The Academy of Healing for Teens (AHA!) has a new program that is giving 18 Isla Vista teenagers the tools to produce their own rap CD. They’ll learn the essential skills for creating a professional album, including how to write, produce, engineer, and market their work. Instructors Jes°s Catal¡n and Nino Gentry meet with the group every Tuesday from 6:30-8:00 p.m. over the course of a ten week period at the Isla Vista Teen Center, where they lead exercises that help build character and instill emotional intelligence in the teens before moving on to the technical aspects of musical production. The program stresses the importance of widening teens’ perspectives through rap music. The program focuses on expanding the participants’ focus beyond rapping solely about their gang experiences, instead urging students to create beats that resonate to anyone on a universal level.
Catal¡n is a lead facilitator and translator for AHA!, and has been a musician for 19 years, playing drums for bands Popshot, Aiga, and EC Duz It. Currently working on his Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology at the Antioch University, Santa Barbara, Catal¡n has 15 years of experience working with local youth.
In high school, Nino Gentry formed a group called Ruthless Underground that opened for various ’90s rap acts like Above the Law, King Tee, and Breeze. After graduating from UCSB, Gentry reinvested himself in the music industry. He has worked with the WYND & Grind Entertainment record label, developing local music contacts and participating in numerous performances. He was also featured on the Wayans Brothers‘ cartoon soundtrack, Thug-A-Boo, and penned Spanish raps for other artists.
In a recent meeting, the two talked about the history of rap and practiced improvised rapping. During the meeting, Catal¡n and Gentry expressed that they were pleased that the teens had a safe outlet to release the frustrations they had been harboring. For more information, call the Family Therapy Institute at 569-2272, ext. 108