Rutherglen hip-hop artist aims to make mark

VISIT any live music venue in Glasgow showcasing emerging homegrown talent and you're probably going to hear indie music blasting from the amplifiers or lo-fi heartfelt outpourings from a singer-songwriter.

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Rapper Gavin Livingston
Rapper Gavin Livingston

You're unlikely to hear a rapper on a vocal mission to right the world's wrongs.

But Gavin Livingston wants to change that.

He wants to put Scottish hip-hop music at the forefront of our listening habits – and cultivate the next generation of urban stars.

"I want to do in Scotland what Dizzee Rascal did in England," said Gavin, 24, who performs under the stage name of Gav Livz.

"I want to be the guy who makes it in Scotland and then brings a lot of other people in.

"You wouldn't believe the amount of English people who I speak to in the music industry who have never heard of a Scottish rapper. That's incredible to me."

The Rutherglen-based rapper has established a project to give a platform to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to hone their hip-hop talents.

Scheme to a Dream aims to combat a lack of opportunities in urban music by giving the youngsters recording studio experience, lyric writing coaching and music production skills.

The project, which was funded through O2's Think Big scheme, recently received a high-profile boost when it was showcased at the O2 Academy on a bill with Tinchy Stryder and Chipmunk.

It passes another major milestone today with the digital release of its first compilation album, Scheme to a Dream: Volume 1, available on iTunes.

The 12 tracks recorded in Gavin's home studio have garnered interest thanks to a YouTube documentary charting the recording process.

Connor Graham, 17, who goes by the stage name of Atrocity, has contributed one song, Mr Invisible, for the album.

His track, The Wait is Over, features as the soundtrack to the documentary.

Connor, who lives in Erskine, is currently studying for an HNC in sound production at Reid Kerr College.

He said: "I just saw this as an opportunity to go for something that would teach me everything that I really needed to know to better my music."

Having left school without qualifications, Connor would like to see more being done to encourage alternative career paths.

"My school, like most schools in Scotland, didn't support the creative arts," he said.

Fellow rapper Amir Mohammadi, 19, became interested in Persian hip-hop as a schoolboy growing up in Iran.

He secretly watched his brother's copy of 2002 Eminem movie 8 Mile – and was spellbound despite barely understanding a word.

His family moved to the UK two years later and he was enrolled in second-year at St Mungo's Academy in Bridgeton, where he used rap lyrics as a way to improve his English skills.

Amir, who now lives in Penilee, and is studying biomedical science at University of the West of Scotland in Paisley, said: "In school, people used to give me a lot of hate because English isn't my first language."

He then got involved in a project called Health Summit and wrote a rap for a DVD about young carers that was sent to schools all over Glasgow and saw the pupils involved invited to the Scottish Parliament.

"Every day as a lyricist, my lyrical abilities have got better," he said.

"I'm sticking to it because I love it."

He has contributed an upbeat track called Let's Get the Party Cracking to the Scheme to a Dream album.

Yash Singh, from Newlands on Glasgow's South Side, was doing a sound production workshop at the Arches when a friend suggested he get in touch with Gavin Livingston.

The fifth year pupil at Hutchesons' Grammar has combined studying for his Highers with recording two tracks for the album, Summer Nights and Ain't No Pain.

"When I first heard hip-hop and rap, something connected and I just wanted to try it," said Yash, 17.

"I've not looked back since. I couldn't have dreamed of the things I've done since I got on this project."

Four acts from the project performed at a pre-album launch at the Classic Grand on Jamaica Street last month.

Gavin Livingston, who became a hip-hop convert thanks to Eminem's single The Real Slim Shady, wants to help others get the early foothold in the industry.

"I'm getting a lot of messages from Scottish rappers who are wanting to get involved," added Gavin.

"That was the whole point – I wanted to see if this was something that could grow and I think it is."

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