Dream Defender and Smoke Signal


we’ve always lived through the sound

We artists, dreaming of freedom and musing on its complexities, convened and committed to explore and debate what freedom and the struggle to be free in this world looks like.What is the meter of its sound? How would it move our people? Could we shake their spirits?

What we created was a soundtrack for liberation, an outpouring of love, of manifestation, and of the heartbeat of our passions. That which is visceral, uninhibited, fearless, and radical. We set our intentions for the world with melody and song, bursting through our collective spirit. Our collective consciousness grew stronger, our voices sang out battle cries, war chants, and affirmation for our people.

The Smoke Signals Collective presents to you, The FREE Tape: a radical love letter for our movement.

the roots

"It helped when we sang 'We Shall Overcome.' Singing those words made us believe we could do it. We could overcome the hate and racism. We sang it to let everyone know: We were on our way. We would not be ignored, and we would not be stopped."

These are the words of Lynda Blackmon, a courageous 15-year-old participant in the historic march fromSelma to Montgomery in 1965

Music has long been a thread of hope that has bound us together, from the dark days of slavery to today’s landscape of enduring injustice and discrimination.

the single


the movement

We are young people fighting for the future we deserve and a future with no cages, violence, or corporate greed.

the artists

aja monet


aja monet is a surrealist blues poet, storyteller, and organizer born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Shewon the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe GrandSlam poetry award title in 2007 and aja monet follows in the long legacy and tradition of poets participating and assembling in social movements.Her first full collection of poems is titled, MyMother Was a Freedom Fighter on Haymarket Books.Her poems explore gender, race, migration, and spirituality. In 2018, she was nominated for a NAACPLiterary Award for Poetry and in 2019 was awarded the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award for Poetryfor her cultural organizing work in South Florida. aja monet cofounded a political home for artists and organizers called, Smoke Signals Studio.

Phil Agnew


Co-founded the Dream Defenders in 2012 after the murder of Trayvon Martin and has been dubbed “one of this generation’s leading voices” and recognized by both EBONY magazine and The Root as one of the 100 most influential African Americans in the nation. He is the co-founder of Miami’s Smoke Signals Studio with poet Aja Monet. He is a nationally recognized educator, strategist, trainer, speaker and cultural critic. In 2018, he transitioned from his role as co-director of the Dream Defenders. In July 2019 he joined the Bernie Sanders campaign as a National Surrogate and was later named a Senior Advisor. Agnew currently is an organizer with the Dream Defenders and Black Men Build. Agnew is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and a graduate of Florida A&M University.

Brittany King


A Poet, Playwright, Actor, and Community Organizer living in Miami, FL USA. A native of South Florida, her work lies at the intersection of ‘Artivism’ which fuses art, storytelling, and activism into work that challenges and moves communities to stand in solidarity with those agitating for a more just, freer world. She aims to shift the harmful narratives that are often painted about her communities, by exploring different ways to view and interact with one another. Through the cultivation of music, poetry, art, storytelling, and theatre, Bk is transforming her world one story at a time.

Nephateria Burke


Nephateria ‘Nephiilove’ Burke was born in Hollywood, FL in 1994. Raised by her two aunts, she later transitioned into foster care. As a teenager, her love for poetry helped her get through tough times. After finishing high school, Nephi went to college where she met friends who encouraged her to share her poetry. Her artistry slowly began to transform into music and she started performing at local open mics. She teams up with local non profits to host workshops and share her story. Nephi currently lives in South Florida with her three beautiful children where she runs her own business making and selling feminine hygiene products. She continues to make music and poetry that reflect her story from tragedy to triumph.

James Klynn


An artist, educator, and community organizer born and raised in Brooklyn New York and is now based in South Florida. Using his love of words, he weaves performances deep in storytelling and varied musical expressions. In these last few years living in Miami, he has created a training curriculum based on the principles & elements of Hip Hop, using creative writing as a form of therapy and a tool to teach the youth.

Johnathan Hulett


A multi-instrumentalist and educator from Houston Texas. He has presented Afro-Latino, Jazz, and Hip-hop workshops throughout the US and Latin America, performed with world-renowned artists such as Abraham Laboriel, Johnny Pacheco, Eric Krasno, and Shelton Berg, and has even performed at the Supreme Court. Johnathan has a passion for unveiling the inner creator in each person he interacts with and funnels that passion through education. As a Teaching Assistant at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music Johnathan was able to provide focused music mentoring to youth in South Florida communities through programs like The Frost MusicReach and Guitars Over Guns.

Calvin Early


Calvin “madeS.O.N.” Early is an internationally recognized speaker/spoken word artist with more than 13 years’ experience in youth development and community relations. The strength of his work is the ability to combine humor and real life experiences, with a presence that commands attention. He is probably most well-known for using powerful spoken word poetry as a vehicle to provoke thought, evoke change, and drive a message home to audiences of youth and those who advocate for them. IG: @calvinearlyspeaks, @thespokenwordexchange

V Baby


A Baltimore born, Miami based singer/songwriter, & model. V is an art enthusiast with a passion for words & equality. She began singing as she describes, as soon as she began to talk. But only recently has made music another passionate medium/outlet to connect to the outside world. Being featured on so many other  artists’ projects, she is setting out to release her very own body of work. Keep up by following her social media platforms as she updates her progress. “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

―Thomas Merton Instagram: @1vbaby Twitter: @officialvbaby

Marley Jane


Was born and raised Michelle Donnelly in Harlem, NY and moved to Miami a few years ago. Marley Jane has been writing songs as long as she can remember and was always involved in music programs at school. These days she models, hosts, and performs every chance she gets. Marley also works as an aspiring entrepreneur with hands in streetwear and holistic healthcare. She notes, creativity is life, and if I can make a difference with any of my creations for the better, I have fulfilled my purpose on this earth. That’s why being a part of the FREE tape is so important to me. You can find more of Marley on Instagram @marleymjane_ her artist page on facebook (Marley Jane) where you’ll find links to previous music projects on ReverbNation, SoundCloud, and YouTube.

