Loyle Carner calls it his superpower.
The 21-year-old Hip Hop artist who hails from South London has a whole host of achievements to his name and serves as a true inspiration to those with the condition. He has been a BBC sound of 2016 nominee, he has had his song ‘Tierney Terrace’ featured in an Apple commercial; he has supported Joey Badass on his UK tour, performed at Glastonbury Festival and he will be supporting Hip Hop legend Nas when he performs in the UK this month. Despite all of these achievements, life has not always been easy for Loyle Carner. In school he was misunderstood. Often perceived as the disruptive child who struggled to adapt to the rigid school system, Loyle Carner’s problems with ADHD and dyslexia (another condition linked to ADHD which gave him difficulty spelling) made him feel disillusioned in school. He has talked about feeling like he had no worth at school and described how he was isolated from other children by their parents because of his behaviour.
ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER. It looks scary and it has baffled medics for years. There has never quite been a good enough explanation of what it is exactly despite it being one of the most common childhood conditions, but it is characterised by hyperactivity, attention deficiency and impulsiveness which makes it difficult for children to concentrate. So many negatives; however, children with ADHD happen to be the most creative in the classroom but unfortunately their creativity is stifled by the school structure which condemns them as badly behaved kids with a lack of focus. Some medics suggest experimenting on these children with an array of drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin, others believe it is a mental condition which can never be treated and that people with ADHD just have to deal with it. Opinions are divided; itt’s all very confusing and can leave children with ADHD feeling unwanted and in a state of hopelessness. If the professionals have no explanation, then how can they?
Loyle Carner’s creative talents however, come in abundance. A graduate of London’s famous BRIT School (whose alumni include Adele, Amy Winehouse and Leona Lewis), he is a skilled actor and he has arguably the most unique rapping styles in UK Hip Hop right now. At a time where grime beats and hard lyrics are fashionable in the UK, his poetic flow, enriched by his raw vocals which often take you on a personal journey of reflections through his life over soft jazzy instrumentals are what make him truly special. His work is pure poetry and it is no surprise that his talent and hard work have gotten him this far. The vulnerability that he shares with his listeners in his songs allow him to connect on a deeper level and transcends his artistry above those of his competitors and what’s most exciting is that there is still so much more to come from him musically.
At a time where grime beats and hard lyrics are fashionable in the UK, his poetic flow, enriched by his raw vocals which often take you on a personal journey of reflections through his life over soft jazzy instrumentals are what make him truly special.
His song 'Cantona' is a passionate tribute to his late father:
He admitted that he was initially nervous about opening the cooking school with Goma – a social enterprise for creative projects. This was because he was not sure whether his positive views on the condition would be true for every child but upon doing so and seeing the success of the project, he certainly did not regret it. But why cooking? He felt cooking helped him a lot with his experiences with the condition as it helped him keep his mind focused on one thing; something people with ADHD struggle to do. On his reasons for starting the project, he said: ‘It’s all of these ‘cannot’s’ but there’s nobody saying you can do…It doesn’t matter what people have said you can’t do, you can cook and I’m going to show you, you can cook.’
The beauty of this project is that is about empowering children and giving them a sense of self-worth which they may have not otherwise received. Loyle Carner has previously said that as a child he didn’t know what people with ADHD grew up to do but he is a perfect example that people with the condition can have successful careers despite the negative messages and perceptions society pushes about people with the condition. This selfless act of an artist using their platform to bring about positive change in society is something we admire at Keakie. You can see the difference this project has made in these young peoples’ lives. One student of the cooking school said: ‘I’ve really enjoyed Chris and Ben (Loyle Carner) teaching me, they’re not like normal teachers. It’s like talking to a mate and them passing on knowledge; there’s no patronising.’
Interestingly, every part of the project seems to have wider society in mind. The food cooked by the students was supplied for free by Borough Market; London’s most renowned wholesale and retail market which has been around for over 1000 years. All of the food is healthy and was naturally produced.
The cross between community and artistry can often be overlooked but its importance can never be understated. Being an artist should always entail leadership and using your platform to change perceptions and attitudes, particularly on issues that may have affected you. It’s clear that growing up many teachers and parents didn’t understand Loyle Carner but through music he has found an escape and he can now inspire young people with ADHD to also do something special with their lives. No matter what challenges we face in life, we can always overcome them with positivity.
Behind the scenes at Loyle Carner's cooking school: