Published: 06:00, 04 October 2020
A collective of hip hop artists in Medway have starred in a music video they hope will inspire others to find an outlet for their frustrations and struggles, much of which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
In the video It's Peak, Gillingham group CaGeNation freestyle over a wonky 90s hip hop track, tackling the uncertainty and pain young people have felt navigating the strange timeline of 2020.
Watch: CaGeNation perform 'It's Peak', produced by GTown Talents
The title is a double meaning, referencing the peak of the virus and the slang 'peak,' meaning something bad or particularly negative.
Matthew Hodge, 26, who goes by his rap name Element, said: "As soon as we were masked up, as soon as we were put into lockdown, it's like the joy was sapped away.
"We find it difficult to kind of enjoy ourselves and find an outlet, so in that sense, it's peak.
"We're expressing our frustrations, and hopefully we can inspire people to be able to go out and shoot videos."
Michael Oyar, 23, who goes by Omicyizzy, joked: "For me it symbolises the fact that I stayed up 'til like midnight New Year, just to celebrate, then four months later my whole year is ******."
He added: "There's always something happening every single week around my road, always police there.
"It's going to get worse because of quarantine, I can feel it - there has to be something for people that takes their mind off all of this."
As a collective raised in the area, they are keen to speak up for young people, who they feel can often be overlooked when it comes to services and facilities supplied by the local council.
Matthew said: "Boredom is number one on the list in Medway. There are just not enough facilities for young people, whether it be youth clubs or any kind of youth initiative.
"And the entry barriers are too high for younger people, they cannot afford to do certain things, join certain clubs.
"Once we get to a position where we can do it, we want to open up studios that are free for kids to come and experiment, because how else are you going to occupy your time and get people interested in stuff that's not street related?
"Music has always been a way of escaping your reality, and for us that was definitely the case.
"Who knows where we'd be without the music?"
The group came up with their name after becoming friends on the common ground of the fenced-off sports court on Skinner Street, one of the few places in the area for them to hang out.
"Who knows where we'd be without the music?"
Malachi Wilson, 19, is the youngest of the group, and following his time spent in Youth Parliament feels there is more to be done to inspire Medway's young people.
He said: "There's a lot of creative people in Medway, but I think young people end up going to a baser way of thinking because they don't have the facilities to facilitate their ideas.
"If we didn't dig for our opportunities we'd end up like everyone else - in a beautiful place but with no way to express ourselves.
"Wherever there's boredom there's trouble - if people were busy they'd have no time to be going around beefing with people unnecessarily."
The music video was created in partnership with GTown Talents, a Gravesend -based promoter and collective run by Jimmy Babalola and creative director VybeRoom.
The pair were recently recognised at the Gravesham Community Awards for their work raising awareness of taboo subjects by giving young people a creative outlet through music and film.
They also created a music video during lockdown to support ellenor hospice in Northfleet , helping to raise funds after the charity predicted losses of more than £1 million.
They originally set up GTown with the focus on supporting young artists like CaGeNation who are making urban music.
Vyberoom said: "A lot of artists, including myself, we're going to London, and with studio time, train fares, everything adds up.
"Before you know it, it's just a pipe dream because you're like 'how am I going to afford this?'
"So we wanted to bring it home - let's create our own Kent scene."
It's Peak was funded by Ideas Test, an organisation awarding seed commissions to art projects across Medway and Swale .
The community company hopes to help break down barriers through creative projects which support the local area and reach groups that are typically marginalised.
Sarah Davies, producer at the organisation, said: "At Ideas Test we aim to empower our communities to lead more creative lives, and It's Peak meets that aim in a unique and very relevant way.
"It's a really important and hugely creative project, exploring the struggles of young people in our area during the pandemic.
"There's so much talent and skill in the video, from the performances to the creative filming methods, and the message comes loud and clear."
"We're really impressed," she added.