Kallum, 24, is a rapper from Cambridge who’s been taking part in music-making projects run by local youth charity Romsey Mill since he was 14.
With their support, he’s made huge progress in developing his lyrical style and technical skills. And he’s now taking on additional responsibilities as a music leader – helping younger participants write, record and produce their own material.
“Ten years down the line, I’m here now”
Kallum was in his early teens when he first thought about making his own music. “There were certain groups, where I’m from, that did music that I liked. They weren’t famous, but they were famous to the community, kind of thing.
“That’s what made me want to do music. Do you know when you look up to the older lot? It was just one of those things.
“K [Karl, the music leader at Romsey Mill] used to be in one of the groups,” continues Kallum, “and I knew K was good at music, so I thought if I go there and learn what he’s doing, I’ll be good as well! And ten years down the line, I’m here now.”
“You mature with the music”
Kallum’s noticed a lot of changes in his writing style since he first started at Romsey Mill. “It was more like a rebellious thing at first, you just talk about nonsense really, but it evolved – obviously you get older and you mature with the music.
“If I wasn’t coming to the Chapel [another local youth group] or Romsey Mill when I was 13, 14, I would have been with my friends drinking on the high street and stuff like that.”
Today, Kallum’s inspired by the lyrical skills of the younger artists he’s helping to mentor. “I’d hear [other participants] come in, and I’m like ‘did he actually just say that?’ – and that makes me want to just go home and start writing, and then I’ll come in tomorrow and try and beat that, even though he doesn’t know that!”
“It’s like my second house”
Kallum’s made some solid friendships at Romsey Mill and enjoys having the chance to collaborate with others. “When you make tunes, you’ve got to have vibes,” he says, “so I prefer people around me when music’s getting made.”
He’s also excited about what the future has in store for all the young artists from the project. “At least one of us is going to make it, that’s what I feel like anyway.
“[At least] one person that I know in this building will do what Bugzy Malone did for Manchester – do you know what I mean? Like, just give Cambridge the recognition that it deserves – that’s the feeling that I get when I’m here.
“I’m not even working today, but I come in every Tuesday and help out, I don’t know, I just feel like – it’s like my second house!”
“I’ll always be making beats”
“I don’t know what I want to do yet, but definitely something to do with music,” says Kallum. “If I made a song now and it blew up tomorrow and I was famous, great – I would just run with that!
“I [might] stop rapping [eventually] – I’m not going to be 50 years old with a mic in my hand, you know what I mean! But I’ll always be making beats, or helping someone with their music. My dad’s nearly 60 and still DJing, so it’s just in the blood isn’t it!
“I actually don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have music. If I just gave up? I would feel worthless. I would just feel like ‘what was I doing? Why did I stop?’”
The Sound of
the Next Generation
Check out the full report into the diverse ways young people engage with and value music and music-making, and read more stories from the young musicians we spoke to.