IEveryone Can Rap (ITV), a beautiful and very short film by Daniel Dempster, South London rapper Youngs Teflon takes three people a day who have never sung before and starts turning them into professionals over the course of one week. “Everyone can rap” is the theory, but in its infancy, Youngs Teflon – Teff for his friends – isn’t sure if that theory will hold up. The question may be more than that. Can everyone rap? We’re about to find out.
Tef works with three newcomers, all of whom have their own reasons for wanting to try something new. Nicole is 38 years old, a mother in London. She points out that usually, when black mothers are seen on British television, it is because they are suffering or in pain. She wants to put on something different. As she says, “I want to be vocal. I want to be vocal for a day.”
Daniel is 34 years old and from Brighton. He’s autistic – viewers might recognize him as a regular on the outrageously titled but deeply poignant Channel 4 show. Unpacked – As a result he often spoils his words. His parents explained that until he discovered music, he was so shy and introverted that he wore sunglasses at all times. Now, he gives the impression of a man who will try anything that has the power to get him excited.
Then there’s Karen, 52, of Birmingham, who has a long history of anxiety and panic attacks. She had never listened to rap before deciding to give it a try.
They are a powerful group with a range of abilities and motivations, although they share a desire to improve themselves and their confidence in an intangible way. I think part of the goal of this program is to recast rap and hip-hop for television audiences who, like Karen, may not be fully aware of them, or may have picked up on more negative associations. Early on, two academics were brought from Cambridge, Dr. Achim Soleil and Dr. Becky Inkster, to explain the technical and social advantages of the model. They play the Maino All the Above set, and give a presentation on their use of cognitive paraphrasing.
This proves that the program is not really for rap fans. He spends more time defending rap than a show like BBC UK rap game, whose audience is supposed to have an inherent knowledge of the genre. He monitors rap’s critics, communicating with those who ridicule it as melodic, artistic, or unworthy. While the academics are interesting, the show’s arguments about the power of rap are most compelling when they come from Tef, which explains its function as a therapeutic device, and “the voice of the voiceless.”
The program is framed as a talent show. There’s a brief nod to Love Island-style gimmicks with a “text from Tef” moment (just one), but overall it looks more like old-school Pop Idol than a modern-day prime-time pomp like The Voice. Made me feel nostalgic. I loved the boardroom aesthetic and the low-stakes, anti-hysterical feel of it all. Everything is incredibly sweet and comforting. Lives in the same area as you Gareth Malone And his choirs, ascend wherever they find an opportunity to be.
Youngs Teflon takes on the role of mentor and elicits confidence from his subjects. He asks them to draw on their greatest challenges and use that as inspiration. Nicole Raab about her experience with an ectopic pregnancy. Daniel packs his favorite phrases. Karen takes on the self-doubt that has plagued her. Once the three contestants go to an open mic night, to see how the pros do it, they get a makeover, a rap name, and a chance to perform their rap in front of friends and families on their own show.
This temporary time feels like a pilot for a larger series, one that will allow participants more time to show how they went from never using rap to spitting bars, and what it means for them to get there. To use the language of reality TV, I wanted to see their journey. It was only this time to show the beginning. In the end, all three proved to be decent performers, much better than the first moments suggested they would be, but in many ways, that’s off topic. The point is, they did it. Three unlikely rappers had to be rocking for the day.