This rap video by young people with learning disabilities will make your day

Rap star Jonny the Wolf takes to the mic
11 Nov 2015 @ 7.28 pm
| News

Are you ready to have your mind (and body) rocked by York hip hop stars Reepa, DinoJib, JZ, Jonny the Wolf, KDee, SusieStar, Math-Yo, Team Heroes and Scotty Dogg2000?

Their Hip Hop Shake Up! video, created during a music workshop run by Tang Hall Smart, was made to challenge stereotypes of disability and ends up absolutely smashing them.

One watch and you’ll be singing “We’re on fire, get higher” all day. You might even do it while wearing a baseball cap.

Shakin’ it up

Sue Williamson is managing director of Tang Hall Smart, which aims to change lives through Sound, Music, Art, Recreation and Training from its base at Burnholme Community Hub.

She explained where the idea came from.

Over the last year or so, we’ve run several community gigs featuring all eight of our music clubs and classes.

Our participants have good models of popular music to inspire them, and have been particularly excited by rap and beat-boxing. The video is something they wanted.

We also wanted to make a statement about equality. Hip hop is for everyone.

School of rock

Shaking up stereotypes with the help of hip hop
Shaking up stereotypes with the help of hip hop

Nine young people aged 14 to 27 made the video. Most are pupils on Smart’s part-time music industry training course and others attend the Inclusive Rock School Club.

Sue says

We have worked with some of the participants for over a year now, including Jonny the Wolf.

I love his work. He’s performed at three of our gigs, and is a real favourite with audiences.

Originally, he was Punk Rock Jonny, but rap is now definitely his thing.

He usually spends 30 minutes or so freestyling with Gareth our hip hop coach every week.

Vibrant and uplifting

The Smart hip hop crew put on one heck of a performance at Burnholme Community Hub
The Smart hip hop crew put on one heck of a performance at Burnholme Community Hub

The beats used in Hip Hop Shake Up! are an original creation by Dan Stapylton, who also produced the video.

“He wanted an 80s vibe, something really vibrant and uplifting,” says Sue.

“The chorus, which came from one of the participants, symbolises the energy of the day.”

Role models

Kanye and Jay-Z never look like they're having this much fun
Kanye and Jay-Z never look like they’re having this much fun

The video aims to challenge misconceptions about people with disabilities, but does it also challenge the young rappers themselves to step up as role models?

“Participants now have a new part to their identity: hip hop performer,” says Sue.

“They’re role models and disability champions, whose work is likely to be of interest to young people with learning disabilities nationally.

“Our video could make a very real difference, not just to the performers themselves, but to a wider audience who might feel inspired to have a go themselves.”

Shades? Check. Baseball cap? Check. Cool attitude? Check.
Shades? Check. Baseball cap? Check. Cool attitude? Check.