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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — When rapper David Banner was recording the music that launched a major label career, it came from a makeshift studio inside of a van in which he was also sleeping.
Now, he's making sure the younger generation will have access to the technology that wasn't available to him when he started his career.
The Clarion-Ledger reports (http://on.thec-l.com/1QF5H2S ) that through collaboration with his foundation, Banner is donating a recording studio to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi. It was announced last week as part of the ninth annual "Heal the Hood at Christmas" project in Jackson. It is the first of six studios that will be developed in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club chapter.
Overlooking the same basketball courts Banner used to visit to escape gang violence, the studio will allow kids to gain experience in many facets of the music industry, from songwriting, producing and performing to recording.
"I come back because I love the way I feel when I come in here," said Banner, whose real name is Lavell Crump. "Now you see that I can give back, hopefully one of y'all can get popping from this studio and come back and give some more money."
Boys & Girls Club President and CEO Penney Ainsworth said the studio also would be an important way to promote education and creativity.
"They're going to learn to write, make beats and marry the two before going into the sound booth," Ainsworth said. "We're going to teach them computer skills and show how that affects everyday life. Hopefully we'll get some David Banners out of here, some producers and songwriters out of here."
The studio space is in a converted office and features a state-of-the art computer with music editing software Pro Tools, and a soundproof recording booth. Jackson producer Leroy Jones, who runs Sonic Signature studios, renovated the space in just over a week.
"When I was in my teens, I didn't have a chance to have access to something like this," said Jones, who works with local rappers including Dolla Black and Savvy, but has also produced for artists Mannie Fresh, Lil Boosie, Scarface and more. "They can come in here and learn and develop a passion for it like I did, and become a millionaire after that."
Banner's appearance at the Boys & Girls Club included a gift-giveaway for 350 youth and their families. Banner mingled with the children, taking selfies and explaining that he had once been in their shoes.
Banner, who was student body president at Southern University and attended graduate school at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore on a full scholarship, talked about the importance of education.
"If you don't know any words, what are you rapping about?" said Banner, whose "God Box" album is scheduled for release next year.
Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com