A current star in the making, spoken word artist Suli Breaks went viral with his talent in spoken word. He is notorious for being an internet inspiration to young people via his YouTube channel featuring footage of his travels, thoughts on the education system and the other opportunities available to young people. He’s even appeared in a campaign video for David Lammy to become London’s Mayor. It has drawn the attention of thousands of the YouTube community, but why stop there. Now he is an ambassador for the National Citizen Service (NCS).
“Say, ‘Yes!’ to NCS” is the slogan for the NCS who motivate teenagers to take up promising career opportunitie. The new digital campaign, which Suli Breaks appears in, pays tribute to the power of saying yes. It suits Suli down to the ground with its creative branding as well as its visual and musical aesthetic. With NCS, and government backing, a person 15-17 years old can be involved in a two to three week programme and a thirty hour community project, helping them build up their confidence and learn crucial skills for employment.
Taking the role in the film was a moral choice for Suli who understands the benefits of such a positive programme. With all this in mind, we thought we’d take him to one side to wrap up the details.
Spoken word is an art form not many explore. How did you get into it?
I’m quite an opinionated and expressive person and I gravitated to a medium which allowed me to express that opinion to others, whilst also combining my passion for art. I didn’t know it was called “Spoken Word” at the time; it was just poetry to me, but one that allowed me to connect with an audience.
Who do you look to for inspiration?
To be honest, I look to a multitude of sources of inspiration as opposed to a single figure. When it comes to innovation, I especially admire Steve Jobs for what he did with APPLE. When it comes to working hard and intensity, I like Michael Jordan. Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, are also figures I admire for their commitment to their beliefs. I think it is hard to admire just one person and not feel compelled to be like them. I admire my parents for how they raised my siblings and I. I tend to have many inspirations.
How would you say you differ to the likes of Scroobius Pip? Would you ever collaborate?
I’m a really big fan of his work, and would love to collaborate one day. I think the sentiment behind our work and medium are very similar.
Could you fill us in on your latest project ‘Say Yes’ with NCS. What’s the ultimate goal for this?
NCS is an amazing programme that encourages people to explore new opportunities. Much like the nature of the video, it’s about pushing the boundaries that you might have unconsciously set for yourself and understanding the beauty in new discovery. Unless you “Say Yes” to new opportunities, you limit your ability to learn, explore and grow your own identity.
With such a focus on education in your work, what do you think are the main changes that should be made to our education system at the moment?
I think there should be an emphasis on individualism and an adjustment to the ethos applied in schools. There should be a dynamic or process which nurtures the students to understand that there is nothing wrong with not being good at EVERY subject. On a practical level, I think there should be emphasis placed on learning skills/practices more applicable to post school life, such as managing finances, understanding of mortgages, networking and creating CV’s.
If there is one word of advice for younger generations looking to do something fulfilling in their work life what would it be?
Set your own timer.
Don’t live your life based on someone else’s clock. Take time and discover what you want to do. Don’t miss opportunities because you’re too busy trying to adhere to society’s standard of where you should be at certain stages in life.
What did you think you would be doing when you were older as a youngster? Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I always thought I would be an athlete playing basketball when I was a youngster.
In 5 years, I just see myself growing as an artist into a position where I can use my influence to expand into business and more philanthropy. I’m hoping to impact the world through art, and also through innovation in business.