The RISE Project

I was able to volunteer with the RISE Project through the Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE). The RISE Project was a free hip-hop music, dance and parkour course for young people aged (12-25) in the Holroyd area of Western Sydney. Trey (MC Trey) Thomas led the RISE project, which produced two music videos; “RISE” and “HOME.” RISE was able to service participants in two separate locations in western Sydney; Wentworthville and Merryland, as each group produced a professional song which received radio air play and related music video. Trey and the other trainers; (Vuli Mkwananzi, Junior Tavola, and 
Mirrah Fay served as musical trainers. Some students preferred to work behind the scene and were provided with professional video training by Zig Parker. While many of the students had experience with b-boying/girling or break dancing, many had never tried parkour (and like myself were unfamiliar with the official term for the practice). You’ve seen it in action movies and television shows where people are able to run up walls and perform seemingly impossible feats. Parkour in its most simplest terms is described as the art of moving. But it really is much more than that. It is the art of overcoming obstacles as swiftly and efficiently as possible using only your body. Please see for more details. The parkour trainers, 
Ali Khadim, 
Kai Vuong,
 David Vo), provided the students with structured guidance and exercises you will see demonstrated in the video the RISE group created.

The two songs that evolved from this project called are “RISE” and “HOME.” While both songs are distinctly different, there are some overarching themes each song share. The most common one is being steadfast to reach your goals. As you listen to the song you will hear bits and pieces of the artists personal experiences as well as their philosophies on life.

I observed the RISE project in part because I am here to learn more about the teaching practice of hip-hop practitioners. While all of the instructors provided guidelines and instructions, they quickly turned the project over to the students and made it clear that the finished item was EVERYONE’s responsibility. So the instructors gradually turned the project over to participants, allowing participants creative control over the video and lyrics. I also observed participants from the beginning of the project until they filmed the last shots for the video. I was extremely impressed with how well the youth collaborated together to write each song. They took their roles seriously, but still kept the environment friendly and inviting as newcomers joined in. What you hear is a group effort, not one dominant voice. For example, when one participant felt she was putting too much into the song, she reminded the group that the song was OURS not HERS, which encouraged others to make changes and suggestions to the lyrics and melodies, as well as provide alternate solutions when writer’s block hit. I think you will be pleasantly pleased with the results:

Rise Track Credits:
Music by RISE crew & Vuli Mkwananzi
Stephanie Vanlieshout, Viliame Uluilakeba
, Kuch Akot
, Danielle Jang
, Osman Yassir
, Fa’amata Tupu
, Eseta Ionatana
, Jessie Fepuleai
, Sainiana Bose, Kyrie Fyfe-Robinson, Ivey Moneke
, Junior Tavola, MC Trey

Home Track Credits
Written by: Semaema Grace, Mili Cabelawa, Izac Rangmalo, Roni Ligaiviu, Junior Tavola.
Project Participants:
 Semaema Grace, 
Mili Cabelawa, Marcia Cabelawa, 
Emma Donahoe, 
Izac Rangmalo
, Roni Ligaiviu, 
Junior Lewanitua,
 Osaiasi Kupu, 
Joseph Vokai
, Jarome Nichols
, Esther Waqatairewa

I will be providing you with more information on Thelma MC Thomas, her work as a community worker and hip-hop artist, as well as the impact she has had on SEVERAL youth and young adults throughout Sydney, as well as an update on how the Australian hip-hop community has been helping with the Queensland Flood Relief Efforts.

4 thoughts on “The RISE Project

  1. So glad that you were able to volunteer and learn from the trainers and participants. It’s an interesting program that allows participants to express themselves in a variety of ways (through lyric, music, parkour, dance, and behind the scenes skills) and I’m glad that you were able to show the RISE project to people who otherwise wouldn’t have known about it, like me. 🙂


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