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George the Poet: ‘My manifesto was in poetry when I ran for student union chair’

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The spoken word artist from north London on drill music, using art to educate young people and the joy of podcasting

Spoken-word artist George the Poet, or George Mpanga, 27, grew up in Neasden in north-west London before attending Cambridge University. As a writer of socially charged rap and poetry, he has become a spokesperson for issues faced by multicultural inner-city communities. Earlier this year, he opened the BBC’s coverage of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and appeared twice on Question Time. His podcast series, Have You Heard George’s Podcast?, is performed to a live audience, who are given the option to wear a blindfold and encouraged to focus on the immersive sound effects and different voices.

What drew you to being a performer?
When I was a teenager, grime was blossoming. I caught the bug. Writing lyrics, recording music and performing at community events grew me as a person. My engagement in school sharpened because I was putting my vocabulary to use.

Drill is part of a long tradition of young black men creating an artistic expression that captures the attention of people around the world

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