Inmate Releases Rap Song from Death Row After Over 28 Years Behind Bars

An inmate on death row in North Carolina recorded and released a rap song from inside the prison. The song, "Live on Death Row," was recorded through the prison phone with the help of some industry professionals.

The rapper, Michael Braxton, has been in prison now for over 28 years after he was given a life sentence for robbery and murder. In 1996, Braxton was moved to the North Carolina Central Prison after he stabbed a fellow inmate to death, according to court documents.

After years of prison time, Braxton realized his passion for music was something that he should strive toward. "I feel like I got the point where I lost my mind," Braxton told CBS17. "It was through the process of being able to write my lyrics, it became therapeutic for me."

Braxton told CBS17 that the only way he was able to record from the prison was through the phone, which typically does not have good sound quality. But then he met someone who could help him realistically create and distribute his music.

Michael A. Betts, II, a Sound & Experience Designer at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, met Braxton while he was working on a project. He told CBS17 that six months later Braxton called and asked him if he could help him record some music. But they still had to figure out how to get around the phone situation.

"We talk about music clarity all the time. We spend money for high fidelity equipment regularly and we knew we weren't going to overcome the sound the compression that the phone has," Betts told CBS17.

So Betts contacted his industry friend, Mark Katz, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and founding Director of Next Level. Katz took to social media to ask his industry friends if it was possible to make a releasable recording from a phone. But he said after a year of brainstorming, there weren't many solutions.

So instead, the men decided to take advantage of the phone recordings and turn it into Braxton's signature style.

"That's actually a portion of his brand. He's coming through the phone from behind the wall," Katz told CBS17. "A lot of people say, this doesn't sound like it was recorded over a phone."

Braxton hopes his lyrics in the newly released rap will resonate with some. "With my music, I wanted to say something that's important," he told CBS17. He said he holds himself accountable for his past mistakes, but that he wants to somehow help the victims of the wrongly accused through his music.

Braxton said he plans on donating the profits from the single to family members and victims of crime.

Prison Inmate Releases Rap Song
An inmate on death row in North Carolina released a rap song under his stage name "Rrome Alone" with the help of multiple industry experts. He said the profits from the single will go to families and victims of crime. Darrin Klimek/Getty Images

Last year, Newsweek reported about a man who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for second-degree murder. The man, David Jassy, was heavily involved in the hip-hop scene in Sweden.

Jassy was released from prison in March 2020 after serving 11 years. He spent the end of his sentence at San Quentin State Prison where he set up the San Quentin Music Program. He also produced a mixtape with the help of over 50 incarcerated men.

"One thing that was important to me was not only record these mixtapes, but invite people from the music industry to talk to the inmates," Jassy said. "So that when these guys eventually parole, they have this connection to the industry."