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'Beat Making Lab' series brings music tech, know-how to aspiring talent in developing communities

Is the next Mos Def or Azealia Banks languishing in a region where there's no way to get his or her talent across? The producer who's laid down beats for those stars, 'Apple Juice Kid' (aka Stephen Levitin) along with fellow UNC prof Pierce Freelon aim to find out with a new PBS series called Beat Making Lab. In it, the pair take their talent, teaching skills and crates of audio gear to underserved communities in nations like Panama, Senegal and Fiji. The first episode (below the break) takes place in the Congo, where they're shown setting up a permanent recording studio at the Yole!Africa non-profit community center, then giving a crash course in beat-making tech to six highly motivated students. The Congalese artists use that know-how to lay down tracks that reflect their unique personalities and culture, which are showcased at the culmination of the episode. The series covets more than just a nice performance, though, as one student put it: "When the instructors return to the US, it won't be the end, but a beginning for us -- because we'll be able to teach others how to create their own beats."