Who Am I Creative Academy

March 2018 and we were in Germany performing Orchestra of Samples at the MicroB Festival in Mannheim (did you know Mannheim is where both the very first bicycle and very first car were invented?).  We hadn’t been back to Germany for some time and so took the opportunity to hook up with Tobias Schirneck aka rapper Likkle T – the artist behind Germany’s Rapfugee Camp and boss of social enterprise Who.Am.I. Creative Academy.

An amazing community organisation and educational hub founded in 2011, the school combines social work with first class know-how and authentic experience from active professional rap artists, helping teenagers, young adults and both refugees and migrants motivate themselves.  Without a doubt rap plays an immensely important role in the lives of a great many young people and the international style and culture of hip-hop serves as a vital platform for communication, a bridge between generations and national cultures as the musical genre so easily crosses borders.  It was great to work with the team there, and with tranquil early morning silence all around us and no beats, we recorded Likkle T rapping free style and often in three languages – German, English and French…

Believe it or not, the Who.Am.I. Creative Academy were Germany’s first and only educational rap school and still are.  And via workshops, masterclasses and courses they combines art, culture and social work through rap, song, photography and even percussion.  Participants are actively involved in shaping workshops rather than just participating and being lectured to and we felt quite humbled seeing the valuable contribution they make to cultural and social cohesion.

Helping with community integration and Germany’s recent influx of migrants and refugees, particularly young Syrians, the school have partnered with the Mannheim National Theatre to organise RapfugeeCamp.  The project brings together and encourages both locals and migrants from wildly different backgrounds to collaborate and produce hip-hop together – with many rapping in their own mother-tongues, from Arabic and Persian language Farsi to Nigerian languages and West African Wolof (the language spoken in Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania – in fact we recorded rap-star Matador rapping in Wolof when recording him in Senegal some years back, which we later sampled for our track Kora Borealis).

Check them out here www.rap-workshop.de and here www.whoami-workshops.de or their YouTube channel and Facebook page.

With massive thanks to Tobias Schirneck, Ben König and the whole team.