Rap and Redemption on Death Row
Seeking Justice and Finding Purpose behind Bars
by Alim Braxton and Mark Katz
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Pub Date 02 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 12 Mar 2024
Imprisoned since age nineteen, Alim Braxton has spent more than a quarter century on North Carolina’s death row. During that time, he converted to Islam and dedicated his life to redemption. Braxton, a rapper since the age of thirteen, uses his rhymes as a form of therapy and to advocate for prison reform, particularly by calling attention to the plight of the wrongfully incarcerated. This book, a hip-hop-rich prison memoir, chronicles Braxton’s struggles and triumphs as he attempts to record an album while on death row, something no one has done before.
Braxton’s world is complex: full of reflections on guilt, condemnation, incarceration, religious awakening, and the redemptive power of art. Ultimately, Braxton shows us that even amid the brutality of our prison system there are moments of joy, and on death row joy may be the most powerful form of resistance.
Alim Braxton (a.k.a. RRome Alone) is a writer, rapper, and activist living on North Carolina’s death row in Raleigh. Mark Katz is the John P. Barker Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of several books, including Build: The Power of Hip Hop Diplomacy in a Divided World.
“Alim Braxton’s story is a harrowing one—far too common, yet rarely heard from the vantage of the person living it. This book lets readers hear the words directly, in his voice, and humanizes the men on death row with whom he is serving time. Braxton’s book draws us into his worlds and takes us through his transformations. Like The Autobiography of Malcolm X, it reads like a testament to a life of reinvention.”—A. D. Carson, University of Virginia