The students at Strawberry Mansion High School in Philadelphia are excited to finally hear music come from their brand new studio on campus. Drake recently donated $75,000 to Meek Mill’s alma mater, which serves the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods in the city. The Grammy Award-winning rapper has been working on this project over the past two years. He first found out about the school’s troubles after ABC News ran a report about the principal, Linda Cliatt-Wayman, and her goal to improve the campus.
In 2013, Drake stopped in Philly during his “Would You Like A Tour?” run and invited members from the school’s community to meet with him privately before he hit the stage. That’s when he revealed his plan to complete the studio that the students have been waiting for.
“This is about you. This is about your principal. This is about your future,” Drake said. “I love you. I care about you. I want to see you succeed.”
Drake’s generous donation paid for new keyboards, acoustical accessories and more equipment. He also made sure that the space was completely renovated with a fresh paint job for the outdated sound booths at Strawberry Mansion. According to Wayman, the studio was completed by Drake’s team this past summer. However, the new equipment went untouched during the Fall semester since the administration had trouble finding a capable instructor to run the studio. That is until they found part-time music teacher Ben Diamond, who arrived on-campus early February.
“Many of them [the students] don’t have very many other reasons to be excited about coming to school,” Diamond told The Huffington Post. “To be able to give them an outlet for things they want to express is very special.”
The equipment isn’t fancy nor expensive, and that was their intent. It’s sole purpose is to provide students with instruments that are necessary to explore their passion for music. After Diamond began teaching classes at the new studio, interest from the student body was surprisingly grim to say the least. Then one day, Principal Wayman took to the school’s intercom system and played new music that the participating students in Diamond’s class had made in the studio. That’s when the students population woke up and realized that the rumored studio was finally up and running. Afterwards, nearly 50 students had signed up.
Junior Josiah Showell, who specializes in production, teamed up with freshman Zalmir Deputy on keyboards and senior rapper Jerrick Fripps to record the first track made on-campus. The song was made within days of first entering the studio. Showell and Deputy both praised the CEO of OVO Sounds for his donation.
“I really appreciate it … because this is what we needed,” Deputy said.