Members of Feel Good Music Coalition know that content makes a difference

Published: Thursday, Aug. 23 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

"The message I try to carry — and I don't hide it from people ­— is people that come from a crazy past or addiction can grow and change out of that and turn their lives over to something more powerful than themselves," Curran said. "The problem is, the music (hip-hop) I really liked at a young age, I always claimed it didn't have an effect on me at the time — oh, this rap, these words, were talking about things I hadn't done yet like drugs and drinking. I didn't realize how much of an impact it was having on me until when I was a junior in high school. I remember trying specific drugs for the first time because rappers mentioned them in their songs."

Like most of the artists affiliated with Feel Good Music, Curran is very careful to keep the messages in his songs positive. It was he and his brother who actually came up with the idea and lyrics for "Teach Me How to Jimmer."

Steven "Santo" Guzman, born and raised in Salt Lake City and the youngest artist with the music label, has also made it his goal to write positive rap music. He likes hip-hop and Spanish music, the latter a legacy from his parents, who immigrated from Jalisco, Mexico. He came out with his first album in June 2012, a project two years in the making.

"Good music is not just hip-hop, not just rap music, not just whatever I like. It can be any genre, but to me, it has to have a conscious, aware, positive message or good intention behind the music," Guzman said. "I started making music and putting myself out there young, like 15. (My goal was) just to stand out and make people think, 'Oh, this kid isn't rapping about what the stereotype of rap is.’”

For Lawrence, the man behind Feel Good Music Coalition, the label is all about "real, heartfelt music (that) connects with people." His commitment to his religious beliefs — Lawrence is a practicing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — also plays a part in why he feels so strongly about the label's mission.

"I feel personally responsible for the world we leave to this rising generation. ... I firmly believe that audio/visual stimuli free from vulgarity and sexual content has the potential to encourage positive behavior," Lawrence wrote in an email. "As an artist, I believe when music comes from a real place, the connection you make with the people is much more lasting and beneficial.'"

Lawrence was born in Liberia but grew up in Pennsylvania. His parents were introduced to the LDS Church in Rome after moving there to escape the aftermath of a government coup in 1980. They moved to Philadelphia when Lawrence was 4 years old. He served an LDS mission in Texas, where he met Chase Beecher and Arthur Hatton, a comedian and a writer, respectively, who later got involved in Feel Good Music.

Hatton, who created Linescratchers.com after his mission to highlight LDS artists who didn't necessarily make LDS music, commented on how technology has allowed Feel Good Music to compete with big music labels without having to conform its values to fit an image.

"In an age where the big labels are starting to come down, the music scene is really fragmented. … There are so many different, small voices that it's really hard to say what values the media promotes," Hatton said. "Now nobody's trying to get on big labels; you can do your own thing."

Lawrence summed up his favorite part of Feel Good Music Coalition and why it's important to him.

"It's been awesome to watch it grow," he said. "I love the people around me in Feel Good Music. We have a tight-knit group. … I definitely think artists should hold themselves accountable for what's in their music."

Email: jhenrie@desnews.com

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