An Interview with MC Grammar

An Interview with MC Grammar (1)

MC Grammar is an award-winning rapping teacher who is about to embark on his first live tour ‘Stop! It’s Grammar Time!’. Celebrating the launch of his new song ‘Readers are Leaders’ for World Book Day 2024, the tour promises an exciting blend of education and entertainment. Here, he talks about the tour, as well as his ‘Young Voices’ cvollaboration, his early influences and overcoming the obstacles to his success…

Jacob, aka MC Grammar – you’re currently on tour with Young Voices, how has the tour been – what’s been a highlight?
Amazing! Incredible! Sensational! There just aren’t enough adjectives to describe the epic event that is ‘Young Voices’. For me the whole thing is a highlight. The crew, the music, the magic of live performance, the teachers and of course the kids. It’s the biggest children’s choir in the world so to have the privilege and honour of performing every night to sold-out arenas across the UK is a dream come true, and an experience both the children and I will never ever forget.

You’ve just announced your own headline tour of the UK – which cities are you most excited about visiting and what can we expect from the tour?
I am excited to visit every city and every theatre. I am here because of the children and families that watch my tv shows, listen to my music and learn from my online lessons; so to be able to meet the Grammar Gang face-to-face and perform to all of them live is so so special. And the show is going to be so much fun for the whole family. We are going to read, rap, beatbox, dance, DJ, freestyle, battle… and just get lost in an enthralling musical adventure. I have a DJ and of course I am the MC — so what more do you need?! It’s an introduction into hip hop culture and all of the colours and good vibes the music brings. Can’t wait!

You’re an ambassador for World Book Day and support the charity by all profits of your news single ‘Readers Are Leaders’ being donated to them – what does World Book Day mean to you?
World Book Day is my favourite day of the year. The moment the magic of books and reading gets the spotlight for the world to see how awesome they truly are. And we ‘go in’ on this opportunity and spotlight; it’s our time to shine with live performances, book read-alongs, author/illustrator events, lobbying parliament, school shows, press interviews…you name it! Books should be read, talked about, acted out, celebrated…and rapped every day of the year, so World Book Day is a wonderful opportunity to remind the world of that magic and to ignite that reading for pleasure adventure for all kids. In essence, it’s all about getting books into the hands of families and children to change their lives for the better. How wonderful is that!

Tell us about your journey into becoming a teacher and what role books and education played in your childhood?
For every age or stage in my life a book has been there. From Where the Wild Things Are as a little kid to Matilda growing up and the wonder of Roald Dahl’s magical worlds. I soon found a love for poetry and then non-fiction: The Slight Edge, Think and Grow Rich, Who Moved My Cheese, The Alchemist to name only a small selection. They have helped me; answered my questions; transported me to different worlds on wild adventures; comforted me and inspired me. Their gifts are never-ending. And when I became a teacher this magic multiplied and grew and grew. With so many different children in your class with varying needs, likes and interests I found there was always a book there to help no matter what. They changed my life as a child and still do as an adult; a journey I want everyone to experience.

An Interview with MC Grammar (2)

When did you first realise you could rap and what inspired you to integrate that into your role as a teacher?
Music and hip-hop was my outlet. A place I would go to escape as a teenager. One day, it became more than that, a tool. My way of remembering and recalling information. As soon as I discovered my ability to rhyme, I realised I could apply it anywhere. So I did. All of my revision notes, lecture lessons and mnemonics became raps in college. The rest is history. Jacob, a Dictaphone and a beat equalled success! Connecting this skill of mine with teaching made perfect sense in the classroom. Kids love music and rap. Like anything, when children are excited, invested and engaged they are connected. Music and rap did this for me in my class with all of the kids I worked with. They became excited about the lessons and learning and my teaching game changed: MC Grammar was born.

What music did you grow up listening to?
That’s a tough one because, for me, music is mood. Different artists and genres inspire me depending on how I am feeling. Sometimes I want to chill to a slow jam, and sometimes I want to vibe to a UK Garage banger. Music is emotion — that’s why it connects all of us together. It’s how we feel. That being said, growing up I was a massive Wu Tang fan, and of course Big L, 2Pac, Nas and Biggie. Hip-hop stole my heart for sure.

What obstacles did you overcome to get to your position now? And what’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I have had many obstacles in both my personal journey and as a teacher. As a student I didn’t connect with school and how I was taught, ultimately failing school and leaving with hardly any qualifications. However, once I discovered ‘my way of learning’ through music and rhyme I smashed it; and then applied this method to my teaching which has in turn become successful. So, I guess my best piece of advice is to find your lane. Ask yourself: What is your purpose? What can you give back to the world that makes your heart happy? What are you passionate about? Once you have a clear vision and mission, just do it. Don’t wait! Create.

If you could collaborate with any artist – who would it be and why?
I don’t have a specific list of artists yet. But I do have a vision: I would love other rappers and popstars to join me on my mission to help me get books into the hands of all children around the world. Whether it’s singing or rapping some books with me, sharing books, supporting local libraries…I don’t mind. I just want to raise the profile and awareness around the importance of reading for pleasure and how life-changing books can be. So Ed or Stormzy, if you are reading this, let’s reach out to the full crew to get creative so all children have a chance to read every day.

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