Mr Kneel: Hip Hop for Families!

Press

Neil McIntyre prides himself on being able to think on his feet.

    As a beatboxer and freestyle rapper, you have to be ready for anything that's thrown at you.

   "Beatboxing is kind of like speaking, if you can do it correctly," he said.  "I have a background in emceeing and making raps and rhymes, but when you're performing for kids, you have to show that you're the master of your domain.  They have to know you can do this.  It's way different to rap and beatbox for children instead of adults.  It's harder.

   He would know better than most.  He used to be one of the main vocalists in Denver-based Hip Hop group Yo, Flaco! prior to their move more than a decade ago to Los Angeles.

  Now, he performs under the name "Mr Kneel" and uses his rap skills for the melding of education and entertainment at events for children.  

Mr Kneel: perfromance depends on the audience

   McIntyre will perform at the Larimer County Library for a spring beak-themed show March 28 (2017).  The event is geared towards children and families.

    He has an idea for the performance in mind, but mentioned it does depend on the audience.  

  "Right now, I've been doing a bunch of Dr. Seuss-themed stuff in my shows, and it's great, "he said" But one thing about doing a library show, you have to prepare for toddlers or teenagers.  I have to be ready for either, because I don't want to insult the teens' intelligence, but I can't completely go over the kid's heads."  

   The trick with performing a show with younger children is not to pander to them, but make sure the material keeps them striving for more, he said.  They're more likely to be engaged with what you have to say, McIntyre noted.

   Messages in his shows range from learning to respect yourself and others to getting away from video games and reading more.

   After leaving Yo, Flaco! in 2006, the beatboxer went back to teaching, one of his first loves.  He wanted to work with kids in urban areas, but quickly found out that they weren't fans of the children's music like The Wiggles.

   "These kids wanted to listen to stuff on the radio, but you obviously can't play that in preschool or elementary classes," he said.  "I realized we don't have music for kids that are too old for 'Dora the Explorer' but still too young for Katy Perry.  So I found a niche to do something fun for families and elementary-aged kids."  

   Folding his beatboxing skills into his children's shows has helped him connect to his audience, because the kids are mystified by his ability.  They think it's almost magical, he said.

   "I just love inspiring kids to go out and do something amazing." he said. "I love seeing kids get excited about music when I work with them.  I think it's so much easier to connect with them through music."

Ellen Fiske is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's features writer.  She can be reached at..... efiske@wyomingnews.com