A Doncaster rap music sensation is hoping to take a big step towards stardom when he takes part in a prestigious national competition this weekend.
Musician Jay Betts will take on a host of rap hopefuls from across the country at the national finals of Open Mic UK - a nationwide contest to find the country’s rising hip-hop stars at Birmingham NEC.
And as well as scooping the £5,000 prize, the Wheatley-based singer is hoping that victory will help him onto the first rung of the ladder towards fame and fortune. He said: “I am feeling really good about the competition and I think I am in with a good chance.
“There’s no reason why I can’t win it and hopefully, if I do, it will help me really kickstart my career.”
Jay, aged 25, from Wentworth Road, first began rapping with friends as a teenager and soon realised he had a talent for rapid vocal delivery and conjuring up rhymes.
“We just used to make them up and had good fun. I wrote my first song was 13.”
He decided he wanted to follow a career in the music industry and studied music management and business at university before returning home and putting together his own mix CDs, which he still sells to fans on the streets.
He said: “I entered the regional finals and got through the heats to get to Birmingham and I can’t wait to get down there and get on the stage.”
Citing musical stars such as Nas and English rapper Sway as his influences, Jay added: “I like to rap about the reality of the world we live in. I do a rap called A Night Out about going out drinking which sounds quite commercial on the surface but has a dark side.
“I like to tell stories about day to day life and delve into them. Some of the songs are more obvious than others.”
Now he is hoping victory in Saturday’s contest might allow him to taste fame and spread his music to a wider audience.
“This is the first step to achieving my dream,” he said. “Hopefully it will get me onto mainstream media and TV and allow more people to hear my music.”
To vote for Jay to win the contest, text OPEN86 to 86222.
Rap music is now one of the world’s biggest musical styles - but its roots stem from humble beginnings.
The movement first came out of New York in the 1970s, fused with the disco boom - and Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang, which was released in 1979, is often credited as the first rap single.
Acts such as Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy and Run DMC helped take the genre into the mainstream - but it was still largely a mainstay of black musicians until the likes of the Beastie Boys and latterly Eminem also entered the arena.
Now the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West and even British acts like Example and Plan B have assured the music will live on.