Hartford, Connecticut is filled with an extraordinary amount of talent. The underground music scene is flooded with a sea of adrenaline charged, unstoppable, undeniable ground breaking artists. You can find them not only in bars, night clubs and cafés performing; but also opening up for some of the biggest names in the industry when they grace Hartford arenas. They are diligent entrepreneurs who work hard and distribute their own music in local barber shops, hair salons, clothing stores and via the web. They are on every corner there is pouring their hearts out to prove to the world that they are rock stars; waiting for that one big break to change their fate - just about anywhere you go there is a, "Diamond in the Ruff", waiting to be found.
This term may seem familiar to all you Disney fans. In the Disney classic, Aladdin, it was revealed that a, Diamond in the Ruff, is an outstanding person who is misunderstood, overshadowed, hidden, held down and categorized because of the environment that surrounds them. With Hartford being labeled once, "one of the most dangerous cities in the United States", known for its murders and violence; some people would consider Hartford a ruff place.
But just as the Genie was the answer to Aladdin's wishes - Hartford has a genie of its own and his name is Joe Young. Joe Young is the founder of Young! Studios located at 942 Main St. in downtown Hartford. He is a nationally recognized cartoonist and writer a former Guinness World Record Holder and recipient of the White House's Daily Point of Light Award. He is the creator of the previously nationally-syndicated comic strip, Scruples and animated Holiday film, It's Christmas, Dr. Joe. He has been featured in People, Ebony, Jet, New York Times, Boston Globe, US Weekend, C-Span and other media outlets.
Joe Young has published a novel called, Diamond Ruff. A book that focuses on a 28-year-old multi-millionaire street smart con artist who's name is, Diamond Ruff; he meets a charismatic Generation X type named, Reverend Trek Woods. When the two men come together they form a bond that ends up improving each others lives and inspiring millions of people around the world. Joe Young is in the process of turning the book into a feature film, The Diamond Ruff Movie that will play in box offices all around the world - this will be the first multi-million dollar film to be shot in the city of Hartford.
He already has some major names in mind to be a part of the production like; Bobby Brown and Mekhi Phifer. Fredro Star - former member of the rap group, Onyx and actor on the HBO hit series, The Wire, has stated, "This project is going to be very big, so I am getting involved now on the ground floor!" The book and movie is part of Joe Young's Diamond Ruff Project , Joe says, "It is a historic public inter-generational participatory project designed to inspire people to achieve their dreams".
Recently, Joe along with his son Kyle has taken this project to another level. Opening up the doors of the state-of-the-art multi-million dollar Young! Studios to Hartford's own Diamond Ruff's. Every Friday night from 7pm - 9pm Young! Studios host an event called, "Looking for Diamond Ruff", a place where artists can come out and showcase their talents while competing for cash prizes. In an, American Idol, type fashion each act is critiqued on their performance by three judges and at the end of the night the judges deliberate to see who are that night's first, second and third place, Diamond Ruff's.
As if the cash prizes and arranging the venue to express themselves were not enough, Joe announced last week that he is looking to add Hartford musicians to the soundtrack for the, Diamond Ruff movie. This will give each contestant an opportunity to be featured on an internationally distributed CD for a feature film. How many unsigned artists can say that they have had an opportunity at this measure? Joe Young is truly sticking to his mission of making this Diamond Ruff Project a ground breaking, "public inter-generational participatory project".
Joe's commitment to his vision is opening doors for so many of Hartford's talented artists. He has created yet another vessel for rappers, singers, rockers and poets to come out and for a few hours escape their environments of circumstance and be the stars that they truly are. So if you are the next, Diamond Ruff, make sure you get down to Young! Studios on Friday nights because when your in the presence of a genie like Joe you never know what opportunities may present themselves for you.