The Beat Making lab started as a class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But its creators, Stephen Levitin – aka, Apple Juice Kid – and Pierce Freelon, quickly took it to a new level.
They packed up their lab and toured Central America, the South Pacific and Africa, teaching youth the essentials of beat making. Their most recent adventure was in Ethiopia, where they partnered with Chapel Hill non-profit IntraHealth.
They set up the initial lab in June and began working on music with a group of youths. Levitin and Freelon came back to the U.S. after that first lab, but only for a time.
"When we went back, just a few weeks ago, we heard the progress they were making," Levitin said.
Freelon and Levitin liked what they heard. They described on The State of Things today the process that makes the beat making lab work.
"There are two songs that are made in a beat making lab. One where I do the majority of the work while they observe," Levitin said. "Then there is a second song called Des Yelal, and that one is done entirely by the students."
Freelon said that the work the students do in these labs and on songs like Des Yelal is top-notch and doesn't sound amateur at all.
"I'm still bouncing. That is one of my favorite songs," Freelon said.
WUNC is partnering with the Beat Making Lab and The Town of Chapel Hilll on a youth oriented project this spring as part of WUNC's American Graduate Project.