Will is a youth worker and hip hop artist (known as JD). He wanted to do a project about the history of hip hop in Derby to engage young people and was the lead youth worker on the project. Read his reflections on the project.
Can you tell us about your first experiences of hip hop?
I first used to listen to people like Tupac. Then me and my brother would try and make our own rhymes and end up rapping about our head teacher and stuff like that just for fun really and I never thought anything would happen with it. But nowadays I’ve worked with the likes of Genesis Elijah, Dead Prez, Dr G, Razcas and a few others. Its crazy I remember saving my pocket money and selling my packed lunch at school everyday and going hungry so I could go to the studio at the Madeley Centre. There was an engineer called Si Mizzle and it was £13 per hour, he was brilliant he would mix your track down whilst you were spitting your bars, the guy was off the hook. So every Friday night I’d be down there with my lunch money. I started getting a bit of recognition and I decided that’s what I want to do I want to be an MC and then I took it one step further and went to Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies and made lots of amazing links with people like DJ Fever and MC Spyda. They introduced me to the industry and put me on in front of 10,000 people at the Goose Fair, Nottingham carnival.
Can you give some examples of how you have used Hip Hop to help young people in the Derby area?
I’ve put on various projects that were built to empower young people and help to create a better city. We have the hip hop history project, we have Money Power Respect (MPR) where we touch on global issues and then make tracks about it and things like that. We’ve also worked with Impact Derby who have put work in to stop young people joining gangs and finding something to fulfill themselves with. For me back then I found one thing that creatively pulled me out of the lifestyle that I was in so I try and work with young people to help them down a positive path.
What’s your message to the young people of Derby?
My message would be life is for living reputation on the street is nothing. Think about the bigger picture, nothing is impossible you can be who you want to be you just have to find your goal and believe it – implement the steps so you can reach your goal.