Rappers delight in Suffolk town

FOR many young music fans the prospect of emulating their hip-hop heroes and pursuing a career as a rapper may seem an unlikely dream.But in one Suffolk district, the chance could soon emerge for the next Eminem, Dr Dre or Snoop Doggy Dogg to take centre stage, rapping news of forthcoming events to local people in place of a traditional town crier.

FOR many young music fans the prospect of emulating their hip-hop heroes and pursuing a career as a rapper may seem an unlikely dream.

But in one Suffolk district, the chance could soon emerge for the next Eminem, Dr Dre or Snoop Doggy Dogg to take centre stage, rapping news of forthcoming events to local people in place of a traditional town crier.

And if the idea receives sufficient public support, the ancient "Oyez" and chiming bell could be replaced, leaving the streets of Haverhill ringing out with a bombastic beat and frantic rhymes, which could redefine the town crier role forever.

"We were talking about the introduction of a town crier, and one of the ideas which came from that was asking the local youth population if they would prefer something a little different to tradition," said Jacqueline Rudd, who sits on Haverhill Town Council.


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"If the plan goes ahead, we would have a yearly competition for all ages, ranging from 10 to 80, and then chose the best.

"We have an awful lot of young people living in the town, and there seems to be a gap in things for some youngsters, from 10-year-olds to the early teens, to do. This could be something which could cater for that age group.

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"I myself am completely open-minded about music. My 12-year-old son plays anything, from classical to hip hop, and anything goes musically in our house."

People in Haverhill will be asked their opinions on the plan during a Market Town Health Check, to be completed later in the year.

But even if they do opt to hire a rapper to broadcast news in the town's Market Square every Saturday, it could take 12 months before the streets are filled with human beat-boxing, because of funding for the next financial year.

"We are a very young town population-wise, with most people in Haverhill aged under 40, and the thought was that a rapper may appeal," said town clerk Gordon Mussett.

"If the plans were eventually approved, we would advertise the post and presumably ask the candidates to perform a rap for us about a forthcoming event.

"I myself struggle with text messaging on a mobile phone, so am sure I would need an interpreter to decipher the rap lingo for me."

Haverhill has not had a traditional town crier since the 19th Century, and a proposal to reintroduce the role was made last week in an effort to promote council-run community events.

Although the idea for the traditional crier was well received, the plans to hire a rapper instead have caused slightly more controversy.

"Personally speaking, I am not that enthusiastic, as I think we should have a proper town crier," said council leader Mabon Dane.

"But that does not mean the people of Haverhill will not be supportive, which is exactly why we intend to ask their opinions.

"At the moment, they seem to be divided as to whether they would like a traditional crier, so we decided to gather their opinions first before spending their money.

"But half of Haverhill's population is under the age of 25, and certainly a different kind of town crier might appeal to that younger element."

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