Read these lyrics about regret from incarcerated youth | KUOW News and Information

Read these lyrics about regret from incarcerated youth

Feb 1, 2018

Two young men created this song at the Echo Glen Children's Center, a maximum security facility in Snoqualmie, in a series of workshops with RadioActive Youth Media. This was RadioActive's first workshop at Echo Glen.


(L)

At the age of 10, I thought I was alone. 
I had a house that I couldn't call home. 
I had three siblings, I had to take care of my own. 
It wasn't mom's fault, she did everything she could.
Dad was straight failure. I wish I understood.

Don't get me wrong, I had love for my father
but I wasn't going to let my mom get hurt no further.

Little after that, my dad was sent to prison.
I had to keep going, but man, I still missed him. 
It all started when my dad got locked up. 
Sometime after that, I became the plug, 
'cause I would do anything to pay my mom's bills,
even if it meant working on the fields. 

At the end of sixth grade, I was kicked out. 
That's when I started failing, it wasn't no doubt.
Trying to be a man was my first mistake. 
I got a beating from my uncle even you couldn't take. 
Maybe I didn't listen 'cause when I was 13 I became affiliated. 
I had the mental mind and I had the behavior.

That's when I met my barrio, that's when I met my homies. 
I be talking 'bout real vatos, not some fake phonies. 
I started putting work. I started getting cash. 
I started getting girls. I started living fast. 
That's when I failed my family #SecondMistake
but I was already deep, getting out was too late.

Two incarcerated teenagers worked on this piece in a 3-day workshop with RadioActive Youth Media.
Credit KUOW PHOTO/Lila Kitaeff

(D)

Mama told me yeah, I need to change the way I'm living. 
But mama, you don't see what I see in my vision. 
I got this bad love thing by my side, 
but I'm wondering if she finna hold it down for all this time. 
Is she really down to ride all this time? 
In my cell got me contemplating: is she really the one? 
Always did just for fun real stuff. 
Mama prayed for me to have better days. 
I took her for granted.

Now I'm in this cage day after day doing the same thing.
This has been going on forever.
Ain't nothing changed. 
Mama, I should've just listened to you when I had the chance
but I loved the lifestyle.
I was living fast
but when I got cracked it's like everything just crashed.
I see my friends from foes, 
it's like when I got locked up I lost control. 
But now I'm thinking that I'm in cruise control. 
So check it, if you doubt me, I'ma push harder. 
That's the last thing I heard from my father. 

My lifestyle's crazy. 
I'ma keep going day in and day out wondering what's the way out. 
In reality, you got to do good and that's the way out. 
The situation got me thinking about my life. 
All this 'cause I decided to commit a crime. 
Mama, I'm sorry for all those tears I had you shedding. 
My life might not be tied with a bow
but it's still a blessing. 
I'm sorry for all those times I had you stressing
because I wasn't home. 
Now don't get me wrong, I want to go home
but the choices I made stopped me
so don't go and double cross me.
I'm gone.

A young man raps in the library of the Echo Glen Children's Center.
Credit KUOW PHOTO/Lila Kitaeff

(L)

Don't worry, mom, you always in my head. 
I'ma stop being stupid and do good instead. 
I know I'm locked up but the bad is going to pass. 
Good times to come with a smile on your face
that for sure is going to last. 

I'm sorry, mom, for all I put you through.
I just did what I thought I had to do. 
A  year passed now I'm known in the game. 
I was putting in work, I earned myself a name. 
It's Smiley. It's who I became.
But now I repent for what I've done in my life. 
I was just a little kid trying to stay alive. 
My third mistake is when I caught four years. 
I apologize, mama, for the pain and the tears.

I'm gone.

One of the artists wrote about what he hopes listeners get out of this song.
Credit KUOW PHOTO/Lila Kitaeff

Production assistance from Amy Piñon. Music: "Tune In" by Joseph Jacobs. Background music produced by participants in Echo Glen's Beatzlab program. The RadioActive theme song is by Patrick Liu and Abay Estifanos.