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Local artists use music to give youth a voice

Chais Hill knows there is power in music.
Now he and his group at MaxOutMusic want to give that power to area youth living amid the violence.
“What can we do to stop it?” the local artist asked. “What I can do is plant a seed. I can lead by example.”
Through Chais Dreams LLC and MaxOut, he and partner, Anthony Archetto, want to give a vision to the voice of the youth.

They along with collaborators Jaisun Toro and Ricky Montalvo recently went to all different neighborhoods throughout Atlantic County to capture videos of the music there.
When they returned to one neighborhood, there were about 30 kids outside dancing and watching their video online. It was the sense of pride and accomplishment and being heard that allowed a diversion from the violence and death going on around them.
“A lot of these kids have hidden talents,” Montalvo said. “God gifted every one of us with something.”
For instance, the Egg Harbor City single father of two is a carpenter. His pride comes from that work.
Videos over the years show the deterioration as those who once shared camera time separate into the feuding factions.
Hill has lost friends to the streets. Older brother Destin Hill was killed Aug. 18, 2002, in the parking lot of Wash’s Inn in Pleasantville. The man convicted of that crime was freed in December of 2014, and Hill has seen him. He is back in prison after a drug-trafficking bust last year.
Instead of making that a reason to turn to violence, Hill took his brother’s death and made it his mission to become a success.
“He was 29 when he was murdered. He didn’t get to realize his potential,” Hill said. “I’m living proof of what I’m trying to preach. I’m not just talking it.”
The group wants to take these kids off the street for a while and put them in a studio or on the path to accomplish their own goals.
“It’s so vital that the community get together,” Montalvo said. “People that do violent crimes are acting out on something inside them. They’re projecting that hate or that anger or whatever they went through.”
Hill said he wants to tell all of their stories.
“Instead of shooting a person, they think of shooting a video for a song,” he said.
He wants to be an inspiration. He remembers those who inspired him. Among them was Atlantic City’s Mike Nitty, who now is pursuing his dream in Los Angeles.
Hill was 13 when he took the stage for the first time in Wildwood. He remembers keeping his eyes closed almost the whole time because he was so nervous. Then, Nitty performed: eyes opened, confident. It was something that stuck with him.
“He didn’t care what other people thought of his music because he believed in it.”
Toro has lived all different places, including three months in Germany. But he’s seen something in those from this area that is not common anywhere else.
“We have a hustle in Jersey like nowhere else,” he said.
The group is hoping to use that to reach to the youth.
“All of them are products of their environment and fall victim to crime and drugs,” Hill said. “I want to provide light on the situation to give them another option.”
Those looking to join the movement can inbox Hill on Facebook or Instagram, or go to the group’s YouTube channel.

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