Homeboy Industries Music Releases 'The Big Lay-Off'

Last year was a tumultuous ride for the heralded LA-based institution known as Homeboy Industries. Despite its reputable work over two decades in transforming the lives of gang members through employment and other programs, its money coffers have dried up. The organization, founded by Boyle Heights-based Jesuit priest Father Gregory Boyle, faced a $5 million shortfall and made a difficult decision in May 2010 to lay off more than 300 employees.


“Father G,” as he is known to the homeboys/homegirls, went on tour with his book Tattoos On the Heart to spread the word about Homeboy Industries' financial woes, even landing an appearance recently on Dr. Phil's television program. The heightened public awareness through the media campaign finally translated into a measure of relief late last year, as grants from LA County, Chevron and other supporters helped recover a little more than half of the jobs lost.

Fittingly, Homeboy Industries' music program is starting off 2011 with full-length album titled The Big Lay-Off, officially released today at Homegirl Cafe in Los Angeles. If the slogan of Homeboy Industries is “nothing stops a bullet like a job,” then a possible way to summarize its music program is “nothing clears the mind like a rhyme.”

As part of Homeboy Industries Music, Quentin Moore (a.k.a. QMM) was tasked by Father G himself last year with putting together the project. “It expresses the difficulties and triumphs that we go through daily in a universal way,” he says of the new album's virtues. “Not only were we hit hard, but counties and businesses, too.” Still, he remains positive. “We just stand stronger,” he adds.

For Moore, The Big Lay-Off is reflective of his personal experience with the organization. “Homeboy Industries has created a positive way for me and others to express what we are going through in a way of understanding that life will not always be easy, but with faith, we can make it,” he says. The rapper's attitude is reflective of many of the tracks off the new album, such as “Go Getter,” “Better Days” and “We Gonna Make It.”

The website notes that through the music program, “at-risk youth receive musical training and education about music production, marketing, law and distribution” and that “homeboys and homegirls collaborate during group recording sessions and receive on-site mentoring in music production and both on-the-street and online marketing.” A music video for the single “Homeboys Until the End” and an EP titled Just Like That precede the sophomore album's release.

People can see the evolving process as it takes form in a developing website for Homeboy Industries Music and, of course, through the new album. Though there have been rehires and grant money, the sluggish economy still looms over the future of the organization. The Big Lay-Off is part of a necessary and continued effort to help to sustain operations. “All proceeds from sales go to Homeboy Industries to keep the doors open for young adults to have a way of positive therapeutic expression,” Moore notes.

Undoubtedly, it will also help keep the microphones running and the beats dropping in the studio. “We spit change in a upgraded level of understanding,” the rapper says. “The music has the youth understand that we are only human!”

The Big Lay-Off album-release party at Homegirl Cafe,130 W. Bruno St., Los Angeles. Fri., 6-9 p.m.

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