everybody who acknowledges their true talent.
JOHN: The name Inner Power Records means the power that comes from inside. Everyone can see what talents you have on the outside, but there's always one special talent that everyone has but needs to tap into it and express it so the world can see it.
What is the album all about?
BERNARD: The album is about positively impacting the community. That also falls into the theme of our label. The songs on the album are very diverse, featuring rapping, singing, and even poetry.
JOHN: This album is all about healing the community. Our songs tell stories about the problems that most teens face every day in our community. The songs tell how our community is falling apart and teens are choosing the wrong paths by doing some illegal things they see in the community. We also tell how even though we are faced with these problems, we overcome them, and because we are wise enough to see, we have a future waiting for us.
BERNARD: To give you some examples, the song “Red Rain” is a song of the pains and struggles of the community as a whole – from struggling mothers left home with kids to the fathers locked up for drug dealing. Red rain symbolizes the blood that constantly drops to no end. The death rate is ridiculous in Philadelphia. Another song would be “Have A Little Faith” which is more about being positive in a negative place – like the city and world we live in.
Who are your musical influences?
BERNARD: My music influences are Jay-Z, Tech N9ne, and Eminem. Their lyrical styles in my opinion are very diverse and unique.
JOHN: B.o.B, Andre 3000, Lupe Fiasco, Bruno Mars, One Republic, Ke$ha, Avril Lavigne, Adele, Alicia Keys, Hayley Williams. These are just a few of my musical influences. I don't just listen to Hip Hop, I like to listen to different genres so I get a taste of what other artist are like.
What are your goals in the music industry?
BERNARD: To be heard from a more conscious perspective, while at the same time being respected by all genres of hip hop/rap music.
JOHN: My goals in the music industry are quite simple. To promote new and upcoming artists and to produce music that makes people feel positive about themselves.
How do you feel about Hip Hop?
BERNARD: I feel like Hip Hop is more than just music. It’s more than just a talent. It's an aspiring art form performed by many. Not just by black or white people. It’s an expression of yourself from whatever culture you represent.
JOHN: Honestly, Hip Hop is not something I feel, it’s something that I live for. Hip Hop is everywhere, and to me it’s a part of my culture, so I need to embrace it. Whether it's singing, rapping, or dancing, there is not a day where one of those three elements are not introduced to us. I like to dance for fun so I try to keep up with some of the latest dance crazes.
How can Hip Hop change the community?
BERNARD: Hip Hop can change the community in many ways. Since it’s a genre of music a lot of the teens in the community listen to, they will relate to the positive message we bring. Our music can change the community with its positive energy. Songs we wrote like “Forgive And Forget” and “Inner Power” are extremely positive tracks that the youth can relate to. I feel strongly that this community can change by them hearing us on an album that is essentially about their lives. The people within our city live what we write. Since they can relate, they may just change for the better. “Inner Power” starts by me talking about my life: "Was just a young kid at eleven / life wasn't too much like heaven / until I spilled real ill type hard life emotions." Teens go through hard times just as much as anybody else in Philadelphia. So if we can get a few kids or anybody to listen we can get many to listen. As long as we relate to our audience they'll listen and acknowledge us by changing their attitude. They'll see that the youth have a voice and it's honest, conscious, and positive.
JOHN: Hip Hop is a big influence on the world. A majority of our population live their lives based on what they see on the television. For example, take a look at the whole dress code of famous people. We see that and we want to be in-style so we dress like them. If the “Music Industry” showed the world more positivity, there's a huge possibility we can see change in our communities.
Why would someone want to participate in Inner Power Records?
BERNARD: Because we are teens trying to make a difference in our community.
JOHN: If you enjoy singing/rapping, great music and people, and healing the community through music then Inner-Power Records is the record label you’d want to sign with.