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Keeping in the spirit of the holiday season, D.C.’s boutique, independent record label, Major Life Music, has announced its first ever Holiday Giveback. Over the course of December, the label, which focuses on rising rap and hip-hop artists from the region, will offer financial assistance to three families on the verge of eviction, three single mothers struggling to pay utility bills, as well as additional support to others in need, including children with incarcerated parents, senior homes, and military families.
“We know it’s very hard on families. It’s been hard on families, even before COVID-19,” Major Life Music’s publicist, Andrea Hamilton, tells City Paper. “We definitely know this time of year can be depressing or financially rough on a lot of families. So we just wanted to, from small offerings to more larger-scale offerings, find ways to really give back to the DMV community.”
Though the record label has done previous one-off charitable events and donations before—they recently supported the student protestors at Howard University—this is the first time Major Life Music will offer assistance on this scale. Hamilton calls the giveback Major Life Music’s “version of a 12 days to Christmas.” But because the owners, Abubakarr and Mohammed Tejan-Jalloh, practice Islam, they opted to take the focus off Christmas and instead offer multiple givebacks throughout all of December.
“Speaking with the owners, they really just wanted to do something to impact the community within their means and resources,” Hamilton says. Together they decided to tap into a variety of different social or economic issues facing the community. As Hamilton notes, “a lot of people may not think about children whose parents are incarcerated, and that’s a huge group of youth across the nation—and in D.C.”
Now through Dec. 10, local residents are invited to share their story—or the story of someone they’d like to nominate for rental assistance. Likewise, single mothers in need of utility bills assistance (or those nominating someone) are asked to submit their stories by Dec. 13. The label asks that requests for support include an overview on their current need, family size, and any additional information regarding their current struggles. Once all the stories have been carefully reviewed, families will be selected based on the urgency of their need, family size, and the company’s ability to help. Three families will be picked to receive up to $1,500 in rent support; another three will receive up to $250 for utilities.
Abubakarr and Mohammed founded Major Life Music in 2016. Though the two are originally from the U.K., they’ve called the D.C. area home for several decades; Hamilton says they consider it their community. It’s also why the label is committed to supporting DMV residents year-round. Earlier this year, Major Life Music partnered with Pink Star Cafe to provide clothing, food, and drinks to the student protestors at Howard University, which Hamilton described as a place they saw an urgent need for additional assistance.
In that vein, families who are not selected for the Holiday Giveback will be kept on file at the company for review next time Major Life Music wants to do a giveaway or giveback. “People binge giveaway during Christmastime,” says Hamilton. “And then the rest of the year, it’s like, OK, people who couldn’t afford rent in December probably can’t afford it in January or February.”
The record label hopes to not only become a community pillar for the music it puts out, but also for its participation in and support of the people and artists who call the area home. “If we want to become a staple independent label from the DMV, it’s very imperative to be a part of rebuilding the community and by doing that you have to constantly be in the know of what is going on within your community,” says Hamilton, adding, “And [knowing] what ways we can give back and pour into it—outside of delivering music.”
Anyone from the DMV can request, or nominate a local for, support. Stories must be submitted via email to email@example.com by Dec. 10 for rental assistance, and Dec. 13 for single mothers seeking utility assistance.