Columbus, OH–The Paragon Project, a revolving collective of nationally-recognized high school artists, is releasing its fourth album, along with an illustrated lyric video and discussion guide and remix project, on July 10, 2020.
The Paragon Project Vol. 4: Add-A-Lesson uses music to tell a coming of age story of a young adult tackling social issues. The project features original hip hop, R&B and afrobeat music written, produced and arranged by students from Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center, an art-centered public high school in Columbus, Ohio.
The program, led by Assistant Principal Dr. Tony Anderson, rethinks the model and approach to traditional public education by combining both creative technical skills and social entrepreneurship.
“Because I have a background in the music business, I know the power of building a community of artists and that’s what I wanted to create with this program,” Anderson says. “Each year, the projects have grown in sophistication and serves as a true testament to what young adults can create when given the proper creative resources and platform for expression.”
Students who participate in the project leverage music as therapy and an outlet for their mental and emotional wellness. The wellness infused in the music benefits both the creators and the listeners.
The album features nerdcore rapper Mega Ran and Truck North of the Grammy-award winning band The Roots. Students were mentored by industry professionals, including Giscard Xavier, Dice Raw and Philadelphia Freeway, throughout the creative process of the project.
“As a former educator, I was honored to be a part of a music project that encourages students’ creativity on an incredibly deep conceptual level. This is so important to youth and the music industry because it promotes working within a team construct to create something that can live forever in a digital medium,” says nerdcore rapper Mega Ran, who is featured on the project.
“Having the relationship I have with The Roots, I feel these kids truly represent the spirit of live hip hop instrumentation. These young people are super talented and are the next generation of Black composers, which is extremely important to our culture overall,” says hip hop artist Truck North. “Given what's happened this year with COVID-19 and millions of kids being out of school, this project serves as a great representation of the ups and downs that occur in a typical school year. It also gives tremendous insight into the voices of teens who are just trying to figure things out, and we've all been there before.”
Accompanying the album release across all streaming platforms is a free discussion guide with song lyrics and think pieces from scholars and education practitioners to guide dialogue with students, educators and parents about the music. Illustrator Kwadwo Bediako of Ray Styles Studio, known for his vivid, socially-conscious artwork, created an album-length illustrated lyric video for the album.
Previously, the Paragon Project received national attention from Huffington Post, NPR and Shaderoom Teens. The collective of students, who also perform as a live band, have shared the stage with artists Dice Raw and Philadelphia Freeway on previous national tours.
Listen to the full album on Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal, Amazon Music, Google Play, Pandora on July 10.