When the kids of Oakridge Young Educated Artists take the stage, they personal it. It’s theirs.
I do know this as a result of I’ve seen them carry out at Wooly’s for the Black Futures fundraiser in March.
Their vitality was magnetic as they bounced throughout the stage to hip hop beats. The OYEA kids rapped 4 unique hip hop songs about their world and the world round them. They confirmed nothing however confidence at each verse.
“Oakridge, we get lit. Oakridge, we make hits,” they rapped in unison. Emmett Phillips, their youth navigator at Oakridge, was their hype man.
“We Oakridge, oh yeah! We take risks, oh yeah! No fear.”
OYEA is an after-school fine arts program in the Oakridge Neighborhood, a nonprofit housing community that is home to hundreds of refugees and immigrants in Des Moines. Under the OYEA umbrella, Oakridge kids can get involved in Be Real Studios, — which teaches them design, branding and entrepreneurship — performance arts, visual arts and more.
What started as an OYEA playwright and acting group — where the kids write, direct and perform their own plays — transformed into a hip hop group during the summer of 2020, Phillips, 28, said. The kids were asked by a local artist to write a song about how they felt about the George Floyd uprisings nationwide.
“We wanted justice,” Abeny Kur, 11, said. So they recorded the song “Success Is My Protest” in an Oakridge closet. They’ve gained a following since then. With more performances on the way, the group has already performed at least 10 times in the Des Moines metro, including last year’s Ankeny Juneteenth Celebration and the Des Moines Arts Festival.
And at Wooly’s, they met their first fan in person.
“I felt like a superstar. We got to go into the VIP room, we got chicken wings,” Asjed Bokhary, 11, mentioned.
I caught up with the OYEA kids a couple of weeks after their Wooly’s efficiency, and their vitality was the identical.
To heat up, they picked out a hip hop beat on YouTube and gathered in a circle. The kids hyped one another up as one after the other, they’d go into the middle of the circle to showcase their dance strikes.
Then they confirmed off their lyricism.
“Let’s get lit. Let’s go,” Mariam Noah, 12, mentioned earlier than spitting a verse for me. Asjed adopted with a verse, too.
I used to be so impressed. These kids have expertise — expertise that they’re happy with.
Oakridge kids observe their dreams
OYEA is a chance for kids to shine. “It means we will observe our dreams,” Abeny mentioned.
Like Intcar Koudi, 13, who desires to be a singer. She supplies the vocals on the hook of “Success Is My Protest.”
At Wooly’s, “I simply went on the market. I instructed myself I used to be going to do that for my grandma — she simply handed away,” Intcar mentioned.
And like Mariam, who did not even know she may rap till “Success Is My Protest.”
“Since then, you’ve got been rapping like loopy,” Phillips instructed Mariam. She smiled earlier than freestyling a verse on the spot.
But OYEA is greater than the alternatives this system supplies.
“It’s friendship and love,” Nani Mneur, 13, mentioned.
“We are household — and after we see what they’ll do, they blow our minds,” Phillips mentioned.
“I like them. I’m very happy with them. I’ve cried a number of instances watching footage of them. They are gorgeous. I can’t inform them that, although — they’ll make enjoyable of me,” Phillips mentioned smiling, wanting towards his OYEA household.
Andrea Sahouri covers social justice for the Des Moines Register. She is a big fan of music, and hip hop is one among her favourite genres. She loves hip hop’s historical past as a catalyst for social change. Andrea might be contacted email@example.com, on Twitter@andreamsahouri, or by cellphone 515-284-8247.
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