Edmonton Examiner features young MCs T.O.A. (The Over Achievers) [Article]
Edmonton, AB – As a kid watching rap videos on TV in Sudan, Muta Mouraine wanted nothing more than to grow up and be a hip-hop star. At age 17, Mouraine’s dream is already coming true. Mouraine and his two brothers,15-year-old Namso and 13-year-old Moto, will release their first rap video Friday for “Freak My Style,” a track by their aptly named hip-hop group T.O.A. (The Over Achievers).
The teen and his family moved to Edmonton in 2005 to escape civil war and find a better education. He and his brothers found an unlikely door into the rap world at the Hope Mission’s Tegler Youth Centre, where they joined a hip-hop club run by successful local emcees The Joe, Mikey Maybe and Jonek.
“They helped us improve our flows, (taught us) what you need to do to rap, how to go over your writing, stuff like that,” Mouraine says.
Still refining their English skills at the time, the young trio also used rapping to improve their literacy.
“In a lot of ways it did. Just the fact that you have to be careful with your vocabulary,” he says. “Some rap, you break (grammar) rules, but when I rap I don’t do that.”
Mouraine sticks with positive themes in his rhymes, while still having fun and expressing his feelings.
For example, the T.O.A. song Sudan’s Story tells of their mom’s struggle raising five kids without a father in the conflict-ridden African nation.
The group is already blowing minds across the city, playing more than 70 shows, getting airplay on CJSR, CBC Radio and Bounce 91.7 FM, and recently winning the 2011 Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers’ Youth Achievement Award.
Marlon Wilson of long-running local rap group Politic Live has spent a lot of time around T.O.A., as the two groups have collaborated and fellow Politic Live member Dirt Gritie manages the trio.
Wilson says he has already seen a huge growth in T.O.A.’s skills as performers.
“They understand the importance of having stage presence, they understand the importance of connecting with an audience, they understand the importance of writing a song – and not just writing for the sake of entertainment, but also writing for the sake of connecting people,” Wilson says.
T.O.A. is working on its first full-length album, to follow up the TOA 2010 Summer Sampler EP.
In the meantime, Mouraine is paying forward the help he’s received from other local rappers.
The teen holds songwriting workshops at St. Catherine school, where he helps other English as a Second Language (ESL) students develop their literacy skills by writing rap songs.
“I was an ESL student once, so I know what the kids feel,” he says. “It’s just something positive.”
The Friday night release show for the Freak My Style video – featuring cameos by The Joe and Mikey Maybe – will be held at Avenue Theatre, 9030 118 Ave.
You can also catch T.O.A. tonight as part of the Global Youth Assembly at the John Humphrey Centre (7723 85 St.) and at the Cariwest Carribean Arts Festival next month.
To hear T.O.A., visit http://www.reverbnation.com/TheOverAchievers.
Source: Edmonton Examiner
By: Kevin Maimann (Examiner Staff)
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