YOUNG people in Glasgow are using hip hop to empower themselves and their peers thanks to a community project based in Possilpark.

Volition Scotland, an organisation designed and run by young people, has provided a platform for young artists and musicians of all backgrounds to rap about the social issues affecting them.

Originally set up by MC and activist Darren ‘Loki’ McGarvey, the initiative has gained traction in the past year since joining up with the wider Depot Arts organisation. This framework is providing the young attendants with the opportunity to not only hone their talents, but also begin to set an example for the next generation.

Project leader Craig Brown first started attending Volition sessions as a teenager seven years ago.

Brown recalls: “I was a bit of a hothead. It took a while to really shake that off but Volition was the perfect environment. It had a really positive effect on my life.”

“In the areas we come from there’s a real cultural tendency to downplay yourself; to tell yourself you’re not good enough. Volition is cyclical, and it’s my job to pass on the baton to these guys because they definitely are good enough.”

Brian Cumming, aka Young Brido, is a 20-year-old from Barrhead who regularly attends the club. He explains: “I discovered Volition six months ago and it’s been an amazing platform. To be honest, I rap mostly about the struggles that we all face as young people. Most kids making trouble are just bored and need to find their creative side.”

Ashkan Farzan, aka Ash Maleki, says: “I want to be a professional artist and to make a living off of music. Volition was an incentive that really got me out of my bedroom. Networking and speaking to other talented people in a room got me out of that bubble.

Arts programme co-ordinator Erin Friel, who is also a rapper, argues that local music scenes should be learning from them.

Friel explains: “For me, rap was always my best way of expression. Hip hop is relatable to young people. Instead of patronising them, folk should be listening to what we have to say.”

Volition holds weekly sessions in the Possilpark Imaginarium, which is co-run by Depot Arts. Contributors are encouraged to collaborate with others, share material they have written, record songs and use the available recording equipment.

Friel adds: “Volition and Depot Arts have an open door policy, so anyone can come.The main thing that is encouraged is that you just be yourself, so that means rapping with your own voice, your own accent.”

Identity is something that Brown says is at the core of what Volition is about, and he cites rappers such as Friel as the kind of role models that MCs can aspire to. “We want to spread a positive message at Volition,” he stresses. “So many kids get into rap through MTV and think it’s about pulling women and spending money. Boys can play to a persona, whereas girls we’ve worked with haven’t been as comfortable as boys when it comes to performing their material.”

“Erin demonstrates that you can be yourself and keep it real. I think everyone here really looks up to her, me included.”

Thanks to the guidance of Friel and co, Volition’s young MCs have even started to perform live in various capacities. In addition to playing gigs in Edinburgh and Glasgow Green, a few even helped kick off the Celtic Connections festival at the Royal Concert Hall.

The collective’s next big performance is at the daunting Loch Lomond Boat Party in July. However Brown says he is not worried: “They were nervous about their last performance in Edinburgh, but they all smashed it. The likes of wee Alex have really come on leaps and bounds since they first started coming a few months ago. I’m really proud of each of them.”

Alex Docherty, aka Glesgadelic, is an 18-year-old from Springburn. He says: “I started rapping with my mates when I was about 12 or 13 but didn’t really have anywhere to do it. It’s pretty mental how it came about: I won a school project with a poem where I get murdered, so it was pretty intense!

“Last year I started making wee pilgrimages to a workshop in Bridgeton, and that’s where I met Loki and he encouraged me to come here. I like to write metaphors into my raps – I’m writing one just now where I personify heart disease as a serial killer.

Volition has given me goals, directions and deadlines to work from.”