By Stewart Robson | ITV.com
BORN in Zimbabwe, made in Belfast.
Leo Miyagee is making hip-hop happen in his home city.
Moving to Northern Ireland when he was only 13 from south London, Stranmillis in south Belfast is now the rapper’s base.
Since an early age his life has been filled with movement, memories and most of all – music.
“Some of the very, very earliest memories I have of music are going to church with my family – my mum, my auntie, my uncles my cousins,” he told UTV.
“At the time I was really, really young so I didn’t really like church. I’d get kind of bored but I would always enjoy the choir.”
Influences at home such as listening to Bob Marley, Sade and Nigerian artist Femi Kuti with his mum, also inspired his hip-hop music today.
His journey to becoming a recognised artist hasn’t been without its troubles.
Growing up in Northern Ireland and Belfast during a time when it wasn’t as diverse a society as it is today, had its challenges.
Speaking of being in school, he said: “The comments would be about the only thing that differentiated me which would be like maybe my identity or the colour of my skin or my hair or something like that.”
When he was 16, insults escalated into an attack.
“There was one incident that still stands out in my mind,” he said.
“That was when we were living in east [Belfast] and there was an attack on the family home, on my mum’s house.
“The window was bricked and all kinds of slurs were being shouted out. My friend was there and he sort of went through it as well.”
Leo was speaking to UTV to mark Black History Month. A time when he says, myths can be dispelled.
He said: “Just raising awareness about the struggles that we face and also helping to dispel some of those unknown factors that people might have, that makes them reserved when dealing with people from different background.”
Leo Miyagee is set to play a gig at Belfast’s Limelight on 30 November.