Rappers big up da Lady Mayor

Joseph Lee

It could be the end of their street cred, but seven teenagers from Oldham are celebrating winning a songwriting competition by rapping about good citizenship.

While Public Enemy told listeners to "fight the power", the youngsters, from a project run by Oldham Youth Offending Team, rhymed about making peace with police and gave a shout-out to their town's mayor, Kay Knox.

Their rap, "Young and Oldham", won the Learning and Skills Development Agency's citizenship songwriting competition, intended to revive the spirit of protest singers like Bob Dylan. It included the lines: "I've got enough respect for Oldham's lady mayor, her chains support the youth ... if we can chill with the mayor, we can chill anywhere."

Each rapper gets an iPod and vocal coaching from David and Carrie Grant, judges of BBC talent show, Fame Academy. They will also perform at a prize-giving ceremony.

The rappers were on a project to prevent "at-risk" teenagers from offending. Susan Hamlin, who ran the project, said they had shown little interest in other activities until she brought in a musician to work with them creating music.

Callum McDonald, one of the rappers, said: "The competition was like someone finally giving me the opportunity to be noticed and share my views.

We chose the theme of this rap because we're trying to show other people that we're not criminals, that we are only human beings, and that we need a little help from other people sometimes in order to get on in life."

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Joseph Lee

Joseph Lee is an award-winning freelance education journalist 

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