Jail Time Records is a non-profit music label that was born as the result of a music project started in 2018 in Cameroon inside the Central Prison of Douala.

After succeeding in creating what is the first permanent recording studio inside an African prison Jail Time Records has become a collective of musicians, music producers and film makers from inside and outside the prison that produce the music of detainees and ex-detainees from Cameroon’s toughest prison.

It has the scope of scouting and promoting talent while helping social reintegration and changing society’s perception of imprisonment. It is seen as the means to give a voice to a part of society that is highly unrepresented. For these artists undergoing the hellish reality of Cameroon’s jail, music has become the reason to continue fighting and believing in a second chance in life.

The aim of the project is to expand our mission to other prisons both in Africa and internationally bringing a fresh and original contribution to music.

How it started

Between 2017 and 2018 artist and video-maker Dione Roach volunteered in Cameroon with the Italian NGO COE (Centro Orientamento Educativo) giving painting workshops inside the Central prison of Douala. She also organised dance and music events and through these she came across a number of extremely talented incarcerated musicians and rappers.

In july 2018 she started a music project to produce an album of the rap collective La meute des penseurs and she succeeded in getting COE to finance the building of a recording studio inside the prison as part of their activities that support the social reintegration of inmates.

The artists were highly motivated and met every day to rehears in the death sentence quarter during intense sessions of freestyle and songwriting. The recording studio became operational in October 2018 and the first few songs of the collective were recorded by a volunteer sound-engineer.

In November 2018 music producer and artist Vidou H became the co-founder of the project and was the first incarcerated producer to be in charge of the studio. More than ten music videos have been authorised and shot inside the prison, the first one of which was released in January 2019. After Vidou H’s release the studio has been under the responsibility of the incarcerated artist Stone Larabik. Hundreds of artists have passed in the studio and almost 500 songs have been recorded spanning all genres of music: hip-hop, R&B, afro-sound, traditional, gospel.

The project has now evolved to become a multimedia record label that offers a platform and a voice to those artist currently undergoing incarceration or that have previously undergone it.

In December 2021 a new Jail Time Records recording studio was built outside the prison. The new studio is critical for the reintegration of ex-convicted artists into the community. The goal is that rappers, producers, former prison artists and label affiliates can continue to cultivate their musical talent once they leave and, above all, keep away from what brought them to jail.

In July 2023 Jail Time Records opened a new recording studio facility inside the MACO (Maison d’Arrêt et de Correction de Ouagadougou) Ouagadougou’s prison in Burkina Faso.

The project is currently run by Vidou H and Dione Roach.