POETRY MONTH PROFILE: ‘Suli Breaks it Down’

“I am not chasing a dream. I am chasing a reality disguised as a dream”.

Suli Breaks is a 25-year-old British-Ghanaian spoken word artist from Wood Green, North London. In 2009 he graduated with a degree in Law from the University of Sheffield.

His standing as a respected MC within the UK’s urban and mainstream poetry circuit rose spectacularly late last year with his now seminal YouTube video, “Why I Hate School But Love Education”.
The title was unashamedly inspired by Jefferson Bethke’s equally thought-provoking/controversial dissection of Christianity, “Why I hate Religion, but Love Jesus”.

2 million YouTube views, a global fan base and 100 university performances later, Suli Breaks is considered one of the most exciting spoken word artists amongst a new generation. Some literary circles have already and somewhat ironically dubbed the “Why I Hate School…” star, the leader of ‘New School’ poetry aesthetics.

Such high praise is perhaps not unmerited due to the raw skill frequently exhibited by this young man from North London. He has already performed at some of the UK’s most prominent theatres including Camden’s famous Roundhouse venue and Hammersmith’s Lyric Theatre. He’s been featured on BBC London News as well as a host of online services (LondonRealTV) and national publications such as The Voice Newspaper.

Drawing on his personal experience of the UK higher educational system, Why I Hate School… like Bethke’s piece, attempted to highlight a contradictory or even arbitrary relationship between two words we have historically understood as positively interlinked and inseparable.

His argument is a profound one; education and not “schooling” is life’s key, a passport to our dreams and professional elevation. On the contrary, he believes the confinements of rigid learning institutions not only stifle creative thought and expression, they falsely appear to categorically determine the future success of an individual via examinations that rarely cater to the specific needs of a wide spectrum of students.

In an online interview, he said: “Too much testing makes people feel unintelligent. There’s a diagram on the internet with a picture of an elephant, a monkey, and a giraffe and the teacher says the test is for all of them to climb the tree. Obviously, it doesn’t cater to everyone. The manner in which they test people should cater to different individuals’ needs and skill sets”.

…Are you listening Michael Gove?

His delivery of words and gesticulations clearly rely on some of the lexicons of rap music and rap performance. It’s, therefore, no surprise to learn Suli Breaks rapped before venturing into poetry and still dabbles in the underground scene by releasing the occasional mixtape.

In his own words: “I didn’t really get into poetry, you could say that it got into me. I did my first performance because somebody told me to come and rap at a show. I told them I don’t rap no more and that I would do a poem instead…”
In this regard, he is probably best described as “a rapper’s poet”. Think Akala, not Waka Flaka.

In the hit YouTube video, the Londoner name-drops the often celebrated who’s who of billionaires who “made it” without reaching the heights of formal education. However, he cringingly misspells some of the most high profile names on his list and erroneously includes Oprah Winfrey. No big deal…we all make mistakes…right? Yes, but unfortunately, such carelessness discredits his message of personal enlightenment. A post-grad preaching about the weaknesses of formal educational institutions should at the very least exhibit competent research skills and the ability to spellcheck!

Suli Breaks’ official website “The University of Suli Breaks” features his best work to date as well as performance dates and web uploads for your diary.

His latest video, “I Will Not Let an Exam Result Decide My Fate” will be streamed on Sunday April 14th 2013 (12pm GMT) via Suli’s Youtube channel: www.youtube.com/user/sulibreezy


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