Photo by Bethany Pritchard
(From left) Ashlyn Green, 14, Germayia Wallace, 12, and Jayla Fox-Wallace, 14, are 4Ever Young, a rap group that focuses on positive messages for young people.
Much of today's popular music fills the radio waves with negative messages, but a group of Greater Alton teens is striving to change that, one song at a time.
Ashlyn Green, Jayla Fox-Wallace and Germayia Wallace make up the rap group 4Ever Young and focus on creating fun, positive and inspirational rap songs more appropriate for people their age.
The group was created by Christin Brown, the group’s acting manager, when she wanted to write a positive song for her nieces Wallace and Fox-Wallace because she was tired of hearing negativity when she tuned into the radio. She said women in particular fall victim to negativity in songs and with the girls going to high school soon, she doesn’t want them to succumb to negative peer pressure. This need for positivity made the creation of the group more serious, and that’s when Green joined the group.
The girls were completely on board for the message the group was trying to spread as they felt the negativity of messages on the radio first-hand.
“The music is violent,” Wallace said.
“It’s all negative,” Fox-Wallace said. “It gives teenagers a different outlook on how life should be. They think they should be doing things adults should do.”
“It’s not something you want your kids to listen to,” Green said. “If I had children in this generation, I would not want them to listen to the music that’s on the radio.”
Green said artists should not only think about the adults when writing a song, but also about the kids who are going to hear that song.
One of the girls’ songs, “Too Turnt Up,” takes a more negative adult phrase and makes it positive for a younger crowd. Each member talks about how she “turns up.” Wallace says she turns up by dancing. Fox-Wallace says her verses tell how she doesn’t need to “put on makeup when she wakes up” or how she likes going to the mall with friends and playing basketball. Green’s verses revolve around getting good grades.
“When I get good grades that makes me feel happy,” Green said. “You don’t have to go out and party just to have fun. There’s other ways of ‘turning up.’”
The group’s main goal is to inspire positivity among other girls their age.
“Our songs give girls a different mindset. They make them feel worth more,” Fox-Wallace said. “Our stuff is more inspiring than others we hear now.”
Green said their songs help girls feel more confident so they are not constantly competing with one another. Their songs encourage girls to be different so they don’t feel like they need to act a certain way to fit in.
But the girls don’t only rap and sing about a more positive lifestyle — they live it. Each girl is involved in multiple school sports and occupies a place on the honor roll. Both Green and Fox-Wallace were named student of the month within the first two months of the school year. The girls are involved in church youth activities and participate in community service projects.
“I am very proud of them,” said Candice Wallace, the group’s publicist and mother to Fox-Wallace and Wallace. “They’re very positive role models for their peers … having good grades, making good choices, staying out of drama. They really do live their lyrics, which is so rewarding for me as a parent.”