If you haven’t heard of rapper MattyB, that’s probably because he’s not exactly an MTV superstar. He doesn’t rap about his bling and he hasn’t gained notoriety for lyrics about the ladies – well, maybe one special lady.
At age 11, MattyB (his non-stage name is Matt Morris) became a YouTube sensation after making a video about his younger sister Sarah Grace.
After being bullied at school, Sarah (who has Down syndrome) needed someone to give her a boost and show her that everyone isn’t a ‘mean girl’. MattyB came to the rescue. Rapping his own lyrics over Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” (sung in the video by another young YouTube star – Olivia Kay), MattyB gets poetic about acceptance, overcoming challenges and the ability to change. Pretty impressive for someone who’s just slightly more than a decade old!
The touching video speaks to the bullying issue that’s all too present in schools everywhere. According to the Bullying No Way campaign, one in every four students (Year 4 through Year 9) are bullied in Australia at least every couple of weeks. The high rate of bullying isn’t helped by those children who stand by, either doing nothing or spurring on the bully. Bullying No Way notes that during 87 percent of bullying interactions, other students/peers are present. Not only is there a growing need for schools and parents to educate children on bullying itself, but also on standing up for ones’ self and for others.
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Standing up for others is exactly what MattyB does through his video. Clearly there’s a need for this (as evidenced by the overwhelmingly positive response to the song). With more than 54 million views since it was posted in 2014, MattyBRaps cover of “True Colors” has struck a chord. Showing his sister being bullied (by a fictional group of girls, and not the real bullies from Sarah’s school), the video goes on to show another little girl also feeling excluded. The two become fast friends. Eventually the bullies see just how wrong they are, and join in with Sarah and her new friend.
The young rapper told ABC’s Good Morning America, “Sarah is just like any other normal kid.” The YouTube video clearly shows that she deserves as much respect, love and positive attention as any other child. Comment after comment (on YouTube) show the affect that MattyB’s song has. Bringing viewers to tears, the combination of a brother’s heartfelt lyrics and the little girl’s story are enough to bring the tissues out.
What makes this video truly special (aside from the obvious ‘big brother sticking up for his little sister’ theme) is the child focus. Even though the video has certainly been a tear-jerker for plenty of adults (you might even need a tissue or two when viewing it), the production appeals to kids. Yes, us mums need to keep at it – helping our children to understand the perils of bullying, why it’s wrong, how it can hurt others and what to do when they see it happening. But, an adult’s words don’t always make a ‘statement’ to a child. Sometimes it’s another child who can get through when an adult can’t. This concept is in full play during MattyB’s video. Where some kids may dismiss mum or dad, a young YouTube star may pull more weight – making a major impact.
In an interview with Good Morning America, Sarah says (of the fact that she’s just like any other child), “I can do baseball or ballet, and I like to dance. I do hip-hop, and I play soccer, and I do batting, and I always play goalie.” Hopefully, through her brother’s video, the rest of the world will also see that Sarah (and other children who have special needs) is a child who can do anything that she sets her mind to.