A woman incarcerated at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla is the first female to record and release an original hip hop track from inside a prison.
Carmela Tautinoga Mose, a.k.a. GOOD, won Securus Technologies’ first ever “Original Hip-Hop Track Contest” with her original song “I Think,” Newsy reported in September.
Grammy award-winning Rapper Lecrae chose Carmela as the winner out of hundreds who participated across the country. Lecrae then visited the prison to record the song inside.
“Recording this track with Carmela onsite at a maximum security prison facility, which houses many other inspiring women, was an absolutely life-changing experience for me,” Lecrae said. “I’m proud to be part of a campaign that invests in those who often feel forgotten, and hopefully this contest will open doors for other creative campaigns to reach the incredible talent behind bars.”
Lecrae visited the prison in July and recorded the song under Carmela’s artist name “GOOD.” The song was then mastered by Lecrae’s label Reach Records. It’s been released on streaming platforms, with the proceeds going to help incarcerated people.
“Being given the opportunity to be supported, and listened to, by so many talented visionaries has been a truly humbling experience,” Carmela said. “As I sat there recording my track, I felt a stark contrast between the me who was rapping into that mic, and the old me that was sitting on a bus on the way to prison.”
Carmela has been incarcerated for more than 20 years. She is originally from Long Beach California, according to Newsy.
Carmela grew up in a broken home where she faced violence and abuse. She left that abusive environment at a young age, but became homeless. Carmela suffered from mental health issues, and battled addiction to methamphetamines. Her hardships led her into a life of crime.
“The reality is that there are people behind those walls who are family members of folks like you and me. At the end of the day they are still human beings and they have a voice and often times their voice is not heard,” Lecrae told Newsy.
In her song, Carmela highlights the drug and mental health crisis affecting young people of color with lyrics such as “we all California dreaming in a state of mental illness” and “stress fractures apparent in the chronic gazes of our children.” Carmela also talks about how communities of color are decimated by war, prisons, and crack cocaine.
“She’s talking about things in her lyrics, you know, from the submissions we saw, she was talking about such profound things and ingenious things in a creative way that I was like ‘wow how in the world has this voice not been heard,’” said Lecrae. “To get the opportunity to give her a voice to speak to the world is actually a gift to me.”
The Prison Fellowship Program helped organize Lecrae’s visit to the women’s facility, and proceeds from the song will benefit the organization. The fellowship program has been around since 1976. For more than 40 years the program has been “working to bring hope and restoration to the incarcerated, their families, and communities impacted by crime and incarceration,” according to the article.
Carmela said she is now focused on rehabilitation at the corrections facility.
“Thank you so very much to all the folks at Securus, Reach Records, and Lecrae for lifting me up and getting me started on my amends,” said Carmela, reported CBN News.