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Rap club has made school cool, say Haverstock’s hip-hop pupils

Teachers believe music group helps youngsters channel their feelings

11 October, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

Young rappers Zione Martin, Jereme Watanu Bungisa and Maryam Bolaji

A SECONDARY school has launched a rap club giving students an outlet to “channel feelings”.

The group at Haverstock School in Chalk Farm are writing songs to put together their own record and perform live.

Music teacher Ben Turner, who joined the school earlier this year having previously set up a rap club at a school in Croydon, said: “There has been negative press about things like drill music and no other real alternative. “Here we can learn to write about music without being violent. They are already writing about deep things which I wouldn’t want them to feel they have to perform.”

The rap club he set up in Croydon went on to perform at Wembley Arena and the pupils at the Haverstock Hill school are keen to do the same. Zione Martin, 13, said the club gives him motivation and ambition to work harder.

“I was getting into trouble with teachers. My attendance was low and I wasn’t coming to school,” said Zione, who also goes to WAC arts centre to learn drumming but had never rapped before. “When I found out about the club, I wanted to be a part of it. It gave me a reason to come to school.”

Jereme Watanu Bun­gisa, 13, is a songwriter for the group. “I have grown more confident in writing,” he said. “Whatever I am feeling I can put down on paper. I’ve been writing about how my life can be tough, how it can be hard, but also if I’m feeling happy I can get that down on paper too. Writing a song can free your mind and create empty space.”

Maryam Bolaji, 14, a singer and rapper, said: “I am constantly listening to music with my earphones, especially if something has annoyed me or I’m not feeling great. It’s a way to channel everything you’re feeling. It’s like a family. There are different things you can do – there’s a choir, you can sing, and rap – it’s not just sticking to one thing. It gives different year groups a way to connect. It’s something different and it’s something unique as we get to make our own songs.”

Zione Martin gives the CNJ a taste of rap club and below, Maryam Bolaji, provides more vocals

The group practise every day at break and lunch times and after school and are preparing to perform at the Royal Albert Hall next month. They are planning to busk at Euston Station, preparing for the school’s winter show and also to make a trip abroad.

“It’s a lot to put in,” said Zione, “but you definitely get what you want out of it. We are going to take the world by storm.”

And Jereme added: “It feels cool to be a part of. I feel like I’m going somewhere. I don’t really notice the work I’m putting in because we are having too much fun.”

Mr Turner said: “So many people are trying to audition which shows it is something that people want to be a part of.”

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