Rap and Redemption on Death Row

Seeking Justice and Finding Purpose behind Bars

By Alim Braxton, Mark Katz

248 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 19 halftones

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7871-9
    Published: April 2024
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7870-2
    Published: April 2024
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7872-6
    Published: April 2024

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Imprisoned since age nineteen, Alim Braxton has spent more than a quarter century on North Carolina’s death row. During that time, he converted to Islam and dedicated his life to redemption. Braxton, a rapper since the age of thirteen, uses his rhymes as a form of therapy and to advocate for prison reform, particularly by calling attention to the plight of the wrongfully incarcerated. This book, a hip-hop-rich prison memoir, chronicles Braxton’s struggles and triumphs as he attempts to record an album while on death row, something no one has done before.

Braxton’s world is complex: full of reflections on guilt, condemnation, incarceration, religious awakening, and the redemptive power of art. Ultimately, Braxton shows us that even amid the brutality of our prison system there are moments of joy, and on death row joy may be the most powerful form of resistance.

About the Authors

Alim Braxton (a.k.a. RRome Alone) is a writer, rapper, and activist living on North Carolina’s death row in Raleigh.
For more information about Alim Braxton, visit the Author Page.

Mark Katz is the John P. Barker Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of several books, including Build: The Power of Hip Hop Diplomacy in a Divided World.
For more information about Mark Katz, visit the Author Page.


"A raw, contemplative account of a death-row inmate’s journey toward redemption through faith, family, and rap . . . . An unvarnished look at a life reclaimed deep within the edifice of mass incarceration."—Kirkus Reviews

"Unless the world be utterly remade, Michael J. 'Alim' Braxton and Dr. Mark Katz were not likely to have ever met. Yet you hold in your hands, despite the machinations of fate and their former slave state, the undeniable proof they did. This means, most of all, Rap and Redemption on Death Row testifies to will of mind, the power before which even molybdenum bars must bend."— Harry Allen, hip-hop activist and media assassin

“Alim Braxton’s story is a harrowing one—far too common, yet rarely heard from the vantage of the person living it. This book lets readers hear the words directly, in his voice, and humanizes the men on death row with whom he is serving time. Braxton’s book draws us into his worlds and takes us through his transformations. Like The Autobiography of Malcolm X, it reads like a testament to a life of reinvention.”—A. D. Carson, University of Virginia