J. Howard


Is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter who collects new fans faster than his trusty Boss Audio Loop Pedal collects a new crowd-pleasing improvisation. Promoters have summoned J. HOWARD as far north as AFROPUNK FEST Brooklyn, and partly explains how an Ohio native could ultimately be tapped to curate the popular MIAMI IN ATLANTA music showcase. He’s won over audiences with electrifying sets on many of Miami’s most notable stages: Faena, Bardot, The Stage Miami, The Stage Wynwood, Wynwood Yard, Little Haiti Cultural Complex are just a few. His current projects include The Free Tape and Perspective, his first album slated for release in the latter half of the year. J. HOWARD also lends his talents to the mentoring program Guitars over Guns, where he instructs students in drums and production.

Arsimmer McCoy


Singer, songwriter, and scribe is a 33 year old Miami native by way of Richmond Heights. McCoy’s artistic career began at the age of six when she showed a passion for theater performances. Under the tutelage of Emmy award-winning director Corky Dozier, McCoy would perform on stages all over South Florida and beyond. Singing in the youth choir at her mother’s church created a love for music and the voice. McCoy took up classical piano at the Hess Conservatory of Music and through various art centered youth programs, also learned the art of song structure and musical composition. Aside from music, Arsimmer is an avid reader and writer, and began to take her writing seriously in high school, where she attended both Miami Killian and Palmetto Sr. High.

Swamp Prophet


An artist born and raised in Miami, Florida. He tells you what he's seen, what he sees now, as well as his visions for the future. Honing his skills in poetry as a teenager, Prophet eventually incorporated those same principles in his lyricism. He tells the stories and experiences of both himself and those that can't. Beginning as a teaching artist in 2018, Prophet helps students develop not just their skills in writing, story-telling and performing. He also helps develop the art and foundation of communication and expression in people in service of them having a healthier approach towards life. His social media includes: Instagram: Swamp.Prophet Twitter: @SwampxProphet



Is a passionate poet from Dade County, Miami Florida. The Florida State Alumni is known for heartfelt performances, honest thoughts and dynamic stage presence.

Shedine Lawrence

Project Manager

A Project and Logistics Manager, Coordinator, Adjunct Professor of Interpersonal Communication at FIU and a proud immigrant from St. Catherine, Jamaica.

Believing that human connection is only made stronger through effective communication and that seeking understanding is the best route to ourselves. Along with the Dream Defenders, she's worked with Smoke Signals Studio and Say Sukii Flowers + Design in a multitude of Project and Event Management roles in and around Miami. She believes that the strengths of people of colour can only be magnified by our unification and drive to help our communities.

We are the change we seek.

Angela Leora


ButterflyNetwork - _Building a canvas for a RE:VOLUTION through art_

Angela Leora is a native of Northern California. Music is her first love.
She began her musical adventure when she was 10 yrs old... transcribing lyrics for cover bands in the late 1970s. In her early 20s she wrote and published songs with Bay Area house music producers while managing a post production studio in San Francisco, CA. Angela's love for music, enthusiasm, and dedication to the indie artist is holistic. Her experience is composed of grassroots promotion, major label hustling, radio, post production studio management, stage management, project management, artist development, booking, event production and tour management.

In 2007 she created the ButterflyNetwork through which she has collaborated with several independent artists and assisted in the production of multiple musical projects.


Director of Photography

Appeljax was born in St. Louis, MO the younger of two boys during the early 80s. He arrived in Miami
before the age of 1 along with his brother and mother and permanently landed in North Miami Beach.
Rich in its culture and diversity, NMB would help to define Appel in the years to come. A chance encounter would turn him on to using a camera to create and tell the stories that were happening all around him. In the years to come David aka AppelJax would teach himself the skills that would see him become one
of the most highly sought-after creative directors in Miami. In 2017 he formed his company The System Life with the mantra “create your own”. From photography, film, graphics, web design, music production, fashion styling, product rollouts and launches to curating experiential events, AppelJax
continues to tell authentic stories. Some of the brands/artists he’s worked with include; Nike, Adidas, Fila, Wing Stop, Mitchell & Ness, Jagermeister, Muzic Swipe, Cool J’s ,Rick Ross, 99Jamz, King Hoodie, Mike Smiff, Dyna Edyne , Riiah World, Jerome Melo, The Elements, City of North Miami Beach ,North Miami, LEX Promotions, Dream Defenders and many more etc.

the experience

the interviews

Listen in as FreeTape artists share their thoughts about the creative process behind the songs and their transformative experiences working on the project.


After emancipation... all those people who had been slaves, they needed the music more than ever now. It was like they were trying to find out in this music what they were supposed to do with freedom: playing the music and listening to it - waiting for it wasn’t just white people the music had to reach to... but it straight out to life, and to what a man does with his life when it finally is his.”

-Sidney Bechet in Treat It Gentle

the movement

The Free Tape is our generation’s continuation of the deeply historical tradition of using our voices through music and song to bolster courage and foster a spirit of revolution.

We are young people fighting for the future we deserve. Dream Defenders
of a future with no cages, violence, or corporate greed.

Will you join us in this effort? Together, WE SHALL overcome!
Learn more at

Text "DreamDefend"
to 484848